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).

Preparing for the year ahead: behind the scenes

As we wrote in our blog last week, August represents a change of pace for us. The Library has completed its annual ‘checking’ and inventory of 110,000(!) books and periodicals, as it prepares to re-open on Monday 29 August. August is also the time for Maintenance Officer Fulvio Astolfi to undertake any major renovation works needed for the recommencement of our events programme and the arrival of the new award-holders.

Last August, Fulvio’s attention was focused mainly on the Sustainable Building Project, which was successfully completed earlier this year .

This project was a large undertaking but is only the most recent of the makeovers that the building has gone through — since its beginnings as the British pavilion for the 1911 exposition in Rome — to become a residence fit for purpose for the hard creative work that we support.


The BSR as it stood over a century ago — as nothing more than a façade.

Along with these larger projects the BSR has always had a team of committed staff members to look after the building on a day to day basis. With the help of BSR Archivist Alessandra Giovenco we found this photograph (which some of you may recognise from the BSR’s One Hundred Years centenary volume) of Carpenter Pio Fiorini, Fulvio’s previous incarnation!


Pio Fiorini (left), joined the BSR on 10 March 1946. He is pictured with Giuseppe Fioranelli (right), who eventually took over Pio’s position following his retirement.

The picture shows the two outside on the tennis court, but the carpenter’s ‘office’ was the space underneath the front steps of our grand façade — since transformed into the Gallery during the building project of 2000.


From carpenter’s studio to exhibition space …. the Gallery under construction during the building works of 2000 that also saw the creation of the Sainsbury Lecture Theatre.

During the 2000 and 2015 building projects, the successors of Pio and Giuseppe, Maintenance Officer Fulvio Astolfi and Domestic Bursar Renato Parente have excelled in their commitment to to supporting the activity of our residence. Their tireless commitment to the Sustainable Building Project — and ongoing maintenance of the BSR building — has been immeasurable.

Fulvio Astolfi and Renato Parente during the building works of 2000. Photograph by Sarah Hyslop.


Renato and Fulvio in 2015 helping to prepare the Gallery for an exhibition. Photograph by Sophie Hay.

As we continue our work behind the scenes to prepare for the new academic year, we look forward to telling you about the work, ideas and discoveries, which the BSR will be home to in 2016-17.




If you would like to see more images from the Sustainable Building Project take a look at our blog celebrating its completion.

Images courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archives unless otherwise stated.

Behind the scenes in the BSR library

August always heralds in a much quieter time at the BSR; our lecture programme has finished for the academic year, the majority of our award-holders have left and many of the permanent staff choose this month to take their holiday.


With the additional closure of the Library to the public, August also provides the perfect opportunity for the annual Library inventory – over 60,000 volumes checked one by one and it only takes just over a week!

Space is at a premium now and another week is spent moving round kilometres of books to create space for next year’s acquisitions.

Thanks must go to this year’s team who have made this possible and particularly to our colleague Francesca Deli, who masterminds the whole operation!


Left to right: Cecilia Spano, Francesca Deli, Alessia Martella, Cecilia Carponi, Giulio Di Basilio, Stefano Delìa (Matteo Pagano not pictured)

Shelf checking is a two person job: here Stefano reads each book’s call number while Matteo checks it against the record.


Francesca controls the whole operation from her desk in the library office.


We look forward to the library’s reopening in September!


Images taken by Paul Barker and Natalie Arrowsmith

BSR in Glasgow: 2016 Society for Renaissance Studies biennial conference

‘At the biennial conference of the Society for Renaissance Studies (SRS), which took place 18-20 July at the University of Glasgow, the BSR put on a series of sessions on the theme of ‘Word and Image in the European Renaissance’. Organised by Piers Baker-Bates (Rome Scholar 2002-3) and Oren Margolis (Rome Award 2012-13), these sessions showed off a range of work being done by scholars of Rome, Italy and beyond: papers covered Siena, Venice, the Aegean and Spain, as well as Rome; big themes such as humanism, religious reform, and artistic patronage; and were broadly interdisciplinary, exploring in a variety of media – from easel and wall paintings, to books, to sculpture, to tapestry – the relationship of words to images, but also words in images and even words as images.


Conference group at Stirling Castle

As always, it was a sociable conference, especially for the BSR contingent, which sought out some of Glasgow’s finest culinary offerings. An excursion to Stirling Castle gave us a chance to explore one of the country’s most unique Renaissance monuments and discuss the identities of the historical and mythological personages depicted in the carved oak roundels!


A group of conference attendees in the University of Glasgow West Quadrant

The British School at Rome continues to build on its relationship with the SRS. The BSR’s support for scholars ensures the continued place for Italian (and European) Renaissance studies in Britain, while its encouragement for multidisciplinary research and transnational perspectives will be of increasing importance to the field in years to come.’


Conference dinner at the Oran Mor

Oren Margolis (Somerville College, Oxford; BSR Rome Award 2012-13)

A look back at the June Mostra 2016

In case you weren’t able to attend the June Mostra showing works produced by our seven resident artists from April to June, we have compiled our favourites from the official photographs of the exhibition (photographer: Roberto Apa). You can read the individual blogs published about each of the artists by clicking on an artist’s name.

The exhibition was made possible thanks to the kind support and generosity of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Australia Council for the Arts, the Helpmann Academy, The Incorporated Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Scholarships, The Linbury Trust and The National Art School, Sydney.

BSR - June 2016 - 039Gallery installation view

BSR - June 2016 - 021Gallery installation view

BSR - June 2016 - 025Corridor installation view

BSR - June 2016 - 028Foyer installation view


David Ryan (Abbey Fellow in Painting)

David Ryan, Variazioni Oblique dopo Balla Futurista, oil on linen, 15 x 20 cm, 30 paintings


Ross Taylor (Abbey Scholar in Painting)

BSR - June 2016 - 002

Ross Taylor, B, paint and ink on paper, 272 x 727 cm


Damien Duffy (Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellow)

Damien Duffy, False Flag, mixed media, plinth, oil and acrylic on canvas, dimensions variable

Damien Duffy, Back Stab, oil on canvas, flowers, dimensions variable


Joseph Griffiths (Australia Council Resident)

Joseph Griffiths, Fountains, water, travertine, silicon, irrigation tubes, sound, dimensions variable


Deborah Prior (Helpmann Academy Resident)

Deborah Prior, Lupa, found woolen blanket, pillow, stain, mixed media, dimensions variable


Margaret Roberts (National Art School, Sydney, Resident in Drawing)

Margaret Roberts, left to right: Ground Plan, tulle, elastic, nails, 110 x 240 cm; Triangle & Circle, graphite, wood, nails, 300 x 300 cm


Rachel Adams (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting & Sculpture)

Rachel Adams, left to right: Unravelled 1, tye-dye fabric on timber, stainless steel, t-shirt yarn, 125 x 73 cm; Scuttle Shuttle Shuffle, laser cut acrylic, fabric, timber, t-shirt yarn, 50 x 48 cm; See Saws, laser cut acrylic, fabric, timber, 113 x 113 x 25 cm; Unravelled 2, tye-dye fabric on timber, laser cut acrylic, t-shirt yarn, 150 x 120 cm

Meet the editors of the Papers of the British School at Rome (PBSR)

We are so happy to introduce our three editors of the Papers of the British School at Rome!

In a blog originally published on the Cambridge Journals Blog our three editors talk a little bit about themselves.


‘Earlier this year, the British School at Rome’s Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters decided to extend management of Papers of the British School at Rome (PBSR) from a single editor to a team of three editors in order to represent and promote the full disciplinary and chronological range of the journal. The three editors will continue to work closely with members of the Faculty, as well as staff and scholars of the BSR and Cambridge University Press, in order to publish high-quality peer-reviewed papers on the archaeology, literature and history of Italy and other parts of the Mediterranean on which Italy has exerted an influence. Below, the three editors introduce themselves and their interests and areas of expertise, and flag up some of their favourite PBSRpapers in recent years, which have been made available to you free of charge. If you have an idea for an article that you would like to send to the journal, the editors would be happy to discuss it further with you: their contact details are given below.


Ancient: Mark Bradley (University of Nottingham):

I have been Editor of PBSR since 2011, when I took over from Josephine Crawley-Quinn, and I am a member of the BSR’s Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters. I have been a regular visitor to the British School at Rome since the late 1990s, and much of my research – both as a postgraduate student and an academic scholar – has been inspired and supported by the extraordinary resources and activities of the School. In June 2007 I co-organised a conference there on ‘Rome, Pollution and Propriety: Dirt, Disease and Hygiene in Rome from Antiquity to Modernity’, which was published as a BSR monograph by Cambridge University Press in 2012. I have worked at the University of Nottingham for 12 years, where I am Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education in the Faculty of Arts. My primary research interests lie in the role of sensory perception in the literature and art of imperial Rome, and I am author of Colour and Meaning in Ancient Rome (2009) and editor of Smell and the Ancient Senses (2015). I also have interests in the reception of classical antiquity in modern European culture, and I am editor ofClassics and Imperialism in the British Empire (2010). I am currently working on a book on Foul Bodies in Ancient Rome, examining literary and artistic approaches to the bodies of history and myth that occupied the margins of civilized Roman society in the early Empire: my first foray into this area of research was published in PBSR 2011 as ‘Obesity, corpulence and emaciation in Roman art’.

PBSR has published first-rate papers on classical antiquity for over a hundred years, and there are some real gems among them. I remember being particularly influenced by John North’s study of ‘Conservatism and change in Roman religion’ (1976) and Susan Walker’s short paper on evidence for the iconography of Cleopatra at Pompeii (2008). Of the papers published under my editorship, two of my favourites are Seth Bernard’s provocative but important reassessment of the circuit walls of early Rome in PBSR 2012, and Jerry Toner’s fascinating study in PBSR 2015 of evidence forbarbers and barbershops as a window on to the ways we can reconstruct Roman popular culture. While PBSR continues to publish in its traditional areas of strength in Italian archaeology and Roman history, we have seen in recent years an increasing openness to studies of classical art and literature, and I hope that the journal will continue to be a venue for debating and discussing all aspects of ancient Rome and Roman Italy.


Medieval / Renaissance: Trevor Dean (Roehampton)

As a former Scholar of the British School (1980-81), it’s a great pleasure now to take up a new role as co-editor of the Papers. My own research has evolved strongly since the early 1980s – from political history to the history of crime, and from Ferrara to Italy more generally. But Rome has never been far from my concerns, especially in my teaching, where students and colleagues have kept me in touch with Roman history and culture. Thinking about how the Papers have contributed to my evolving scholarly foci, I particularly recall some articles by my teachers, co-authors and colleagues, such as Daniel Waley’s playfully-titled ‘Combined operations in Sicily’ (1954), Philip Jones’ magisterial ‘Florentine families and Florentine diaries’ (1956), and Kate Lowe’s study of reverse-patronage in ‘Artistic patronage at the Clarissan convent of S. Cosimato, 1400-1600’ (2001). Two articles that I have used and valued in my study of conflict and criminal justice are:Peter Clarke’s comparison (1999) of the clerical interdict of San Gimignano, 1289-93, to a strike, in which the commune hired ‘scab’ clerical labour, violently took possession of the parish church and its bells, and accused the clergy of theft of precious objects; and Miles Pattenden’s investigation(2009) of the expanding judicial powers of the papal governor of Rome in the later fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which was accompanied by a relaxation of statutory rules on judicial practice – an important institutional background to the rich trial records which have been so engagingly used by historians such as Tom and Elizabeth Cohen. I hope that we shall be publishing articles as good as these in the next few years.


Modern: Aristotle Kallis (Lancaster)

I consider my time as Balsdon Fellow at the BSR (2014-15) as one of the most intellectually rewarding periods of my academic life. It is thus with immense pleasure that I take up the role of co-editor of the Papers, with my focus being on papers with a more modern, post-17th century focus. Over the years, my research has often centred on the idea and the city of Rome in the twentieth century, with particular – and more recent – focus on its urban planning and modern architectures. But Rome is a city of such unique and fascinating historical density, in time and space, that I always find its pull irresistible. I am currently working on a history of Rome’s ‘other modernisms’ in the early twentieth century, studying in particular how the spirit of modern innovation was infused by local architects with ideas drawn from regional traditions and the surrounding built environment. I am particularly intrigued by the production of the Institute of Public Housing (ICP) in Rome during the first three decades of the last century. But I also find that the history of Rome always confronts the researcher with much broader questions that transcend conventional categories of historical time or geographic space. Recently I have become interested in exploring how the tropes of romanità and mediterraneità have influenced international modernist architecture and urban planning in the twentieth century.

PBSR has its own, perhaps less well-known, treasure chest of articles covering the modern period in the history of the city and Italy as a whole. I remember in particular Charles Burdett’s fascinatingly wide-reaching 2011 article ‘Nomos, Identity and Otherness: Ciro Poggiali’s Diario Aoi 1936–1937 and the Representation of the Italian Colonial World’. But it is the sheer diversity of chronological, thematic, and disciplinary coverage that makes the Papers such a special and dynamic journal of scholarship. Browsing through the (physical or digitised) pages of the 2008 issue of the Papers (to take one example), readers can immerse themselves in the Iron Age and the Mycenaeans, in visual art from Pompeii, in painting from early medieval and Renaissance Rome, in archaeological discoveries and millennia-long surveys of the Aurelian walls, in literature at the time of the Risorgimento, and in migration in post-war Rome. This is a prime example of the openness to diverse interests and approaches that the Papers have successfully pursued in recent years; and I am confident that this is an aspiration that will continue to drive the journal’s reputation as a welcoming venue for high-quality scholarship on diverse aspects of modern and contemporary Rome and Italy.’

Helen Gorham (Cambridge Journals Blog Contributor)

Meeting Architecture III: Fragments

The events of human life, whether public or private, are so intimately linked to architecture that most observers can reconstruct nations or individuals in all the truth of their habits from the remains of their monuments or from their domestic relics.’

Honoré de Balzac

Our current Architecture Programme Meeting Architecture III: FRAGMENTS considers how ideologies are shaped, memories evoked and emotions stirred by buildings, their contents and their ruins. 

We are now halfway through the programme having hosted the following lectures and exhibitions at the BSR in 2015-16:

  • Robert Bevan, ‘Culture and genocide’
  • Akram Zaatari, ‘The Archaeology of Rumour’
  • Francesco Bandarin, ‘The past as hostage. Heritage, conflicts and international organisations’
  • Dor Guez, ’40 Days’
  • Eyal Weizman, ‘Only the criminal can solve the crime’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you were not able to make it to any of these events, full video recordings are available of the lectures by Robert Bevan, Francesco Bandarin, Dor Guez and Eyal Weizman on our YouTube channel.

We very much look forward to seeing what the second half of this programme will bring!

Photos taken by Antonio Palmieri and  Giorgio Benni