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).