A petition to free Ezra Pound

In 1955, American poet Ezra Pound turned 70 confined in St Elizabeths Hospital in Washington for the criminally insane. He had been there for almost a decade, since pleading insanity in November 1945, to avoid facing treason charges for his activities as pro-Axis propagandist on Rome Radio during the Second World War – charges that could very likely have led to the death penalty. Many writers, such as Archibald MacLeish, Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost, sought to mobilise public opinion, lobbying for the poet’s release. Yale Broadcasting Company recorded ‘A Tribute to Ezra Pound’, a radio programme that collected testimonials by, amongst others, W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams and E.E. Cummings. Though some of these writers admitted to having no first-hand knowledge of Pound’s broadcasts, such was their devotion to Pound that they agreed to take part nonetheless. Their contributions were collected in Ezra Pound at Seventy, and the broadcast can be listened to here: https://library.harvard.edu/poetry/listeningbooth/poets/pound.html

Similar campaigns were also underway in Italy, where Pound had lived for over twenty years until his arrest. In 1954, his son-in-law had helped arrange a series of broadcasts on Vatican radio, with José V. de Piña Martins, professor of Portuguese at Rome University, launching an appeal to free Pound. Also in 1955, poet Giovanni Papini collected signatures for a petition addressed to the American ambassador in Rome, Clare Boothe Luce, demanding Pound’s release. Co-ordinating many of these efforts was Pound’s Italian publisher, Vanni Scheiwiller, who worked ceaselessly to enlist the support of writers, poets and intellectuals, on both sides of the political spectrum. Scheiwiller offered to act as ‘postman’ for Papini’s petition, which was signed by a long list of writers, including Alberto Moravia, Ignazio Silone, Umberto Saba and Giuseppe Ungaretti. Though poets Vittorio Sereni and Salvatore Quasimodo and translator Fernanda Pivano agreed to sign Papini’s petition, their writings and correspondence with Scheiwiller reveal their enduring reservations about Pound’s wartime activities. I wrote this poem, which revisits their writings on the subject, to reflect the ambivalence of their responses.

 

Not ideas but ties

a united front

of many factions

bind poets, critics, left & right.

 

All, perhaps, agree on compassion,

incline to ask for grace –

less so to endorse action

committed in poetry’s name,

to clear responsibility

that does exist

that needs

examination.

 

Take Lorca – his position

in the order of civilisation;

Pound’s in a limbo, slightly strange –

civilisation yes, but which?

If you write the ambassador,

you must to Franco too. Find

the lost bones a proper spot,

better than the red rag

or Santa Ana. We’ll call it

negotiation.

 

Today in my heart

I feel a tremor of stars

but my path is lost

in the soul of the mist.

 

Spoon River seized, so far

from the jargon – words

made to mean the same,

Leone Ginzburg dead

in the Queen of Heaven.

And what of the meathooks

and the bloody branches?

 

How could we sing

with hearts under

foreign foot, with the dead

that crowd the square

on ice-hard grass,

the children’s lamb-lament,

the black cry

of mother seeking son

hung on the telegraph pole?

 

A war of many wars,

some with histories

still there in the street names –

some cried out too loud

others quiet in defeat: on the

green lawns of the ward

so far from the noise,

was the first silence sown

to build and accrete?

 

On the willow fronds, by vow,

a tree amid the wood

the poets had hung their lyres

of Daphne and the laurel bough

which swung lightly in the wind.

 

Sean Mark (Rome Fellow 2018-19)

 

 

Summer and art at the BSR

Our July artists in residence from Newcastle University and those on the Meade Rome Residency from the University of the Arts London (Chelsea and London College of Communication) arrived just as the BSR façade was being completed. Together with Sainsbury Scholar Anna Brass and the three architects in residence on the Boas Award (Marco Fiorino, Fiona Cuypers-Stanienda and Aoi Phillips Yamashita), they curated a pop-up exhibition on the portico and steps on the evening of 25 July.

Elin Karlsson Portico_Elin_Karlsson2019_38

Elin Karlsson, untitled, 2019 (photo: Elin Karlsson)

Elin Karlsson (LCC, UAL) unfurled three large sails which she lit against the night sky with a floodlight hidden in a tiny cluster-cave of salt dough, broken glass and candles. Karl Foster (Chelsea, UAL) filled three abandoned niches beneath Piazzale Winston Churchill with a triptych of small dead trees that he found at the bottom of the road, with their roots exposed. Karl covered some of the tips of the branches with bits of plastic and clothing as a way to heal their wounds, ineffectually.

Karl Foster photo Portico_Elin_Karlsson2019_13

Karl Foster, i vostri figli i ragazzi pairoli crea spazzatura, 2019 (photo: Elin Karlsson)

Marco Fiorino (Cambridge) exhibited architectural mappings of in-between spaces connecting gardens and public urban spaces, having spent his time to explore historical gardens in and around Rome.

Marco Fiorino photo Elin_Karlsson2019_9

Marco Fiorino, Gardens for Third Nature, 2019 (photo: Elin Karlsson)

Abigail Hampsey’s (Newcastle University) paintings contrasted the classical limestone framework with entwined fluorescent narratives and Remi Rana Allen (Chelsea, UAL) presented The Memoirs of Lady Vagina Dentata and Killer Queen, a Medusa’s head made of Indian hair extensions from Delhi placing ‘black hair and dark skin’ as protagonists within traditional Western myths.

Abighail Hampsey photo Elin_Karlsson2019

Abi Hampsey, don’t miss, 2019 (photo: Elin Karlsson)

Remi Rana Allen photo Portico_Elin_Karlsson2019_17

Remi Rana Allen, Killer Queen, 2019 (photo: Elin Karlsson)

Fiona Cuypers-Stanienda’s (Architectural Association) four photographs of people and objects occupied an off-centre area near the doorway, reflecting her self-imposed challenge to understand and represent the use of public space in Rome.

Fiona Cuypers-Stanienda photo Portico_Elin_Karlsson2019_1

Fiona Cuypers-Stanienda, untitled, 2019 (photo: Elin Karlsson)

These very different practices that somehow spoke to each other brought the façade, hidden for months behind scaffolding, to life within an expansive discourse. This was an internal event that took place in an external setting which meant that people walking by were intrigued and stopped to look at the works exhibited.

In the previous weeks Meaghan Stewart (Newcastle University) led a monoprint workshop with left-over paints from previous BSR residents, inviting anyone curious to drop into her studio, including scholars and architects. She encouraged the less expert through the steps, from how to ink the acetate or glass support, create designs for effect, and experiment with different techniques. Some of the monoprints were exhibited on a table under the portico, including work by Anna Brass, Aoi Phillips Yamashita (Architectural Association) and Meaghan. The table featured small sculptures too, creating a miniature landscape for the prints.

Anna Brass, Aoi Phillips Yamashita and Meaghan Stewart photo Portico_Elin_Karlsson2019_5

Anna Brass, Aoi Phillips Yamashita and Meaghan Stewart (photo: Elin Karlsson)

Meaghan Stewart monoprint (photo MC)

Meaghan Stewart, untitled (Fountain of Maremma), 2019 (photo: Martina Caruso)

Meaghan Stewart monoprint workshop (photo MC)

Monoprint workshop with Meaghan Stewart (photo: Martina Caruso)

 

Martina Caruso (Assistant Director for Art, Architecture and the Creative Industries)

BSR Members visit the Ashmolean Museum’s Western Art Print Room

Membership of the BSR has been an invaluable asset to me over the past few years. As a pied-à-terre in Rome, and as a research resource in its own right, the Lutyens’ building prominent on Via Gramsci has been the ideal base for my research. Morning walks through the Borghese gardens to various palazzi, churches and galleries, afternoons spent in the BSR library, and evenings engaged in chatting with guests and staff over supper, have also been part of the draw. However, UK activities have rarely been a focus for me. This changed in dramatic style recently when as a BSR member, I was invited to the Prints and Drawings Room of the Ashmolean Museum to meet members of the Italian Drawings Project.

Conveniently, the Ashmolean was part of my planned primary research for this year. For the past few months I have been earnestly engaged in converting my PhD thesis into Henry Hoare the Collector, the ‘book of the thesis’ – so to speak. The focus of my PhD research was the reception of ancient Roman myth, art and literature in the eighteenth-century English landscape garden. A key influence on this movement was seventeenth- and eighteenth-century landscape painting, and specially the work of Claude, Poussin and Dughet. As an example of this influence, the Pantheon in Henry Hoare’s landscape garden at Stourhead, one of the best-known examples of the genre, features a trio of statues which seemingly represent the Choice of Hercules. Poussin’s version of this theme can still be found in the house at Stourhead. One time near-neighbour of Henry’s, Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, also owned a painting of this theme by Paolo de’ Matteis. This painting now hangs in the Ashmolean. A section of the book in preparation deals with eighteenth-century interest in this theme, and hence my planned visit to Oxford.

On the day, after having glutted myself on the de’Matteis canvas, I met with the BSR group organised by Natasha Burbridge, and I was delighted to find old BSR friends Harriet O’Neill and Alice Marsh forming part of the group. We were led by Angelamaria Aceto through the museum and into the hallowed space of the Western Drawing Room. Here we were greeted by Angelamaria’s colleague, Ian Hicks, and directed to a line of seats by the window, set teasingly in front of three upright easels. I opted to perch on the window-ledge and Angelamaria began revealing the first of a succession of visual treats.

Members

BSR Members view a selection of drawings. Photo: Alice Marsh.

Our two hours included viewing drawings by Raphael and Michelangelo, selected to illustrate a variety of themes and techniques. The latter included working in black and red chalk, as well as the metalpoint technique, of which we learnt that Raphael was a keen exponent. The themes explored included consideration of the purpose of drawings, i.e. those intended as preparation for other pieces (‘functional’), experimental pieces, auxiliary drawings, as well as presentation drawings. To illustrate this last category, we were invited to contemplate Raphael’s preparatory study (see below) for the Vatican Transfiguration altarpiece.

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WA1846.209, Studies of the heads of two apostles and of their hands, Raphael. © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.  

The third and final element of our all too short visit was a selection of drawings presented by Ian illustrating the connections between the work of Parmigianino and Correggio, and evidence of the former’s influence on the latter. A highlight for me was the chance to view a Parmigianino’s cartoon on grey-blue paper of The Nativity.

Never has two hours passed quite so quickly, and presumably to protect us from the onset of Stendhal’s syndrome, at just after 1pm our hosts thanked us for attending and we filed out into the main museum.

We were effusive with our thanks on the day, but I am nevertheless pleased to have this further opportunity to thank the BSR and the Prints and Drawings Room staff for their kindness in organising such a memorable visit. I hope very much that the Ashmolean Italian Drawings Project will go from strength-to-strength. Natasha has mentioned organising other, similar trips for BSR members.

Text by Professor John Harrison (BSR Member)
http://www.open.ac.uk/people/jeh774
http://open.academia.edu/JohnHarrison

My thanks to Angelamaria Aceto for her comments on an earlier draft of this blog.


If you are interested in becoming a member of the BSR, please contact Natasha Burbridge at development@bsrome.it.

Restoring the ‘Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi, mastro dell’arte del cucinare’

(English translation below)

La Biblioteca della BSR possiede due volumi dell’Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi.  L’edizione del 1643 e la preziosissima prima edizione del 1570.

ediz. 1570

Bartolomeo Scappi, cuoco privato dei pontefici Paolo III e Pio V, fu l’autore di quello che viene considerato il più importante testo di Gastronomia del XVI secolo, Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi, mastro dell’arte del cucinare, divisa in sei libri (1570).

Scappi prestò servizio come cuoco presso i più noti personaggi del tempo, tra cui il pontefice Pio V per il quale curò il banchetto d’intronizzazione, divenendone successivamente ‘cuoco segreto’ (cioè ‘privato’).

tav. 1643 dopo

I sei volumi della sua Opera propongono al lettore oltre mille ricette, ma suggeriscono anche innovative tecniche di ristorazione, preziosi suggerimenti per la conservazione degli alimenti, regole per l’allestimento di banchetti e tutte le conoscenze che un cuoco rinascimentale di alto livello doveva possedere.  Nel trattato troviamo persino i primi cenni di cucina dietetica per persone inferme e utili riflessioni sull’igiene alimentare.  Tra le tante curiosità in cui ci si può imbattere durante la lettura dell’Opera vi è la prima raffigurazione conosciuta di una forchetta o la definizione del parmigiano reggiano come ‘il miglior formaggio del mondo’.

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Nel 2017 la BSR ha provveduto al restauro e alla conservazione dell’edizione del 1643.  Grazie a questo intervento, eseguito a cura dello Studio Aelle di Luigia Antonazzo, il libro è ora perfettamente recuperato e fruibile.

Nuove prospettive si aprono ora per il restauro e la conservazione della rarissima edizione del 1570. Si è, infatti, avviata una proficua collaborazione con l’Istituto Alberghiero ‘Sandro Pertini’ di Brindisi.  Sotto la guida della Prof.ssa Severina Carnevale, ideatrice del progetto, gli studenti di questa scuola hanno così deciso di ‘adottare’ il libro. Per ora l’incontro con il prezioso volume è potuto avvenire solo via Skype, grazie alla disponibilità della Bibliotecaria della BSR, Dott.ssa Valerie Scott, e della restauratrice Luigia Antonazzo.

L’interesse dei giovani studenti è stato grande e con i loro docenti, Professori Miano, Bistanti, Rubino, Marrazzo, Ugenti, De Giuseppe, Mariano, Fanciullo e Pellegrino, hanno avviato un percorso di ricerca e recupero delle antiche ricette di Scappi culminato nell’allestimento di un ‘Saggio di Cucina Rinascimentale’.  Un vero e proprio ‘banchetto rinascimentale’ tenutosi il 6 giugno 2019 presso le sale dell’Istituto Pertini.  Il ‘Menù dei Papi’ è stato molto apprezzato dai commensali e tante sono state le curiosità riguardo le tecniche e gli ingredienti usati.

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I piatti serviti sono stati: uovo ripieno, crostone con capirotata, gattafure di cipolle alla genovese,riso alla damaschina, arrosto con prugne-uvetta e mele, insalata di mescolanza con fiori, insalata con capperi ed uva passa, fraole saucate con zuccaro, torta bianca reale, finocchio fresco dolce, arance candite e taralli dolci.

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Un grande plauso, dunque, agli studenti del Pertini, con l’augurio che la collaborazione possa proseguire e che il patrimonio librario della BSR possa essere utile alla ulteriore crescita della loro sensibilità storica e delle loro competenze professionali.

Gina Antonazzo (Studio Aelle di Luigia Antonazzo)

http://www.brindisitime.it/presso-lalberghiero-pertini-si-e-svolto-il-saggio-di-cucina-rinascimentale/

 


 

Bartolomeo Scappi, private chef to Popes Paul III and Pius V, was the author of what would come to be considered the most important text on gastronomy from the 16th century, Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi, maestro dell’arte del cucinare (1570).

The BSR Library has two volumes of the Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi, the 1643 edition, and the first edition of 1570.

Scappi took up service as chef to Pope Pius V for whom he prepared the banquet of enthronement, and thereafter became known as the ‘secret chef’ (in the sense of ‘private’).

The six volumes of his Opera set out over 1,000 recipes, but also make suggestions about innovative techniques for food conservation, how to set up the banquet tables and everything you might want to learn from a renaissance chef working in the top echelons of society. We even find mention of dietary requirements for the sick, and some useful reflections on food hygiene. Amongst other curiosities within the book we find the first depiction of a fork, as well as Parmigiano Reggiano being described as ‘the best cheese in the world’.

In 2017 the BSR arranged for the restoration and conservation of the 1643 edition. Thanks to this intervention, carried out by Studio Aelle di Luigia Antonazzo, the book is now perfectly salvaged and usable.

New possibilities are now opening up for the restoration and conservation of the rare edition of 1570, in the form of a collaboration with the Istituto Alberghiero ‘Sandro Petrini’ in Brindisi. Under the guidance of Professor Severina Carnevale, the project’s creator, students of the school have ‘adopted’ the book. So far, their contact with the book has only been possible through Skype, thanks to the willingness of BSR Librarian, Valerie Scott, and the restorer Luigia Antonazzo.

The students took great interest, and alongside their teachers, Professors Miano, Bistanti, Rubino, Marrazzo, Ugenti, De Giuseppe, Mariano, Fanciullo and Pellegrino, they began a course researching and rediscovering Scappi’s recipes, culminating in the production of a ‘Saggio di Cucina Rinascimentale’, and a Renaissance banquet was held on 6 June at the Istituto Pertini. The ‘Menu di Papa’ was much appreciated by the diners who were intrigued by the techniques and ingredients used. The dishes were as follows: uovo ripieno, crostone con capirotata, gattafure di cipolle alla genovese,riso alla damaschina, arrosto con prugne-uvetta e mele, insalata di mescolanza con fiori, insalata con capperi ed uva passa, fraole saucate con zuccaro, torta bianca reale, finocchio fresco dolce, arance candite etaralli dolci.

Many thanks to the students of the Istituto Pertini – we hope that this collaboration will continue to offer them a sense of the historical tradition in which they are working as they progress in their culinary careers.

Gina Antonazzo (Studio Aelle di Luigia Antonazzo)

http://www.brindisitime.it/presso-lalberghiero-pertini-si-e-svolto-il-saggio-di-cucina-rinascimentale/

 


Back in February BSR cook Luca Albanese treated BSR staff, residents and award-holders to a Renaissance themed dinner based on one of Scappi’s recipes, which included costolette di maiale, cavolo alla romanesca, and rotolo di datteri.

 

 

Imagining and reimagining Rome with the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

At the start of June, a group of nine students from the Midlands4Cities DTP arrived at the BSR for a week-long residential workshop, bringing together doctoral researchers in archaeology, art history and theory, classics, museum studies, performing arts, and photography. Taking the creative community of the BSR as a model, the aim of the workshop was to use the city of Rome as a stimulus for conversations across a range of academic and practice-based disciplines.

Co-produced by Midlands4Cities academics and BSR staff and award-holders, the programme was designed to build connections between our doctoral researchers and the wider community of artists and scholars at the BSR.

Anna Brass Studio Visit 2

Studio visit with Anna Brass. Photo by Lara Pucci.

Our activities began with visits to the studios of artist award-holders Anna Brass and Jade Ching-yuk Ng, led by Marta Pellerini (Visual Art Residency and Programme Curator). Hearing Anna and Jade talk about the challenges and rewards of making new work amidst Rome’s vast artistic heritage was the perfect introduction to our explorations of the city. Our studio conversations introduced themes that would crop up again and again over the course of the week: the unresolvedness of the urban fabric, things not being (materially) what they seem, the proliferation of fragments and layers, and the tension between history and contemporaneity.

With these themes in mind, Neil Christie (University of Leicester) led a walking tour of city walls and gates, starting with the Porta Pinciana and ending with what remains of the Servian walls at Stazione Termini. Neil got us thinking about how Rome has been defined and redefined by its walls, and how what remains of them tells a story about the physical and ideological development of the city.

Piazza Colonna

Walking tour with Neil Christie. Photo by Lara Pucci.

After our first foray into streets of Rome, we returned for an archival tour of the city with librarian Valerie Scott and archivist Alessandra Giovenco. Valerie and Alessandra showed us highlights from the BSR’s incredible topographical collections – including Piranesi’s improbable etchings, Robert Macpherson’s pioneering photographs, and Sir William Gell’s delightful sketchbook – sharing fascinating insights into collection history and conservation practice along the way.

Library Archive Session

Library and Archive session. Photo by Lara Pucci.

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The Pantheon photographed by Robert MacPherson, 1850s. Courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archives.

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Close-up of a William Gell notebook. Photo by Ben White.

Harriet O’Neill (Assistant Director for the Humanities and Social Sciences) led a follow-up session engaging the group in collaborative research to produce a museum label for one of a selection of intriguing archival objects. Working in multidisciplinary groups, students got to grips with researching unfamiliar objects and interpreting them for a general audience, bringing to light new information about the BSR’s collections in the process.

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Photo by Antonio Palmieri.

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Photo by Antonio Palmieri.

Wednesday took us to the Roman Forum in the company of Niccolò Mugnai (BSR Residential Research Fellow). Niccolò expertly guided us through the Forum’s fragments and layers, unpacking the evolution of the ancient city, and exploring alternative theories about what remains. Taking refuge from the heat, we concluded our Forum visit in Santa Maria Anitqua whose immersive multimedia displays allowed us to examine the effectiveness of digital technologies in heritage interpretation.

Niccolo Forum

Forum visit with Niccolò Mugnai. Photo by Lara Pucci.

Back at the BSR, David Robinson (University of Nottingham) invited us, by way of the writing of nineteenth-century British travellers, to return vicariously to the sites we had visited that morning. Examining the ways in which the Roman Empire was used both to endorse and critique British imperialism, David got us thinking about the multiple and expedient ways in which the Roman past has been reimagined.

This set the scene for Thursday’s visit to Piazza Augusto Imperatore where Chris Siwicki (BSR Rome Fellow) and Lara Pucci (University of Nottingham) discussed Augustan monuments and their fascist-era appropriation. As well as comparing the political uses of architecture under both regimes, we shared ideas about shifting attitudes to heritage and conservation, including the vexed debates surrounding the material legacies of the fascist past.

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At the Ara Pacis with Chris Siwicki and Lara Pucci. Photo by Ben White.

The collaborative theme continued into the afternoon with an inspiring talk by Stephen Milner (BSR Director) on the biology of the book. Hearing about Stephen’s innovative work with the Books and Beasts project highlighted the rich possibilities of research co-production across the humanities and sciences.

That evening, we were introduced to the cinematic city by way of the BSR’s screening of Roma, città aperta (dir. Roberto Rossellini, 1945) to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Rome. Viewing Rossellini’s on-screen reclamation of Rome from Fascism neatly bridged our on-site explorations of the city’s fascist and cinematic heritage.

Friday morning took us to Cinecittà for a tour of sets and studios. Visiting the set built for HBO’s Rome series was a particular favourite. Having immersed ourselves in the fragmented authenticity of the ancient city, the vision of a fibreglass Rome made whole, however inauthentically, proved captivating.

Cinecitta

Cinecittà. Photo by Lara Pucci.

After the spectacular fakery of Cinecittà, we spent the afternoon exploring a wealth of original artworks and documents at the Giulio Turcato Archive. This special visit, organised by Martina Caruso (Assistant Director for Art, Architecture and the Creative Industries), introduced the group to a key figure in Rome’s post-war art scene. As Martina led us through the collection, we discussed the peripheral place of Italy in histories of modern art, as well as issues of archival research and practice.

On Saturday morning, our work-in-progress session invited small groups of students to present initial responses to the week’s activities. Each group brought together researchers from different disciplines and institutions to consider how their varied expertise might, collaboratively, address questions raised by things we had seen in Rome.

The first group (Rachael Banes, Kallina Brailsford, Zoltán Pallag) examined the musealisation of Santa Maria Antiqua, raising urgent questions about the competing priorities of historical narrative and visitor experience. Group two (Laura Dudley, Emily Gray, Ben White) used an independent visit to the Time is Out of Joint exhibit at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna as a point of departure for exploring Rome’s rich dialogues between past and present. Our third group (Ashley Chhibber, Tadas Stalyga, Jessica Venner) introduced the evocative concept of scavenging to draw attention to the highly selective conservation of the city’s material heritage.

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Photo by Ben White.

The sharing of these thought-provoking ideas was a real highlight of our week at the BSR.

Students are now exploring ways to develop these Roman discussions into more resolved work back in the Midlands, where we plan to expand our collaborative conversations to include researchers from the wider M4C cohort.

In the meantime, we hope that our workshop participants will return to their research refreshed by the experience of Rome. By inviting students to step outside the intense focus of their PhD projects, the workshop encouraged them to reflect on how alternative approaches might inform their own practice. If research is enriched by conversation, there should be no shortage of wealth to take back to the Midlands!

 

Lara Pucci (Assistant Professor in History of Art, University of Nottingham)

Photography workshops

The past few months have been photographically eventful at the BSR, and while we have yet to set up a bona fide dark room, we appropriated the lavatories by the lecture theatre for an afternoon of impromptu printing.

On a sunny Saturday in March, Anna Brass (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture), David Whiting, a darkroom-based photographer and member of The Gate Darkroom in London, and Martina Caruso (Assistant Director for Art, Architecture and the Creative Industries), organised a pinhole camera workshop: we hung black-out material over the bathroom door, set up the safe lamp and laid out three trays for the chemicals. To dry the prints, we made do with string and clothes pegs in the neighbouring cloak room. In spite of these rudimentary arrangements, some excellent results were achieved.

Fig. 1 Anna Brass BSR tennis court March 2019

BSR tennis court by Anna Brass.

The fourteen participants included scholars, artists and staff from the BSR and beyond: Mercedes Jaén joined from the Spanish Academy with professional British photographer Richard Davies. Jaén’s skilful experimentations picked up on unusual aspects of the Lutyens façade.

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BSR façade by Mercedes Jaén

Richard also achieved interesting results using his digital camera as a pinhole by removing the technical apparatus and turning it into a camera obscura, directly exposing the digital screen.

Fig. 3 Richard Davies In_the_dark_room

Richard Davies in the dark room

David Whiting’s pinhole camera was passed around as one of the most reliable for actually taking a photograph. Others transformed shoeboxes, tea boxes, and Anna Brass made her own nine-hole camera which doubled up as a miniature house.

Fig. 4 David Whiting using Anna Brass' nine hole pinhole camera

David Whiting using Anna Brass’ nine-hole pinhole camera.

In May, BSR archivist Alessandra Giovenco invited Tony Richards, a professional wet collodion plate photographer from The John Rylands Library (The University of Manchester), to give us a demonstration of this Victorian technique. Tony talked BSR scholars, artists, staff and patrons through his methods as well as how to avoid explosions and intoxications from the chemicals. Artist Kirtika Kain (National Art School, Sydney, Resident) became Tony’s assistant for the day observing that the workshop opened ‘a world of early photography so new to us: the chemistry, physicality and magic of each element. As an Australian-Indian artist, I couldn’t help but reflect on early colonial and ethnographic photography as I stood before the lens.’

Fig. 5 Kirtika Kain wet collodion workshop

Kirtika Kain poses for the camera.

David Whiting also found the workshop to be a ‘fantastic opportunity to discover one of the earliest photographic techniques for creating extremely high-quality images’ saying ‘I now feel confident about using the techniques in my own darkroom-based practice and exploring collodion’s rich artistic potential.’ Kirtika, David and Alessandra were able to create glass and metal-based prints of their own after learning about the theory.

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Having to sit still for five to ten seconds means that the sitter’s stare acquires a holographic, slightly haunted quality which transpires in Victorian photographs, somehow bridging a gap with the past and helping us feel connected to some of the early practitioners and their subjects.

Fig. 7 Anna Brass Kirtika Kain and Stefania Peterlini wet collodion workshop portrait

Portrait of Anna Brass, Kirtika Kain, and Stefania Peterlini, using the wet collodion technique.

 

Martina Caruso (Assistant Director for Art, Architecture and the Creative Industries)

City of Rome Postgraduate Course 2019

A long-established component of the BSR study offer, the annual City of Rome Postgraduate Course took place from 1 April to 29 May 2019. With Cary Fellow Robert Coates-Stephens on sabbatical (on a Fellowship at ANAMED, the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations within Koç University of Istanbul), this year’s course was directed by Amanda Claridge (Royal Holloway University of London, Emerita Professor). The programme was co-organised and run with Niccolò Mugnai (Residential Research Fellow) and with the precious support of Stefania Peterlini (Permissions Officer); logistical support was kindly provided by Tanya Di Rienzo (Administrative Officer), Natalie Arrowsmith (Communications Manager), and Christine Martin (Residence and Estate Manager). The course was attended by a group of eleven MA and PhD students from the universities of Nottingham, Manchester, Oxford, St Andrews, Warwick, Reading, and King’s College London.

Fig 1

The City of Rome group at the Maritime Theatre of Hadrian’s Villa.

Each year this course offers an exciting opportunity to delve deep into the history, archaeology, topography, art and architecture of the Eternal City. The richness of the programme and its thoroughness make this course unique in the context of higher education within and beyond the UK. This year’s programme was further expanded to include some sites located in the environs of Rome: Segni, Tivoli, Praeneste, Grottaferrata, the Alban Hills (Lanuvium, the Alban Lake, Nemi, Villa Palazzola), and Rome’s maritime façade (Ostia, Portus, Isola Sacra, Castelporziano). The chronological frame under examination spanned from the Archaic period through to Late Antiquity (eighth century BC – fifth century AD). However, we also looked at the profound urban transformations of the Medieval and Baroque periods, dedicating some time to visiting the principal churches in Rome, such as Santa Maria Maggiore, San Giovanni in Laterano, San Pietro in Vincoli, Santa Maria in Cosmedin, San Lorenzo in Lucina, Sant’Agnese fuori le mura, Santa Sabina, and Santa Maria in Trastevere.

The course provided an up-to-date account of the historical development of the major monuments and urban spaces of ancient Rome, discussing – and in some cases challenging – the results of the most recent archaeological research undertaken in the heart of the city. This was complemented by targeted visits to the Capitoline Museums (Palazzo dei Conservatori, Palazzo Clementino-Caffarelli, Palazzo Nuovo, Centrale Montemartini), the Etruscan National Museum (Villa Giulia and Villa Poniatowski), the Roman National Museum (Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Baths of Diocletian), the National Museum of the Early Middle Ages, the Vatican Museums (Museo Gregoriano Profano, Museo Pio Clementino, Museo Gregoriano Egizio, Museo Chiaramonti, Museo Profano, Braccio Nuovo), the Ara Pacis Museum, the Museum of the Imperial Fora at Trajan’s Markets, as well as to the various indoor and outdoor exhibitions that are currently on display across Rome (read the review by BSR Rome Fellow Christopher Siwicki here).

Fig 2

View over the Forum, Palatine, and Capitoline from the Vittoriano’s panoramic terrace.

Fig 3

Investigating the Forum of Caesar and the topography of the Imperial Fora.

Fig 4

The exedra of Marcus Aurelius in the Capitoline Museums.

Fig 5

Walking around brickwork tombs in the necropolis of Portus at Isola Sacra.

Fig 6

Stunning opus sectile decoration from Ostia at the National Museum of the Early Middle Ages.

During many of these site visits the group was accompanied by leading experts, who offered their invaluable insights and fostered a productive discussion with the students: Monica Ceci (Sovrintendenza di Roma Capitale), Francesco Maria Cifarelli (Sovrintendenza di Roma Capitale), Luca Attenni (Museo Archeologico di Lanuvio), Stephen Kay (BSR Archaeology Officer), Letizia Ceccarelli (Politecnico di Milano), Carlo Pavolini (Università della Tuscia), Eleonora Ferrazza (Musei Vaticani), Simonetta Serra (Sovrintendenza di Roma Capitale), Mark Wilson Jones (University of Bath), and Paolo Vitti (University of Notre Dame).

Fig 7

Discussing the Pantheon’s building project with Mark Wilson Jones.

Fig 8

A fascinating tour of Hadrian’s Mausoleum (Castel Sant’Angelo) with Paolo Vitti.

Alongside more traditional locations like the Roman Forum, the Palatine, and the Colosseum valley, the City of Rome group was granted the opportunity to access numerous other sites thanks to the permits issued by the respective authorities. Highlights included: the sacred areas of Sant’Omobono and Largo Argentina, the round Temple of Hercules and Temple of Portunus in the Forum Boarium, the insula of the Aracoeli, the Temple of Veiovis on the Capitoline, the auditorium of Maecenas, the House of the Knights of Rhodes, the Altar of the Fire of Nero on the Quirinal, the Basilica Hilariana on the Caelian, the so-called ‘Casa Bellezza’ on the Aventine, the tomb of the Scipios and the colombarium of Pomponius Hylas on the inner Via Appia, the excubitorium of the vigiles in Trastevere, and the archaeological remains and collection of sculptural antiquities at Villa Wolkonsky.

A recurring theme of this year’s programme was undoubtedly represented by ‘underground’ explorations: the mithraea of the Circus Maximus and of Palazzo Barberini, the compital altar of Via San Martino ai Monti, the temples under San Nicola in Carcere, the nymphaeum of Via degli Annibaldi, the Horologium of Augustus, the excavations under the Lateran basilica, the buildings underneath San Clemente, the Roman houses under Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, the sacred spring of Anna Perenna, the insula of the Vicus Caprarius at Trevi, and, of course, Nero’s Domus Aurea.

Fig 9

Looking at the temples of Largo Argentina and their transformations through time.

Fig 10

Exploring the preserved frescoes in the auditorium of Maecenas.

Fig 11

Down into the mithraeum of the Circus Maximus.

Fig 12

Getting suitably equipped before entering the Domus Aurea.

In addition to the daily site and museum visits, the programme featured a rich series of public lectures which were delivered by international speakers: Eloisa Dodero (Musei Capitolini), Stefano Camporeale (Università di Siena), Paolo Liverani (Università di Firenze), Gabriele Cifani (École normale supérieure, Paris), Frank Sear (University of Melbourne), Nicholas Purcell (University of Oxford), Lynne Lancaster (American Academy in Rome), Ginette Vagenheim (Université de Rouen-Normandie), Christopher Siwicki (BSR;  University of Exeter), and Olivia Elder (BSR; University of Cambridge). The series proved to be a great success among the students and the BSR community of scholars and artists. It was also very well attended by residents of other academies, universities, and institutions in Rome, thus stressing the role played by the BSR in encouraging a stimulating intellectual debate and exchange of ideas with this audience.

Feedback received from the students has confirmed once more the importance and distinctiveness of this programme of study. Among their comments: ‘this was a life-changing experience’, ‘I’ve learned so much and I’m looking forward to putting it into practice’, ‘it was amazing to visit sites that are inaccessible to the public’, ‘my time spent at the BSR on the City of Rome course has been incredible’, ‘I appreciated how interdisciplinary it was’, ‘lectures have been informative, diverse and engaging’. The fact that the course continues to be so popular among our students is due to the enormous efforts of all those who have contributed to its organization, preparation, and development over the years. Indeed, if there is an ambitious plan to pursue, it is the preservation and constant improvement of this course. Ad maiora, City of Rome!

Text and photos by Niccolò Mugnai (BSR Residential Research Fellow)