Archive receives donation of 20th-century press photographs of the Roman Forum


From left to right: Valerie Scott (BSR Librarian), Christopher Smith (BSR Director), Liam Jensen-Kohl, Alessandra Giovenco (BSR Archivist). 

This week we were delighted to receive a very special donation for our Archive.

A collection of 20th-century press photographs in and around the Roman Forum was generously donated by Lynette Jensen, and consists of 75 black and white press photographs taken between the years 1924 and 1993 (its sister collection of engravings and photographs sits in the Museum of Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University, in Sydney, and traces the depiction of the Roman Forum from the first days of printing to the early 20th century).

This new collection is a valuable addition to our Photographic Archive which already holds over 100,000 items – prints and negatives of rare and unique collections. The Lynette Jensen Collection, Roman Forum 20th-Century Press Photographs will be available for consultation for study purposes, so please email our Archivist Alessandra Giovenco to find out more.

Lynette hopes that the photographs ‘might go a small way in reflecting the enormously important role the BSR plays in Australian scholarship and the gratitude and fondness Australians feel for the British School at Rome’.

Many thanks to Liam Jensen-Kohl (pictured above) who archived and prepared the collection, and brought it all the way from Australia!

Students protesting against sound and light shows in the Forum in the early 1970s.

Students protesting against sound and light shows in the Forum in the early 1970s.

'ROMAN AUTOS GET CHURCH'S BLESSING' for the feast day of Santa Francesca Romana - patron saint of Roman automobilists!

‘ROMAN AUTOS GET CHURCH’S BLESSING’ for the feast day of Santa Francesca Romana – patron saint of Roman automobilists.

Yet more cars outside of the colosseum. No blessing this time - just a traditional Roman traffic jam.

Yet more cars outside of the Colosseum. No blessing this time – just a traditional Roman traffic jam.

It seems that no photographer can resist the classic combination of Roman ruins and cats.

It seems that no photographer can resist the classic combination of Roman ruins and cats.



Natalie Arrowsmith (Communications Manager)

Collaborating for the cultural heritage of the world: FAI and the National Trust at the BSR

On Wednesday 14 September, the BSR was proud to host an event all about conservation and cultural heritage in collaboration with FAI and MiBACT, including a contribution from Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini. Director Christopher Smith looks back on this exciting event within the context of the BSR’s wider research framework.

‘The BSR has had a long and glittering history as a promoter of conservation and heritage management. In a sense, our third Director Thomas Ashby was already speaking to this as he recorded the disappearing Campagna, and it has been a constant theme, right through to the hugely successful Herculaneum Conservation Project, directed by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, which was important not only for its achievements, but also as a model for public-private partnerships.

The BSR’s research theme on this subject has been populated with a number of important conferences and events, and we recently added to this with an important occasion, bringing together the very best of UK and Italian experience.

The event, entitled Collaborating for the Cultural Heritage of the World: The Role of Public–Private Partnerships, was a joint event with the Italian National Trust, FAI. There were three case studies. Daniela Bruno spoke about the Parco Villa Gregoriana at Tivoli, and its restoration. The spectacular walk through the Parco is attracting record visitors, and is a testimony to the capacity of FAI to regenerate and advertise places of great beauty and importance. James Bradburne presented his experiences at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence and now the Brera in Milan. His brilliant presentation showed how a gifted and determined museum director can pull a team together and set a gallery at the heart of the cultural life of a city. Finally, the BSR’s own Research Professor in Archaeology Simon Keay and Research Fellow Renato Sebastiani demonstrated the potential of the archaeological park at Portus and Ostia, right by Rome’s Fiumicino airport.


Paolo Conti (Corriere della Sera) giving his first address

The keynote was offered by Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chairman of the worldwide network of heritage and conservation charities, INTO. Her extraordinarily wide-ranging presentation of different examples of public-private partnerships across the world was held together by a clear focus on what is needed for successful heritage management – clear vision, clear roles and responsibilities, public credibility and support and long-term sustainability. In response, our two very special guests, President of FAI and BSR Honorary Fellow Andrea Carandini, and Italy’s Minister for Culture and Tourism, Dario Franceschini, emphasised the role of international collaboration. The presence of a government minister at what Carandini described as a historic meeting confirmed the importance of this initiative in driving forward a debate about the models which can address the specific circumstances of individual projects in Italy. In concluding, Director Christopher Smith noted that Rome’s foreign academies had a seminal role in bringing together best practice and collaborating to deliver outstanding research results and sustainable heritage management.

Over the coming months, the BSR will host an important international workshop around the concept of beauty in public life, in collaboration with the British Council and think tank ResPublica; and a major conference on conservation and restoration at Portus. Stephen Kay’s international field school at Pompeii taught principles of conservation to an enthusiastic team. Several other projects are under development. From education, to practice, to policymaking, the BSR is leading the way in bringing UK expertise to bear on conservation and heritage management in Italy.’

Christopher Smith (Director)

Photos by Antonio Palmieri.

To read more about the event, see the FAI website where you can also download the PowerPoint by Dame Fiona Reynolds.

Sculpture at the BSR

This week on our blog, we take a look at the work of two former BSR award-holders, and show how the creative practice recorded in the BSR Archives becomes the subject of contemporary research.

Alfred Hardiman in his studio at the BSR

Alfred Hardiman in his studio at the BSR.

Earlier this summer, Archivist Alessandra Giovenco received an email from former BSR resident, Valerie Holman, letting her know that an article based in large part on research carried out at the BSR had just been published in Sculpture Journal.

Valerie kindly took the time to tell us about her research:

‘In 1920, Alfred Hardiman (1891-1949), a mature student in art and former engineering draughtsman, became only the third recipient of the Rome Prize in Sculpture. He spent a very productive four years at the BSR, completing in clay a seven-foot figure of Peace, now cast in bronze and sited in the garden of St James’s Piccadilly, as well as many portrait busts of staff and fellow students, among them Winifred Knights. Knights’ paintings and drawings, including her portraits of Hardiman, are currently on show at Dulwich Art Gallery in London [the exhibition is now drawing to a close, having had a very successful run!].


Hardiman’s sculpture of his contemporary at the BSR, Winifred Knights.

Sculpture created in Italy made his reputation in the UK, and led to prestigious, large-scale commissions such as the four groups of figures that adorn London County Hall, and his equestrian statue of Earl Haig in Whitehall. A strong advocate of collective endeavour, he made lasting friendships at the BSR that extended into his professional life, collaborating with the award-winning architect, Stephen Rowland Pierce, on several public buildings during the 1930s.Nearly 100 years later, my brief time at the BSR was spent trawling through archives with the patient help of Alessandra Giovenco [BSR Archivist], or strolling through Rome to try and see the city as Hardiman did, pondering relationships between light and mass, scale and space, classical order and Baroque exuberance. It was an incomparable opportunity to understand what the Rome Scholarship in Sculpture must have meant to a man of modest means whose later work, though still extraordinarily little known, is now prominently sited in cities across the UK.’

This July we had a visit from a more recent former award-holder, Michael Rhodes, who came back to visit the BSR for the first time in over 30 years. Michael recalled his envy when a close friend was awarded the Rome Prize in Sculpture at the BSR – only to shortly afterwards himself be awarded the Gulbenkian Scholarship in Sculpture.

From a working class background, Michael remembers his preconceptions about coming to the BSR, fearing his fellow award-holders would all be ‘condescending’. In reality, his two years – residencies were often much longer at that time – at the BSR were filled with intellectual stimulation, travel…and romance. The BSR is doubly special for Michael as his wedding was held here (with the organisational help of the legendary Anna Fazzari), his wife-to-be having worked in the archaeology department during his residency.

Having lived in Berlin for a large part of his working life as a sculptor (‘Berlin has been trendy for twenty years now’), during his visit he rekindled his fascination with Rome, and hopes to return soon.

Work in progress in Michael's Berlin studio.

Current work in progress in Michael’s Berlin studio.

We are pleased that the BSR, and specifically our Fine Arts records, continue to be a vital research resource for scholars and practitioners alike. If you think the BSR Archives might be useful for your research, contact Archivist Alessandra Giovenco to discuss your project.

Natalie Arrowsmith (Communications Manager)

Digging Pompeii: the 2016 summer excavations

This summer saw the second season of work by the BSR, the Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Doctores y Licenciados en Letras y Ciencias de Valencia y Castellòn. Departamento de Arqueologia and the Museo de Prehistoria e Historia de La Diputación De Valencia at the site of the necropolis of Porta Nola outside the north-eastern gate of Pompeii. Following the success last year of the discovery of a further burial inside the tomb of Marcus Obellius Firmus and the excavation of cremations alongside the city wall, the 2016 season concentrated on two further areas within the necropolis.

The 2016 International Field School saw the participation of 22 students from ten different countries who over the course of five weeks were trained in excavation techniques, ceramic identification and osteology, with a focus on studying cremation burials. Alongside the team, conservators continued work begun last year on the structure of the tomb of Marcus Obellius Firmus as well as conserving the objects being recovered from the site.


Study of the cremations of two Praetorian guards. Photo by Charles Avery.

This summer’s excavation focused on the area immediately behind the tomb of Marcus Obellius Firmus in order to understand its relationship with the smaller gateway into the necropolis and understand whether it formed part of the funerary precinct or delimited the pomerium of the city. The excavation discovered a number of deposits alongside the gate resulting from the cleaning of ustrinum (the place of a funerary pyre), as well as a beaten earth road that led through the gate to the circuit road of the city. As ever with excavations, on the final day an ustrinum was discovered at the very limit of the trench, complete with burnt human bone, ash and large pieces of carbon. This will be investigated in the final season of excavation next year.


Excavation of a vase behind the Tomb of Obellius Firmus. Photo by Stephen Kay.

Elsewhere on the site the excavation of a rectangular structure was completed, built just behind the funerary monument of Aesquillia Polla. Variously described by earlier research as a funerary precinct, garden or ustrinum, the 2016 excavation sought to understand the role of this structure, built in a prominent position opposite the Nolan Gate. Once the excavation had removed layers dating to activity of the early twentieth century, which included the burial of a dog and the loss of several terracotta smoking pipes, the work revealed large deposits of construction material used to raise the level beneath the building. However the 2016 excavation did not record any cremations, supporting the theory of a late construction that was not used before the eruption of AD 79.


A coin of Divo Augusto issued under Tiberius (15 – 16 AD). Photo by Stephen Kay.

The Porta Nola Necropolis Project is extremely grateful for the support shown by the Soprintendenza Pompeii, in particular the Soprintendente Professor Massimo Osanna and the funzionario for the area Dott.ssa Annalisa Capurso. Permission and assistance was also kindly given by Dott.ssa Laura D’Esposito and Dott.ssa Marialaura Ladanza for the osteological study of two Praetorian burials, excavated in the mid 1970s by the Soprintendenza. In the field, the team was kindly supported by the Soprintendenza excavation assistant Sig. Vincenzo Sabini. The project is directed by Llorenç Alapont, Rosa Albiach and Stephen Kay with the support of a team of specialists: Trinidad Pasies (Conservator), Letizia Ceccarelli (Finds Officer), Ilaria Frumenti (Surveyor), Fabio Mestici (Numismatist) and Pasquale Longobardi (Health and Safety Officer). The 2016 excavations were supervised by Pedro Corredor, Tomas Jirak, Monika Koroniova, Adrià Pitarch and Sheyla Sancho. Finally, a huge thank you to all the students who participated in the excavation this year for their tremendous hard work.


Members of the 2016 excavation team. Photo by Llorenç Alapont.

Stephen Kay (Archaeology Officer)



A new (academic) year begins

Those of you who have been following our August blogs will know that the BSR is a quieter place over the summer, giving staff the chance to work hard behind the scenes to prepare everything for the next academic year, and providing our monthly residents with the perfect environment for their research and practice.

However this week is when all of that changes! 1 September marks the beginning of the BSR’s academic year 2016-17 bringing with it many new and exciting lectures, exhibitions and conferences in our upcoming events programme (details of our September events are available on our website).

Our library has been open to the public since Monday with its newly inventoried 110,000 books and periodicals available for reference, and we are looking forward to the arrival of a whole new cohort of award-holders who will be arriving in early October.


Assistant Director Tom True says, ‘With another dazzlingly refulgent events programme this autumn, the BSR is once more a top destination for engaging with innovative and creative research. We are proud that this term’s programme of conferences, lectures and other academic events, delivered in collaboration with scores of international scholars and partner institutions, supports and showcases research at its best, while making these events open to the public. We commence on 14 September with Dame Fiona Reynolds, former director-general of the National Trust, who will investigate collaborating for the cultural heritage of the world: the role of public-private partnerships in discussion with the great Professor Andrea Carandini.’

All images taken by Paul Barker © Country Life

August Artists: #2 James and Eleanor Avery

For the second part in our August Artists series, we interviewed artists James and Eleanor Avery.

Installation shot from a show earlier this year in Sydney

James and Eleanor Avery

Benny Bunny (2016) Laminate, plywood, timber, hand-carved jelutong wood, enamel paint 198 x 165 x 64 cm; Rio (2016) Plywood, fur fabric 230 x 170 x 3 cm

Exhibition image from Heroes at Galerie Pompom, Sydney 2016.


What was your BSR award and what year were you here?

Our award was an Australia Council studio residency in 2008.  We have returned to the BSR during the summer months four times since our original residency.

Where do you make your artwork?

Predominantly in our studio in Brisbane, Australia, but we spend a lot of time in the UK and Europe where we work in any space available!

Where is your next exhibition?

We are currently working on a commission for two sculptures which will be permanently sited in a public space in Sydney, to be installed in 2017.  After August in the BSR studio we have a studio residency at the Siena Institute of Art where we will host an ‘open studio’ for the work we complete during our time there.

Do you have a highlight from your time as award-holders?

It’s impossible to pinpoint one specific highlight as our whole residency experience was brilliant.  Just being in Rome is a highlight in itself and each time we return we find new things to see.  The final mostra was a high point for us.  The work we made during our award was a significant shift in our practice which led on to many new developments in our work.  It was great to show alongside all the other resident artists and was a fantastic culmination of our award.

What is your favourite thing about the BSR?

Definitely the opportunity to work alongside other artist award-holders and academics in such a creative and stimulating environment.   We have formed lasting friendships here, some of which have led on to collaborations and participation in curated shows in the UK and Rome.  We have always loved the format and energy of the studio spaces and the recently upgraded windows and skylights have significantly improved the studio light and temperature.

And of course there’s Fragolina!

Do you have a favourite place/museum/gallery in Rome?

For James – the Villa Giulia Etruscan museum.  For Eleanor – the Basilica of San Clemente for its three levels, two of which are below ground and span from a 2nd century mithraeum up to the present basilica built in the Middle Ages.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your living room what would it be?

This changes all the time, but currently it would be Early Morning by Samuel Palmer and The Hunt in the Forest by Uccello.

Do you have a favourite gelato flavour?

For James – nocciola and mirtillo.  For Eleanor – cioccolato extranoir and lampone, both sorbets.  All from GROM.

August Artists: #1 Richard Kirwan

During the summer months, former Fine Arts award-holders often take the opportunity to return to the studios at the BSR.

During August 2016, we interviewed a number of the resident artists about their studio practice and their experiences of living and working in Rome.

First up was former Abbey Fellow in Painting Richard Kirwan.


Richard Kirwan
Another Clear Day (2016)
Acrylic on canvas 
30.5 x 25.5 cm
© Richard Kirwan. Courtesy Galerie Hollenbach, Stuttgart

What was your BSR award and what year were you here?

I was awarded the Abbey Fellowship in Painting in 2002. I’ve returned to the BSR during the summer six times since then.

Where do you make your artwork?

My studio is in Camberwell, London.

Where is your next exhibition?

I am showing three new paintings between September and October at Durden & Ray in Los Angeles. The exhibition is called Native.

Do you have a highlight from your time as an award-holder?

It’s difficult to name only one, but the community of artists at the BSR is a key factor. I was originally here with artists such as Richard Billingham [Sargant Fellow 2001-2], Daniel Silver [Rome Scholar Fine Arts 2001-2] and Sophy Rickett [ACE Helen Chadwick Fellow 2002-3], and we’ve remained friends since then. In the following years, I’ve met even more artists at the BSR. The opportunity to spend time working in the studios and socialising with such a diverse and interesting group of artists can’t be overestimated. The studios at the BSR provide space to work, and time for talking…

Of course, Rome, in itself, is a highlight. It’s inexhaustible.

What is your favourite thing about the BSR?

Aside from the people, I guess it’s the Lutyens facade. It never fails to amuse me that I have a door key in my pocket that allows me 24-hour access to such an imposing piece of architecture.

Since the last time I was here, the studios have been refurbished with fantastic new skylights and windows. The daylight during the summer can be intense, and these new skylights really help even out the sunshine and the windows have mesh screens that help in the constant battle against mosquitoes.

Do you have a favourite place/museum/gallery in Rome?

My favourite building is the Pantheon. But my favourite museum is the Galleria Borghese, only a short walk from the BSR.  The astounding Apollo & Daphne by Bernini and Sick Bacchus by Caravaggio are there. Popular for good reason.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your living room what would it be?

For a sculpture, I think it would have to be Fountain by Marcel Duchamp. For a painting, I would choose Double Elvis by Andy Warhol. For a photograph; Boy with Toy Hand Grenade, Central Park NYC by Diane Arbus, and for a video work, The Clock by Christian Marclay. All choices subject to change, of course.

Do you have a favourite gelato flavour?

A double cone: a scoop of mirtillo and another of frutti di bosco. It absolutely has to be from Giolitti (Via degli Uffici del Vicario 40, 00186 Rome).