A look back at the December Mostra 2016

The British School at Rome rounded off 2016 with a brilliant Mostra featuring our six resident artists, and it was wonderful to see the work they had produced whilst in Rome. Thanks to Roberto Apa’s fantastic photography, those who were unable to attend the Mostra can take a look at the artwork exhibited, and those who wish to revisit the highlights can do so too! More can be read about the practice of each artist by clicking on their name.

The exhibition was made possible thanks to the kind support and generosity of The Linbury Trust, The Derek Hill Foundation, The Abbey Council, and the Arts Council of Wales.

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Gallery installation view

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Gallery installation view

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Gallery installation view

Kelly Best (Creative Wales-BSR Fellow)

Kelly Best, left to right: Frame, watercolour on paper, dimensions variable; Untitled, fresco, 17.5 x 13.5 cm

Maria Farrar (Derek Hill Foundation Scholar)

Maria Farrar, left to right: Al dente, oil on canvas, 180 x 130 cm; Cat IV, oil on canvas, 180 x 130 cm; I disagree, oil on canvas, 125 x 95 cm

Grant Foster, Rome Fellow in Contemporary Art

Grant Foster, left to right: Pruner, charcoal, glue, pigment and oil stick on canvas, 180 x 135 cm; Vanity, charcoal, glue, pigment and oil stick on canvas, 35.5 x 28.5 cm; Blockhead, charcoal, glue, pigment and oil stick on canvas, 35 x 30 cm

Maria de Lima (Abbey Fellow in Painting)

Maria de Lima, clockwise from top-left: Rose Sequence (artist), oil on canvas, 80 x 70 cm; Rose Sequence (growths), oil on canvas, 100 x 140 cm; Rose Sequence (cutting), oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm

Catherine Parsonage (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture)

Catherine Parsonage, left to right: 2am tryst, oil on gesso panel, 80 x 60 cm; between night and dawn, oil on gesso panel, 80 x 60 cm; wet thirst, oil on gesso panel, 80 x 60 cm

Vivien Zhang, Abbey Scholar in Painting

Vivien Zhang, left to right: Paths Stamper (Drape), mixed media on canvas, 51 x 46 cm; Velvet Murmurs, oil and acrylic on canvas, 160 x 140 cm; Paths Stamper 3, mixed media on canvas, 51 x 46 cm

All photographs courtesy of the artists and Roberto Apa.

BSR Visual Art alumni exhibit in Rome

As well as giving artists the time and space to explore their practice, our Visual Art residencies open up a fruitful dialogue and exchange with the Rome audience via our mostre and studio visits which showcase the work of our artists, and gallery visits which can open up opportunities for further projects and collaborations.

Some of our recent alumni have been drawn back to the Rome art scene, and this winter saw several former award-holders — including Rachel Adams (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture 2015-16), Jonathan Baldock (Abbey Fellow 2012-13), Damien Duffy (Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellow 2015-16), and Joseph Griffiths (Australia Council Resident 2015-16) — return to Rome to pursue further residencies and collaborations with Roman and international artists and galleries.

Damien Duffy spent six months at the BSR earlier this year as Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellow. We were delighted to see him return to Rome in October, this time to spend a month in the city as FPA Fellow at the Fondazione per l’Arte, a highly competitive Fellowship that he held alongside Polish artist Bartosz Beda and Italian artist Danilo Correale (both based in the USA). Damien explains:

‘The FPA Fellowship was conducted in studios in Via del Mandrione, an area that has tremendous archaeological significance, being the route of the Felice Aqueduct, as well as having great historical value.

Its marginal status between railway lines and aqueduct offers a place that is almost an urban island within Rome, and with a history of marginality that — along with its post-war shanty town built under the arches of the aqueduct — attracted the figures of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alberto Moravia.

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An ‘open studio’ with Damien at the BSR earlier this year. Photo by Antonio Palmieri.

Works I made there continued themes developed at the BSR earlier in 2016. New works deployed the squeegee labour of car-washers often seen at the traffic lights in Rome’s streets.

Developing from adaptations of Twombly’s works, I considered the issue of migration, leading to a new body of work Screenwash deploying the labour-authorship of those working within marginal economies (see below).damienduffy-1damienduffy-2

In addition a work developed around the disappearance at sea of the artist Bas Jan Ader is currently on show as part of the exhibition About: blank with fellow alumni Rachel Adams (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture 2015-16) and Joseph Griffiths (Australia Council Resident 2015-16). The show runs until 8 January’.

Closer to home — that is, just across the Villa Borghese park at the Villa Medici, home of the French Academy in Rome — Joseph Griffiths (Australia Council Resident 2015-16) was invited to participate in Art Club #9 — Bois D’Amour in the Villa Medici’s I Giovedì alla Villa series, curated by Pier Paolo Pancotto. Below are some installation shots of his installation Communicating Vessels in situ at the Villa Medici. The work expands upon his series Fountains first shown here at the BSR at June Mostra earlier this year.

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Communicating Vessels 2016, water collected from Roman fountains, PVC, silicone, dimensions variable. Image courtesy of the artist.

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Communicating Vessels 2016, water collected from Roman fountains, PVC, silicone, dimensions variable. Image courtesy of the artist.

Back in the UK Jonathan Baldock (Abbey Fellow 2012-13) is currently showing alongside Emma Hart whom we were delighted to host for an artist’s talk here at the BSR back in November. Their show Love Life, an exhibition in three acts — which will also tour to The Grundy, Blackpool, and the De La Warr, Bexhill  — ‘re-imagine[s] the traditional seaside show Punch and Judy, transforming the puppet booth living quarters of the pair into an oversized, warped and darkly humorous place’. The exhibition runs until 28 January at Peer Gallery (see below – photo courtesy of Jonathan Baldock).

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Here in Rome however, Jonathan is participating in a group show at Fondazione Memmo. Some of our readers may recall Fondazione Memmo’s exhibition Conversation Piece I which took place in 2014 and showcased work by BSR alumni Rowena Harris (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture 2014-15) and Eddie Peake (Abbey Scholar 2008-9). The third instalment, Conversation Piece III, opened in December with work by Jonathan and other international artists, and runs until 2 April.

Natalie Arrowsmith (Communications Manager)

Our second century

In 1916, Assistant Director Eugenie Strong and architect Ernest Cormier briefly took up residence in the current BSR. We know a little about these early days in the building, which was by no means as complete as it is now. The east wing was missing (and not completed until the 1930s).

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Plan of the BSR with missing east wing (Courtesy of the BSR Archives)

One of the studios was the common room, and housed Thomas Ashby’s [Director 1906-25] Piranesi prints in a special cabinet. Part of the Director’s flat was the temporary kitchen. Ashby himself was at the Italian front as a volunteer ambulance driver; most of the thirty-seven men associated with the BSR, including its Italian staff, were also caught up in the war.

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The former common room – today one of our artists’ studios (courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive)

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Thomas Ashby’s Piranesi prints on display in the common room (courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive)

But the building was ours, for all that it was incomplete, and its first two residents were remarkable figures. Strong — an ebullient socialite, an expert on Roman art, polymathic, and profoundly international with contacts across Europe — is relatively well known. Her immense collection of commercial photographs of art and sculpture from several periods remains an untapped part of the BSR archive; and work on her large collection of postcards merits external funding.

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Eugenie Strong (Courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archive)

Ernest Cormier stands for another aspect of the BSR. He was a Canadian architect, and designed not only the central buildings of McGill University but also Canada’s Supreme Court in Ottawa. Our Commonwealth roots and our commitment to architecture, and to excellence, come together in the figure of Cormier.

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Supreme Court of Ottawa, designed by Ernest Cormier – the first student to take up residence at the BSR in 1916 (Photo: Wikipedia)

It is fitting to remember Cormier as we also think this year of our departed and much-missed friend, Francesco Garofalo, who himself spent several years in Canada and who gave so much to the BSR. Francesco and his wife and fellow architect Sharon Miura worked on the extension of the BSR at the beginning of this century, including the Sainsbury Lecture Theatre, where his posthumous book of essays was presented earlier this month.

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Speakers at the launch of Whatever happened to Italian Architecture? (Photo: Antonio Palmieri)

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Architect Sharon Miura who managed the BSR’s Sustainable Building Project with her late husband Francesco Garofalo (Photo: Antonio Palmieri)

A century on from its beginnings, the BSR’s building has never been in better shape. Thanks to my predecessor’s extension, and the recent Sustainable Building Project refurbishment programme — which Sharon Miura project-managed, with architects Studio Amati, engineers ARUP, and building contractor LO.MA — our artists are now showing their work in a temperature- and humidity-controlled gallery, our Library periodicals are in a fully refurbished basement, and we are constantly driving down energy costs.

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Work on the east wing roof during the Sustainable Building Project (Photo: Natalie Arrowsmith)

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Christopher Smith inspects the building work (Photo: Antonio Palmieri)

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The refurbished artists’ studios (Photo: Antonio Palmieri)

To celebrate this, we were proud and honoured to receive a visit from our President, HRH Princess Alexandra, who launched the next phase of our Second Century Campaign. We are working to create a stable and sustainable basis for our future. We hope that as many of our members as possible will visit us next year and that all our existing friends, and many new ones, will help us continue the traditions of internationalism and excellence which have characterised the first century of the BSR and will serve us well in our second.

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HRH Princess Alexandra visiting the BSR to launch the Second Century Campaign (Photo: Thomas Toti)

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HRH Princess Alexandra with members of the Sustainable Building Project team and BSR staff and residents (Photo: Thomas Toti)

Christopher Smith (Director)

December Mostra 2016 / Meet the Artists… Vivien Zhang

This Friday will see one of the highlights of our calendar, the triannual mostra, open at the British School at Rome. Our six resident artists have been hard at work over the past three months, taking inspiration from the city and all it has to offer. In the run up to the December Mostra opening, we will be posting blogs in which the artists tell us about the basis of their practice, and how being in Rome has contributed to their work.

Vivien Zhang (Abbey Scholar in Painting)

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Photo by Antonio Palmieri

Vivien Zhang’s work looks at the idea of repetition and painting as a site for assemblage. Context-specific motifs intersect and interrupt fields of repetition. The juxtaposition and layering of motifs often simulates algorithms found in digital imaging software – an approach influenced by our way of reading and engaging with visual material today. Zhang explores through her works our expanding accessibility to images and information today, our shifting relationship to authorship and our authority over it, and our increasing re-identification as trans-border inhabitants.

Il lavoro di Vivien Zhang esplora l’idea di ripetizione, adottando il dipinto come luogo di assemblaggio. Motivi di contesto specifico si intrecciano e interrompono aree di ripetizioni. La sovrapposizione e la stratificazione di motivi emula gli algoritmi usati dai software delle immagini digitali – un approccio influenzato dal nostro modo di leggere il materiale. Zhang riflette, tramite il suo lavoro, sulla nostra vasta accessibilità ad immagini e informazioni, sul nostro rapporto instabile con l’autorità e sulla nostra ritrovata identità di abitanti transnazionali.


December Mostra will open on Friday 9 December at 18.30.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 17 December.

December Mostra 2016 / Meet the Artists… Catherine Parsonage

This Friday will see one of the highlights of our calendar, the triannual mostra, open at the British School at Rome. Our six resident artists have been hard at work over the past three months, taking inspiration from the city and all it has to offer. In the run up to the December Mostra opening, we will be posting blogs in which the artists tell us about the basis of their practice, and how being in Rome has contributed to their work.

Catherine Parsonage (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting & Sculpture)

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Photo by Antonio Palmieri

Catherine Parsonage uses painting and sculpture to pursue the ultimate reduction of the female form, condensing the body to its most elementary essence through single deft lines. The drawings and paintings carefully choreograph the body as the fashion photographer might its subject, creating a distilled mis-en-scene, where the subtle shifts in weight and angle are imbued with movement and poise.

Catherine Parsonage usa dipinti e sculture per ottener una riduzione ultima della forma femminile, condensando il corpo alla sua essenza più elementare tramite linee ridotte. I disegni e i dipinti descrivono attentamente il corpo così come il fotografo di moda fa con i suoi soggetti creando una messa in scena dove sottili cambiamenti di peso e angolo vengono evidenziati con ritmo ed eleganza.


December Mostra will open on Friday 9 December at 18.30.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 17 December.

 

December Mostra 2016 / Meet the Artists… Maria de Lima

This Friday will see one of the highlights of our calendar, the triannual mostra, open at the British School at Rome. Our six resident artists have been hard at work over the past three months, taking inspiration from the city and all it has to offer. In the run up to the December Mostra opening, we will be posting blogs in which the artists tell us about the basis of their practice, and how being in Rome has contributed to their work.

Maria de Lima (Abbey Fellow in Painting)

MariadeLima

Photo by Antonio Palmieri

Maria de Lima’s practice delves into the possibilities of colour and perception in relation to the production of space. Recurring motifs readjust in various media spanning painting, video, print and sculpture. Works move between plant, human, and the human-built, tapping a spontaneous energy of growth that draws on the human need, full of desire, to construct. There is a constant locating and relocating of the point of genesis, the energy that it takes to create something.

Maria de Lima spazia tra le svariate possibilità del colore e della percezione in relazione alla costruzione dello spazio. Motivi ricorrenti si manifestano tramite vari mezzi espressivi quali dipinti, video, stampe e sculture. I suoi lavori creano un’energia di crescita spontanea che attinge al bisogno umano, pieno di desiderio, di costruire. C’è una costante localizzazione e ri-localizzazione del momento della genesi, che costituisce l’energia che serve per creare qualcosa.


December Mostra will open on Friday 9 December at 18.30.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 17 December.

December Mostra 2016 / Meet the Artists… Grant Foster

This Friday will see one of the highlights of our calendar, the triannual mostra, open at the British School at Rome. Our six resident artists have been hard at work over the past three months, taking inspiration from the city and all it has to offer. In the run up to the December Mostra opening, we will be posting blogs in which the artists tell us about the basis of their practice, and how being in Rome has contributed to their work.

Grant Foster (Rome Fellow in Contemporary Art)

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Photo by Antonio Palmieri

Nationalism, religion, redemption and revenge lie at the forefront of Grant Foster‘s practice. Spanning painting, collage and sculpture, Foster focuses on the point where classicism intersects with populism. The suggestion of two incongruous worlds is united by a hysterical and manic interpretation of contemporary morality. Borrowing from a disparate range of sources, including the tabloid news, images of antiquity, and cultural bric-a-brac, Foster offers a sardonic swipe at our commonly assumed cultural values.

Nazionalismo, religione, redenzione e vendetta sono elementi centrali nelle opere di Grant Foster. Variando tra pittura, collage e scultura, Foster si concentra sul punto dove il classicismo interseca il populismo. Questi due mondi incongrui sono uniti da un’interpretazione isterica e maniacale della moralità contemporanea. Foster mette in dubbio la veridicità dei nostri valori culturali prendendo spunto da fonti disparate che includono giornali scandalistici, immagini di antichità e cianfrusaglie.


December Mostra will open on Friday 9 December at 18.30.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 17 December.