BSR research at Tarquinia

In November the BSR hosted a workshop of UCL and the Soprintendenza Archeologia on geophysics projects in central Italy where a range of sites were presented. Building upon these discussions, in early February a team from the BSR undertook three days of magnetometry with the Università degli Studi di Milano at the site of the city of Tarqunia at the invitation of Professor Giovanna Bagnasco Gianni.


Tarquinia. Photo by Stephen Kay

The aim of the survey was to provide a comparative dataset for an early geophysical prospection conducted across the city in the 1980s by the Fondazione Lerici. The unpublished results appear to reveal in some detail elements of the city, much of which is buried. The new survey, conducted at a higher resolution revealed traces of a network of roads across the town as well as some hitherto unknown buildings south of the famous Ara della Regina (so-called as early antiquarians upon its discovery thought it was a pyramid due to the stepped sides of the Etruscans podium!). The BSR looks forward to continuing this new successful collaboration with Professor Bagnasco Gianni and her team (with special thanks to Matilde Marzullo and Andrea Garzulino for their support in the field).

The theme of the necropoli of the Etruscans, and in particular their painted tombs, is being explored by Morgan Gostwyck-Lewis, the BSR Scholars’ Prize in Architecture award-holder. Since joining us at the BSR in January, Morgan has visited several Etruscan sites, looking at the movement between ornamental order and figurative image through the painted interiors of Etruscan tombs. Our current Abbey Fellow in Painting Neil McNally has been looking at Etruscan artefacts, mirrors and ritual.


The site of the Etruscan tombs at Cerveteri. Photo by Morgan Lewis.

This weekend, Director Christopher Smith will be attending a conference in Tarquinia organised in memory of Giuseppe Cultrera, and presenting a new volume edited by Giovanna Bagnasco Gianni on Fascino etrusco nel primo Novecento, conversando di arti e di storia delle arti. More details about the event can be found at

Stephen Kay (Archaeology Officer)

Keeping up with the borsisti

As we approach the halfway-point of the January-March period at the BSR, this week we take a look at where some of our new award-holders are up to, and how the city of Rome and living at the BSR have influenced their research and practice so far.

Nicole Moffatt (Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar)


On her research and her time spent at the BSR so far, Nicole said: ‘Connectivity is a modern concept and its meaningful translation to an ancient context – particularly based on documentary evidence – is still an emerging area of research. My ideas on connectivity in the ancient world are changing and developing under the influence of fellow award holders, guest speakers at the BSR seminar series, and visiting members of the greater BSR network –  all who have generously share their own research, perspectives and suggestions on mine across the communal dinning table every day.

‘In a more formal context BSR library (and her wonderful staff), together with the American Academy and the Vatican library have extended my research capabilities and help me to both position it and clarify my thoughts as to its relevance in other areas’.

Jason Blockley (Coleman-Hilton Scholar)


Jason Blockley joins us at the BSR from Sydney, and he has been taking advantage of having Europe on his doorstep, and so far he has travelled to Berlin, Ravenna and London for conferences, museums and site visits as part of his research on his topic, Economies of late antique North Africa.

Neil McNally (Abbey Fellow in Painting)


Neil has been making the most of the abundance of galleries and exhibitions on offer in Rome. Always keeping a keen eye out for news of gallery openings, he reckons that as of yet he has not missed an opening since arriving in Rome! He has been balancing out the contemporary delights of the city’s art scene with visits to many of the city’s historical sites.

Sinta Tantra (The Bridget Riley Fellow)


On her experience of the BSR so far, Sinta commented: ‘As an artist, its been so wonderful speaking to individuals from other disciplines such as history, classics, architecture. Rome is a city filled with the unexpected where layers of history are literally stacked on top of each other. For me, one of the most intriguing sculptures is on Pizza della Minerva where you can see an Egyptian Obelisk from 6th century BC balanced on top of a 17th century carved marble pig-like elephant by Bernini’.

Morgan Gostwyck-Lewis (Scholars’ Prize in Architecture Winner)


Scholars’ prizewinner Morgan Lewis is using his time at the BSR to research Etruscan tombs, and as such has been on numerous trips to ancient towns in the surrounding Lazio countryside, including Tarquinia, Veii and Cerveteri. One of the many perks of a BSR award is being allowed special access to sites that are otherwise closed to the public, all thanks to our wonderful Permissions Officer, Stefania Peterlini.


Ellie Johnson (Administrative Assitant)

All photos by Antonio Palmieri

A culinary tour of Italy at the BSR

Last week, one of our marvellous chefs Luca Albanese took it upon himself to guide the BSR award-holders, staff and residents on a culinary tour of Italy. Luca had to narrow the choice of Italian regions from twenty down to seven, and on each day we had a taste of a different region of Italy. Here Luca tells us a little about the culinary heritage of each region and the process of putting the week’s menu together.


Luca’s menu for the week

Monday: Liguria

Ligurian cooking is humble, and the dishes are very simple. The ingredients of pesto, the typical dish of the region, are basil, garlic, pine nuts, pecorino and oil, and the potatoes and beans added to the pasta make it a unique dish. The vegetable pie is also a speciality, containing borage, chard, spinach, egg, parmesan and rice. Although Liguria is mostly coastal, I wanted to test out the dishes from the inland parts of the region, full of traditions and influences from Piedmont and France.

La cucina ligure è una cucina povera, i piatti sono molto semplici. Nel pesto, prodotto tipico della regione, ci sono: Basilico, Aglio, Pinoli, Pecorino e olio, l’aggiunta di patate e fagiolini alla pasta lo rende un piatto unico. La torta di verdure, anche questo è un piatto unico, perché all’interno possiamo trovarci Boragine, Bieta, Spinaci, Uova, Parmigiano e Riso. Nonostante la Liguria sia una regione prevalentemente di mare, ho preferito far conoscere i piatti dell’entroterra, ricchi di tradizioni e influenze con Piemonte e Francia.


Tuesday: Toscana

Tuscany is renowned for its Florentine steak, a delicacy whose excellence can only be understood by those who have tried it! Tuscany is also famous for many other dishes, including pappa with tomato, ribollita – a Tuscan soup made with vegetable and bread, so called because it is made the day before eating (bollire = boil) and the next day it is reboiled – and gnudi, gnocchi made with semolina, ricotta and spinach, often served with butter and sage or tomato.

La Toscana è famosissima per la Bistecca alla Fiorentina, un unico pezzo da 1kg che solo chi l’ha assaggiata può capire la meravigliosa sensazione che si prova. Ma la Toscana è anche famosa per molti altri piatti, la Pappa col Pomodoro, la Ribollita (chiamata così perché si cuoce il giorno prima e il giorno dopo si fa ribollire), gli Gnudi, che sono gnocchi fatti con farina ricotta e spinaci, solitamente conditi con Burro e salvia o pomodoro.

Wednesday: Campania

The queen of Neapolitan cooking is without doubt the Margherita pizza, whose base is thicker than Roman pizza. Pizza was invented in Naples: the story goes that it was made for Queen Margaret by a Neapolitan pizza-maker in June 1889. Campanian cooking has produced many iconic dishes, such as caprese, melanzane parmigiana, pasta alla Sorrentina and carne alla Genovese, which despite its name was created in Naples. Many say that this dish was first made in a trattoria in front of the jetty where boats from Genova docked, but no one knows for sure.

La regina della cucina partenopea è senza dubbio la Pizza Margherita, un po più alta della pizza romana. La pizza fu inventata a Napoli, una leggenda vuole che sia stata fatta appositamente per la Regina Margherita da un pizzaiolo napoletano nel giugno del 1889. La cucina Campana ha dato la luce a molti piatti, come la Caprese, la Parmigiana di melanzane, la pasta alla Sorrentina, la carne alla genovese, che malgrado il nome è stata creata a Napoli, molti dicono che questo piatto era fatto da una trattoria di fronte al molo dove attraccavano le barche provenienti da Genova, ma non è una cosa certa.


Thursday: Lazio

Dishes from Rome and Lazio use a lot of “poor” ingredients, and the animals’ offal is often used, in dishes such as coratella, Roman-style tripe, sweetbreads and pajata (calf intestines). However, for the giro d’Italia I chose more conventional dishes, such as cacio e pepe, artichokes with mint, roast lamb and sautéed broccoli. For dessert I made black cherry tarts, which is a traditional produce from Sezze Romano, an ancient town in southern Lazio.

La cucina romana e del Lazio è piena di prodotti “poveri”, infatti vengono spesso usate le interiora degli animali, in piatti come la Coratella, La trippa alla romana, le Animelle, la Pajata. Ma per il nostro giro d’Italia ho scelto piatti più vicini al gusto di tutti, come il cacio e pepe, i carciofi con la mentuccia, l’abbacchio al forno e i broccoletti ripassati. Come dolce ho proposto le Crostatine di visciole, prodotto tipico di Sezze Romano, antico paese che si trova a sud del Lazio.


Friday: Veneto

Veneto has thousands of flavours, from liver with onions to salted cod soaked in milk, with sautéed onions and anchovies. Radish is another product typical of Veneto, and the signature dish of the region is risotto alla trevigiana. Also associated with this part of Italy is the famous dessert tiramisù, even though it actually comes from Friuli, which forms part of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region on the border between Italy and Slovenia. The tale associated with tiramisù  tells that clients at Veneto’s brothels were provided with the dessert upon arrival and departure.

Il Veneto ha mille sapori che variano dal Fegato con le cipolle al Baccalà alla vicentina che viene affogato nel latte, con un cospicuo soffritto di cipolle e acciughe. Un altro prodotto tipico del Veneto è il radicchio e quindi il Risotto alla Trevigiana diventa piatto della regione. Una curiosità, tipico di queste zone è il famosissimo dolce Tiramisù, anche se c’è il Friuli che rivendica la paternità del piatto. Anche qua la leggenda racconta che il Tiramisù veniva dato all’entrata/uscita delle “Case chiuse” per “rinforzare” i giovani clienti.


Saturday: Calabria

I revisited Calabria with a sandwich comprising several elements from this marvellous region. Spicy salami, Tropean onion and aubergine with olive oil… I think the result was “explosive!”

Ho rivisitato la Calabria con un panino ricco dei prodotti di questa meravigliosa terra. Salame piccante, cipolla di tropea e melanzane sott’olio…penso che il risultato sia stato “Esplosivo”!

Sunday: Sicilia

I wanted to honour Sicily with one of the best dishes in Italian cuisine, pasta alla Norma, made with a sauce of aubergines and baby tomatoes enriched with a sprinkle of salted ricotta. Sicily is the doorway to the east, and this has been an influence on many of its dishes, especially its desserts. Typical Sicilian dishes include panelle (Sicilian fritters), Sicilian sword fish, stucco alla messinese (Messina-style cod), falsomagro (stuffed steak pieces), cannoli, cassata… I could go on forever. Palermo is renowned for its many street-food vendors, and the most popular product is panino cu a milza (spleen sandwich)… only for connoisseurs!

Ho voluto omaggiare la Sicilia con uno dei piatti più buoni della cucina italiana, la pasta alla Norma, fatta con un sugo di melanzane e pomodorini arricchiti con una spolverata di ricotta salata. La Sicilia è la porta d’ingresso all’oriente e in moltissime cose ne è stata influenzata, soprattutto per i dolci. Piatti tipici siciliani sono Panelle, Pesce spada alla siciliana, Stocco alla messinese, il Falsomagro, i Cannoli, la Cassata e potrei continuare all’infinito. Famosi a Palermo sono i venditori di cibo per strada, lo street food, il prodotto più venduto è il panino cu a milza…solo per intenditori.



All photos and words by Luca Albanese

English translation by Ellie Johnson.

The BSR welcomes a new cohort of borsisti

At the end of December we said arrivederci to eleven award-holders, and at the start of 2017 we welcomed nine new borsisti into the fold. Here we take a look at the goings-on at the BSR thus far this year.

Welcome Week was a great success, with numerous tours and talks. We had two evenings in which our resident scholars and artists introduced their practice or area of research, and those returning brought us up to speed with where the first three months at the BSR had led them. It was fantastic to see such a range of disciplines, from letter-bearers in Roman antiquity to cinematic depictions of modern Rome via photographic installations and the study of Welsh painters in Rome.

Click here to see the full list of this year’s award-holders and their research topics.


Our January-March award-holders after the introductory talks. Photo by Antonio Palmieri

No Welcome Week would be complete without a lecture and tour from our Director Christopher Smith, and this time was no exception! On Friday evening, Christopher gave a wonderful talk on the Etruscans which was the perfect prelude to a tour of the nearby Villa Giulia, which houses the National Etruscan Museum. It was a great privilege to be shown around this treasure trove of Etruscan delights by a leading expert in the field who has a wealth of information on practically every piece in the museum!

The following week, our resident artists and scholars were led on two tours: the first by Visual Art Residency and Programme Curator Marco Palmieri, who lent his expert knowledge to a tour of the De Chirico Foundation, as well as selecting a number of Rome’s contemporary art galleries. This was followed by a tour of some of the highlights of Baroque Rome, including Palazzo Barberini and the genius of Borromini and Bernini manifested in nearby churches, with Assistant Director Tom True at the helm.

As always, the BSR has managed to fit a wealth of expertise on a wide range of topics into a few weeks in its conferences and evening lectures. The first event of the new year was a talk given by Catherine Fletcher, author of The Black Prince of Florence, who reflected on the depiction of the Medici family in light of Rai Uno’s new series Medici: Masters of Florence and the debate it has prompted about the relationship between historical fact and fiction. The podcast of this talk is coming soon! Since then, the BSR has also hosted Il Comizio dei Re, a conference bringing together new research on the Lapis Niger, a brilliant lecture on ancient biographical tradition by Roy Gibson, and an event presented by the British Council in Italy as part of the debate on migration in Europe.


British Council in Italy – ‘Bridges and Walls’

However, this does not mean to say that our award-holders have remained within the BSR walls since January – in keeping with the international outlook of the BSR, several scholars and artists have been on some exciting trips abroad for their research or practice. Zoe Cormack (Rome Fellow) encompassed Venice, London and Durham into one trip. On the Museo di Storia Naturale in Venice where Zoe was carrying out her research, Zoe said:

‘It is one of the largest, best conserved and most well documented collections of South Sudanese material culture in Europe.   Although African history is not a traditional draw to Venice, the Museo di Storia Naturale is one of the few places in the world where visitors can see historic South Sudanese material culture and artworks on permanent display.

‘I was lucky to spend a week studying the objects and supporting documentation in the Museum.  I was able to see Miani’s handwritten diaries from Sudan, some of his notes on the collections and a 1865 lithograph showing the original display of the objects. This trip has enormously enhanced my understanding of the formation of the collection and its history. I am very grateful to the staff of the Museum for their hospitality and for expertly guiding me through their collections’.

Also flying across the continent was Vivien Zhang (Abbey Scholar in Painting), this time to Berlin to meet Gábor Domokos, one of the creators of the gömböc, which has been, in Vivien’s words, ‘a source of inspiration for the past two years and going strong’. She even received her own gömböc as a gift!

Sinta Tantra (Bridget Riley Fellow) also travelled to London, where not only does she currently have her work produced in collaboration with Nick Hornby on display in group exhibition I Lost my Heart to a Starship Trooper, but also where she participated in the discussion Women’s work? Artists in conversation, an intergenerational discussion between artists, offering overlapping perspectives at the intersection of race, gender and politics.



Ellie Johnson (Administrative assistant)  

Transnationalizing Modern Languages at the BSR

The BSR is collaborating on a transformational AHRC Beacon project Transnationalizing Modern Languages, which is devising new approaches to fortify Modern Languages in response to decline in UK provision for the discipline. This project challenges the tradition of containing the study of modern languages within discrete national boundaries by investigating cultural exchange within communities and individuals across time and space.

In October, we hosted a three-day conference Transnational Italies: Mobility, Subjectivities and Modern Italian Cultures examining the mobility of Italian culture through patterns of emigration and immigration, and its interactions with other cultures across the globe.

In this video you can hear the opening talks by BSR Director Professor Christopher Smith, and conference organisers Professor Charles Burdett (Bristol), Professor Loredana Polezzi (Cardiff), and Dr Barbara Spadaro (Bristol).

See the TML website to hear further recordings from the conference including roundtable sessions and keynote lectures by Professor Ruth Ben Ghiat (New York) and Professor Dame Marina Warner (Birkbeck).

The conference was accompanied by a participatory exhibition BEYOND BORDERS. Transnational Italy (curated by Viviana Gravano and Giulia Grechi), displaying research processes and results. The BSR gallery was curated as a domestic environment, a metaphor for how language and culture offer us space to ‘inhabit’ our lives and our relations with others.

Later on in November, two of the organisers, Charles Burdett and Loredana Polezzi, gave a lecture at the British Academy exploring how a new focus on the web of interconnections between cultures is enriching our understanding of language and space.


For further information about Transnationalizing Modern Languages visit the project’s website:

Text by Tom True (Assistant Director)
Videos by Gianfranco Fortuna
Photos by Carolina Farina (Routes Agency)

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.


Gallery installation view


Gallery installation view


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.


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.


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


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).


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)