Drawing in Academic Practice 

Earlier this month award-holders Caroline Barron (Rome Awardee) and Anna Brass (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture) held an experimental drawing workshop for academics who work on material culture. Here they tell us about how the idea for the workshop came about and where they hope to take the project in the future.

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Drawing in Academic Practice workshop, April 2019. Photo: Anna Brass.

Caroline: Anna and I became friends over the course of the winter semester at the BSR; from October to December 2018 I was resident as a Rome Awardee, and Anna was – and continues to be until September this year – the Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture. Although we had chatted over dinner and during various excursions, it wasn’t until Anna and Holly Hendry, the Rome Fellow in Contemporary Art, coordinated the costume effort for the annual Halloween party at the American Academy that we really had a chance to talk in depth.

Anna: Caroline came to my studio in the afternoon of the party – we had to construct her costume quite quickly because it was the last one to do and we didn’t have much time. So, I made her help me paint it. We were working from a picture of a Roman cinerary urn with a fake inscription on her phone, and I did one row of lettering whilst she did another. Caroline was hesitant about painting – she didn’t want to muck it up – but I encouraged her to just look at the letters and paint, and not to worry too much about making it look perfect.

CB: Replicating epigraphic text in what appeared to be a scarily free way was unnerving to begin with; I wanted the letters to be exact representations of those in the stone inscription, but as I started painting I began to relax, and to isolate particular characteristics of the letters that stood out to me. Rather than focusing on proportionally accurate depictions of the letters, I allowed myself to pick up on specific details, and to paint them in an uninhibited way.

AB: Caroline did a top job and the costume was ace. We rolled up to the American Academy looking super cool in our homemade costumes and thoroughly enjoyed the attention from the other guests. After that Caroline and I became firm friends and we went on trips to museums, including to the Capitoline where I made her do some more drawings.

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BSR award-holders at Halloween

CB: The afternoon we spent drawing in the Capitoline Museums remains one of my happiest memories from the BSR. Anna equipped me with a sketchbook and a crayon – not a medium I was particularly familiar with – and directed me to draw various aspects of the objects on display, such as the negative space between two Attic vases, and – my personal favourite – a dog in an Etruscan relief. I found these exercises so much fun, and they helped me to break away from the idea of drawing as something that had to be executed exactly. Anna encouraged me to look at the form of the shapes I was drawing, and to feel the connection between my hand and my eye as I drew them.

Fast forward to April and we’ve just led a drawing workshop at the BSR for academics who work with material culture. The Halloween costume and the Capitoline drawings turned into a discussion about how drawing makes you look at objects, and the differences between the ways that academics and artists approach visual and material culture. The workshop was a real experiment for us, an exploratory exercise that did not have at its base a particular question that we were trying to answer, but rather a trial run at how productive the use of various drawing techniques might be in academic practice.

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Having invited some borsisti, Research Fellows, artists and friends who work on architecture and material culture, the workshop started with a series of warm-up drawings that were designed to immediately increase their confidence. Participants had to draw the person opposite them without looking at their paper, and then again but this time drawing with both hands simultaneously. Next, we drew objects from around the BSR – cups, pot plans, things from Anna’s studio – with the amount of time decreasing from 60 seconds, to 30, 20, 15, and finally 5.

 

Timed drawings

Timed drawings

After the warm-ups came a longer drawing in the cortile; the participants were each given a view of the space to draw. We went from drawing an object in 5 seconds to drawing a complete scene in half an hour, with the focus on using charcoal to think about texture and shadow. There’s very strong light in the cortile, as well as lots of ferns, which make really lovely angular shadows on the pebbles.

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Drawing in the cortile

A favourite exercise of the afternoon was a collaborative drawing session; six images were laid out with six pieces of paper and a range of crayons and charcoals. Each participant had 30 seconds to draw from that image before moving one place to the right to continue work on the next image. The result was a series of drawings in which it was impossible to tell who had made what mark.

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Collaborative drawing

The day ended with a discussion session, in which we talked about how successful the different exercises had been and what the participants had – and had not – found most useful in these new approaches to looking at objects. We then set up a small exhibition, selecting some of our favourite pieces from the day and celebrating the results of the workshop as a whole body of work.

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Exhibition and rinfresco. Photo: Stefania Peterlini.

The workshop was a really interesting experiment for us both; we’ve had lots of ideas about how to take it forward and remain convinced that drawing can, and should, be a vital part of academic questioning about objects and buildings and the forms that they take. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the workshop was the extent to which our brilliant participants were ready to – or in some cases have already – include drawing in their research, which was clear from the confidence and assurance with which they approached some of the exercises. It would be interesting to see how academics working with less obviously ‘drawable’ materials, such as manuscripts or musical scores, might engage with the same exercises too, which has given us food for thought for the next workshop. Drawing in Academic Practice is an ongoing project….expect to hear more from us about it soon!

Caroline Barron & Anna Brass

Press Play

At the end of March Press Play arrived at the BSR. The experimental two-day conference on 28-29 March 2019 (hosted at the BSR and the MACRO-ASILO museum) and exhibition (29 March-12 April) explored the increasingly intimate links between academic research, artistic practice and civic engagement.

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Sarah Culhane and Daniela Treveri Gennari, ‘CineRicordi: Co-creating an  Archive and Documenting Italian Cinema History through Personal Memories  and Artefacts’ (photo: Eleanor Crabtree)

The invitation to press ‘play’ comes from the work of the keynote speaker at the conference, Doris Sommer. With her Cultural Agents project, Sommer explores how creative practices and critical thinking hold an essential civic agency that can drive social change. While this process presents risks that are inherent to such experimentation, after reading about the exemplary cultural agents discussed in Sommer’s The Work of Art in the World (Duke University Press, 2014) it’s hard to resist her invitation to press ‘play’.

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Workshop activity by Malcolm Angelucci, ‘Performance Writing as Creative Intervention’ (photo: Eleanor Crabtree)

The organizers of Press Play, Emma Bond and Derek Duncan (University of St Andrews), brought together participants whose work has developed at the playful overlaps between creative and research practices. Rather than traditional conference papers, critical thinking labs, immersive demonstrations and practical workshops were encouraged.

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Cate Consandine, ‘Directing the Sensate’ (photo: Eleanor Crabtree)

The conference kicked off at the MACRO-ASILO with two workshops run by artists – BSR alumna Catrin Webster and Luci Callipari-Marcuzzo – who each invited participants to use creative forms, drawing and crocheting respectively, as a way of recording their experiences over the two days of the conference. Kim Donaldson also invited participants to colour in designs which, along with the drawings and crochet, were included in the Press Play exhibition alongside the work of the exhibiting artists.

A key contribution on the first day came from Ali Alasan, Abimbola Odugbesan and Jacopo Colombini, who discussed their work with the self-organised refugee group Lampedusa in Hamburg. From the perspective of activists, they highlighted the need to position migrants as knowledge-makers in order to make art that empowers migrants. Current Bridget Riley Fellow Phoebe Boswell also presented her talk ‘On decoloniality’ in which she spoke about this theme from her own autobiographical perspective, leading up to her current explorations since she arrived in Rome. The final session of the first day took the conference back to the BSR where Caroline Smith, author of The Immigration Handbook, was in conversation with her Italian translator Paola Splendore.

The second day started at the MACRO-ASILO with a series of parallel sessions. One of these included BSR Québec Resident Dan Popa. Along with BSR archivist Alessandra Giovenco, Dan presented his idea for a film which combines personal photos of his time in Rome with photos from the unsorted ‘box #9’ from the BSR photographic archives. Before lunch the participants came together for a presentation from one of the exhibiting artists, Justin Randolph Thompson, who spoke about his practice in relation to his experiences of founding Black History Month Florence.

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Alessandra Giovenco and Dan Popa present box #9

The final evening of the conference began with a series of presentations from the other artists exhibiting at Press Play – Katia Kameli and Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen – who spoke about the research processes that had contributed to their work being shown. Finally Doris Sommer gave her keynote address in which she presented a series of exemplary ‘cultural agents’ who, through working at the productive overlap between creative practice and critical thinking, use these as essential tools to provoke civic engagement and social change.

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Doris Sommer gives the conference keynote lecture (photo: Antonio Palmieri)

On Saturday 30 March, after a walking tour of the area around the BSR with artist-academic, Kinga Araya, conference participants had the chance to undertake a guided tour of the Museo dell’Altro e dell’Altrove di Metropoliz (MAAM). The museum materialises some of the key themes and aspirations discussed over the two days of the conference, particularly the vital role of the artist and the admiration of art to provoke civic engagement and social change.

The accompanying Press Play exhibition continued at the BSR for the two weeks following the conference.

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Justin Randolph Thompson performs outside the BSR on the opening night of the exhibition. (Photos: Anotnio Palmieri)

The organizers would like to thank all the presenters and participants, members of the steering committee (Malcolm Angelucci, Catherine Boyle, Shelleen Greene and Siobhán Shilton), curator Silvia Litardi, and our generous funders. Thank you also to Gianluca Fiorentini for his tour of the MAAM.

https://pressplay2019.wordpress.com

Twitter: @PressPlay2019

 

Eleanor Crabtree (Press Play postgraduate assistant; BSR Pilkington Rome Awardee (funded by the Roger and Ingrid Pilkington Charitable Trust))

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sainsbury Scholar Anna Brass at ‘Una Vetrina’

On Thursday 11 April Sainsbury Scholar Anna Brass’ work Riddled was inaugurated at Una Vetrina in Via del Consolato, Rome.

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BSR Fine Arts Adviser Marta Pellerini explains the concept of Una Vetrina, ‘Founded in 2013 by curators Giuseppe Garrera, Gianni Garrera and gallerist Carlo Pratis, Una Vetrina is an ongoing art project inside a window overlooking a tiny street in the city centre.

‘Artworks and contributions by artists, poets, philosophers are displayed inside the vetrina day and night, for the attention – or indifference – of the casual passer-by. The installation changes every week, unannounced, and without aspiring to a specific devoted audience.

‘Rapidity and uncertainty are central to the concept of Una Vetrina, a ‘no-stop’ project consuming words and images’.

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Anna says, ‘I often make costumes for my films, but for Una Vetrina I wanted to make a costume that was useless, one that couldn’t be worn. Riddled is a carpet made with a tufting gun; it’s an image of a theatrical costume hung up on a wall: a harlequin pelt, bloodied and full of holes.

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A preliminary drawing for Riddled by Anna Brass

‘The starting point came from the images of commedia dell’arte characters in Dionisio Minaggio’s Feather Book, which was made in Italy in the early 17th century. One of the characters is Bagatino, who is a version of the harlequin. In Minaggio’s book Bagatino’s costume has polka dots or patches of colour, but in Riddled they’ve become holes and wounds. Whilst I was making the carpet I was thinking about politicians who cultivate an image of buffoonery, and how this can veil something violent’.

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Anna’s work will be on display until Thursday 18 April.

A lecture by BSR Assistant Directors: a legacy and trajectory of interdisciplinarity at the BSR

Earlier this month BSR Assistant Directors Peter Campbell, Martina Caruso and Harriet O’Neill gave a lecture in London at the British Academy examining the origins of the British School at Rome and the pathway forward into the BSR’s twelfth decade.

1911.PNGHarriet O’Neill, Assistant Director for the Humanities and Social Sciences: I wanted to use my section to think about why the BSR was conceived as an interdisciplinary institution and how this aspiration worked in practice. In researching this I discovered that the key moment was the move to what had been the British Pavilion at the International Fine Arts Exhibition held in 1911. This is known but what surprised me was the level of BSR involvement in the exhibition itself, particularly the archaeological and ‘historical’ parts of the show which were held elsewhere in Rome.

Martina Caruso, Assistant Director for Art, Architecture and the Creative Industries: For my section of the lecture I presented the latest interdisciplinary work that the artists and scholars undertook together as part of a reflection on Brexit and the wider political climate. The workshop resulted in a series of printed flags for the March Mostra which were hoisted on the rooftop during the opening of the exhibition.

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In terms of my personal research I’ve been exploring photography by women archaeologists who were working in the Mediterranean at the turn of the last century, a time when the so-called historical sciences like geology, palaeontology and archaeology were gathering momentum but were still very much a man’s world. Among these women I’ve been examining Agnes and Dora Bulwer’s photographs, which are conserved at the BSR archives, and the way in which they adopted the survey style on archaeological field trips while often deviating from that style to photograph the environment, their travelling companions and the people they met. I’m interested in tracing the lives of these women through the photographs they took, since very little is known about them from other sources.

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From the Bulwer collection, courtesy of the BSR Photographic Archives

Peter Campbell, Assistant Director for Archaeology and Archaeological Science: For my section of the lecture, I examined the BSR’s archaeological development from horse-drawn carts to drones. Since 1901 the BSR has been an innovator and early adopter of new methods, from Thomas Ashby’s photography to today’s geophysics. I concluded my time by discussing the future trajectories of the BSR and how our new research strategies will prepare for the next century.

Alumni, Members and friends at the reception following the lecture

Watch the video of the lecture below:

Meet the Artists… Anna Brass / March Mostra 2019

As part of our March Mostra Meet the Artists series, we spoke to Anna Brass
(Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture) about Brexit, a fourteenth-century Diabolical Englishman, and mortadella…

Can you explain your process of working?

I make films, drawings, paintings and sculptures. The films always emerge from an intensive process of making, so at the moment I’m making a film but I’m working out all of my ideas through sculpture and drawing.

I look at a lot of images, which is what feeds everything I make. There’s so much to see in Rome – all of the mosaics and frescos and buildings, but also things on the street, like drawings on walls, shop signs, potholes. Seeing these things has generated a lot of work -I’ve made a big slice of mortadella, some Byzantine feet, a palazzo carpet…

Studio

Can you tell us a bit more about what you’ve been working on?

I’m making a film about a fourteenth-century English mercenary called John Hawkwood, who was born in Essex in 1320. He spent a lot of time as a soldier in France and when he was about 40 he came to Italy, and he spent the rest of his life there working as a condottiere. There’s a fresco painting of him by Paolo Uccello in the cathedral in Florence, which I saw a few years ago. And I read a book about him by Frances Stonor Saunders called Diabolical Englishman, which is a really visual and beautifully written book, and reading it generated so many images in my head.

The film I’m making now isn’t about Hawkwood the man, it’s not about his character or biography at all, I’m not really interested in that. I’m interested in what was happening around him – the swirl of violence and money and religious belief. I think Hawkwood will just be this elusive, shape-shifting figure in the midst of everything.

What are you going to show in March Mostra?

I’m going to show some of the sculptures I’ve made, which relate to the strange spaces in early Renaissance paintings. I’m really keen on predella panels, which are sometimes at the bottom of paintings and show scenes from the life of a saint, often in quite strange architectural spaces or structures. I like the shifting scale between people and buildings and rocks.

Beeto (detail)

Can you tell me about the Brexit project you have been working on?

Yes – Dillwyn [Smith, Abbey Fellow in Painting] and I have been making plans for this Brexit project. We have made flags that we are flying on the BSR flagpoles, and we did a Brexit workshop that was open to people from the BSR and from other institutions. We made lots of salt dough and asked people to make objects in relation to Brexit, trying to give a body to quite abstract concepts. They made things like a full English Brexit, a Maybot, lots of pigs – all of these emblems of Brexit made of salt dough.

And what about the post-it notes that were part of the workshop?

Yeah, these were written soundbites, which aren’t in the mostra but they’re the lynchpin of everything. The whole project revolves around these bizarre soundbites from the news on Radio 4, which we listen to in the studio. It’s not about a single Brexit phrase it’s about the tidal wave of Brexit chatter and how overwhelming it is, and how impenetrable, the manic talking around it and no traction. I don’t think the project is about being for or against Brexit, it’s just a tornado of mania, as felt from quite far away – still being in Europe but being relatively far away from home.

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The workshop turned out quite differently to what we had planned because we hadn’t taken into account the language and culture barrier with friends from other academies. I was really struggling to explain what the phrases meant, like the Danny Dyer line ‘in Nice with his trotters up’, and to explain the recurring motifs like pigs and pig-gate, and robots.

Also, just seeing my mortadella sculpture, there is a theme of meat, and pigs, and ham in my work, which I think is being amplified by David Cameron and Brexit.

How does this all relate back to your Hawkwood film?

For me there is this link between contemporary politics and meat. There’s pig-gate and the bacon sandwich, but also climate change, horse meat and the posh burger. Italian meat is quite different to English meat. I’m a vegetarian, but the meat shops in Italy are really beautiful, and the mortadella in particular is beautiful as well as being slightly gross.

There was a popular rebellion in Florence in 1378 called the Ciompi revolt, which was crushed in-part by the guild of butchers. I want to somehow include this in my film, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what the emblems of the guild of butchers might look like and how I might make them.

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Anna’s work is currently being exhibited alongside the six other resident artists in March Mostra. Opening hours 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 23 March 2019..

Interview by Natalie Arrowsmith (Communications Manager). Photos courtesy of the artist.

Meet the Artists… Dan Popa / March Mostra 2019

As part of our March Mostra Meet the Artists series, we spoke to Dan Popa
(Québec Resident) about taking a break from film and going back to analogue photography.

You’re a filmmaker but during this residency you are focusing mostly on photography. Is this a prelude to a new film to develop in the future?

The decision came naturally. I brought my photography camera because first of all the equipment is lighter, but I can still use motion picture film. Just from a practical standpoint it’s also a way for me to sketch during my residency. I knew I wasn’t going to make necessarily a body of work, but I knew I wanted to keep sketching.

As I went along and developed the contact sheets, which basically map out your entire roll of film on a piece of paper, sticking them together I really start seeing a narrative or a potential film that could happen from these stills. I’ve worked before where I’ve used still photography in filming so with adding sound and keeping timing in you’re able to make a film just made out of stills. The more I look at it the more I think the outcome will be perhaps a film just because I’ve amassed a lot of things, a lot of really interesting moments, and a lot of moments where I was able to go back and forth to the same locations and re-photograph what I was missing.

Just before coming here I had recently finished a film that had taken me four years to finish, with the last year editing on a computer. I really felt like I wanted to like keep film maybe a little bit off for like two seconds and just start looking again.

What are you showing at the mostra?

What I’m showing at the mostra is something I don’t usually do, but I’d like to use some of this photography perhaps for a film but also as a standalone book because a book does offer a linear narrative, you just take away the sound and take away the amount of time that each image is displayed for – because that’s what film is, it’s saying there’s an in and out point, seven seconds to watch this, two seconds to watch this… so for the mostra I’ve been printing out a couple of pictures and putting them side by side and seeing how they have a correlation and how they could exist both in a film format, but also in a printed book format.

So it almost starts off as an experimental film, there might be some text, there might not be some text, but for now I just wanted to keep it with the visuals, so it starts off with two nuns by the beach, sort of photographing it and then life in the sun… I’ve really been looking a lot at light in Rome, especially the winter light which I’ve been really interested in… this lovely family visiting Pompeii in a virtual reality world, and from there I’m kind of questioning what is their dream…

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I’m going to display them laid out on the table…they’re very fragile so I don’t want people to touch them too much because they are maquettes in a sense. Also laying them out like this gives the notion that the work is still on the table, a work in progress, it’s not ready yet for putting up.

Some of them I’ve got printed by master printers here in the neighbourhood, printed directly from 35 mm negatives. They are a second generation printers so they really have a different skill.

What do you prefer as subjects? Here in Rome for example do you prefer photographing people, or architecture and archaeology?

I did come with the idea of doing something more about the architecture aspects but then I always try to think what does the place dictate for me as well. People are very present, even people who are motionless, so yes I am interested a lot in faces but also in textures, the way light falls on Rome, so it’s really day in day out as I started getting these images and then when you start putting them together for me that it starts having a bit of a narrative.

This for example is the warehouse where they keep all the props for Cinecittà, but then I photographed the ones in Pompeii and they looked faker than the fake ones. So there’s always this play a little bit around the real and the staged and how the real can look less real than the fake.

Dan3When I arrived here I started filming the last day of Christmas, so the procession and the parade near the Vatican. I’ll be showing a short film I’ve made from that and right now I’m doing the sound mix and the final touches for it, so I think that’s what I’ll be showing at the mostra.

You came across the book Rome + Klein in the BSR Library, a photobook by William Klein. Are your photobooks a response to that?

Klein came here exactly 60 years ago to work on a Fellini film which was very much delayed so he actually spent three months photographing Rome. He photographed sets, and he also had a couple of fashion gigs that he included as well, so it’s a bit of a journal, a bit of an itinerary. He talks about this intensity of photographing in such a short amount of time and I’ve kind of used him as my spiritual guide, knowing that I too only have three months. So I’m not trying to replicate, I don’t assume to be at the level of William Klein’s work. I’m just trying to see how something could be revisited 60 years later.

Is any of Rome going to come into your Le Corbusier film?

Rome comes into it very little. I went back to some of the places that Le Corbusier visited. Oddly enough his first day in Rome ever was in 1911 and he spent time at the Villa Giulia sketching pictures, and that was as they were building the British School at Rome which is right across from there, so it was cool to find that connection.

And what about the photographs you have been taking of BSR life?

So in parallel I’ve been photographing BSR residents and then some of the visits like when we went to Pompeii, and when we went to the Lateran, and then Alessandra Giovenco, the archivist, allowed me to see some of the BSR archives, and it really is important to keep stuff documented, print a few things, and leave some stuff in the archives, because if I’m able to pick up a photo from say 1911 today, it’s because someone went to the effort of doing that. So at some point I would like to print some of these pictures and put them in a box for the BSR because I think you don’t realise the importance of an archive until it’s too late. And that’s the part of photography that’s really fantastic too, is seeing how it ages with time.

 

Dan’s work will be exhibited alongside the six other resident artists in March Mostra, opening Friday 15 March 18.30-21.00. Opening hours 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 23 March 2019, closed Sundays.

Interview by Natalie Arrowsmith (Communications Manager). Photos courtesy of the artist.

 

Meet the Artists… Lucy Meyle / March Mostra 2019

Ahead of the March Mostra, for the first in our Meet the Artists series we spoke to Lucy Meyle (BSR Wallace New Zealand Residence Award) about her interest in plants and non-human animals, and how dialogues of fashion, wearability, space and luxury come into her work.

What has been your project in Rome and how much have you deviated from your original ideas?

I came with a project based around the idea of syntax. I wanted to think about small rearrangements within language that might have larger effects on meaning, and how that relates to the configuration or ordering of images/installations/sculptures both conceptually and materially. But I think I always knew that once I arrived in Rome, I was comfortable to essentially throw away the plan, though I think the core of my interest in slight alterations or slight irritants does remain.

I’ve actually been surprised how strongly connected the project has become to fashion and to the connected dialogues around wearability, space, and luxury. Partially this is because there’s a really pragmatic thing about being able to fold sculptures down and take them home. But even this brings up questions to me about rescinded spaces, flexible spaces, or treacherous spaces. I’ve been interested in connecting these kinds of notions to how we think about plants and non-human animals.

Where does your interest in animals stem from?

I grew up with animals around, so it’s been a very ‘ordinary’ feeling thing throughout my whole life. A friend of mine who didn’t have any pets growing up once asked me whether he needed to formally greet my family’s cat when he arrived at our house. It struck me then as such an alien way to consider the animal-human relationship, but now it still sticks in my memory as a perfect moment of re-syntaxation – a re-ordering of the usual way I had thought of doing something so as to make it strange anew. I have been quite interested in care and support and the extension of those actions into sculpture and installation, but more recently plants and non-human animals have come into my work as a way to more directly engage with my sadness and anxiety about ecological issues and climate change.

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Snail ramp demonstration video (2018)
Still from video featuring garden snails, duration: 09:48

How would you qualify your philosophical or political position? Do you feel close to post-humanism?

I think it’s really tangled up for me. I’m wary of aligning it with any particular movement of philosophy, particularly something which envisages itself as being ‘beyond’ something, so I feel quite invested in the idea of being entangled with other beings, other things, other kinds of timescapes. What does that mean in terms of an ethical commitment to acting in the now? In terms of political/philosophical theorists I enjoy reading Sara Ahmed, Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, and would say that they have deeply affected the way I consider making works, either as a single artist or within a collaboration, or within a community.

Lucy Peanut Table

Shell inlay table and chair set (with peanuts #1-586) (detail) (2018)
Plywood, peanuts, scrap melamine, pencil, H:750 L:2200 W:1150 

What in particular has fed into your work during your residency?

It has been an exercise in layering, I suppose. Seeing things out on the street is very important for me, being outside and noticing certain things. Like the Vespa covers that everybody has where you put your hands inside it when it’s raining. It’s like both a cover for a scooter, and also something to keep the rain off your hands. Often they’re too big or the wrong shape for the particular motor scooter and they’re slipping off or bunching up. And things like people putting plastic bags around their plants to keep them warm over winter on their patios, or the very swagged curtains that are in the windows of hotels and restaurants, or the plush animals people stuff into their car gloveboxes.

Also seeing Pino Pascali sculptures for the first time, researching fashion or fashion-adjacent practitioners Elsa Schiaparelli, Elsa Peretti, and Cinzia Ruggeri, as well as glass artists Ercole Barovier and Fulvio Bianconi.

And then talking with people like Rodney [Cross, Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar] who’s doing work around conceptions and descriptions of animal sounds in ancient texts and having to interpret what that means back into how we think about those animals, how they thought about those animals, and what are the crossovers. So drawing together those things, it becomes a constellation of images, texts, moments, that I then draw together materially.

You are interested in the concept of translation – how has it been for you living in a different country where English isn’t the dominant language?

I was reading this text by Walter Benjamin called The Task of the Translator, and in it he talks about the original as being like a fruit in its skin, and then once you translate something the form becomes big and heavy like a robe, it kind of envelops original meaning. I like this idea of a baggy idea, there being both freedom of movement but also something that can trip you up really easily. And I think that comes into it too, the idea of the really ‘baggy’ word that doesn’t translate well. The obvious word to me is ‘prego’ where I have absolutely no idea what it means… yet somehow I know what it means. It’s this totally amorphous word, that no matter how many times I hear it, or look it up on Google ‘what does prego mean’ I don’t have any solid concept. It is still very squishy. That is the best place, for me. Where even though you’ve managed to touch around the edges of something, you have nothing solid – surprise remains likely.

Lucy Studio 2019

Studio table at the BSR, 2019

Can you tell us about what you are showing in March Mostra?

I’ve made a series of wearable things based on this idea of bagginess, when something spacious can take a turn. For example, you can buy special gloves to put on tights so that you don’t make runs with your fingernails — they’re very loose generally because you’re trying not to pierce anything, but they almost seem like they would be more difficult to do anything with. It seems like you might become clumsier or it would become more difficult to put on the tights wearing these gloves than it would be just to put on the tights. So that’s my starting point, things that perhaps feel nice, feel luxurious, but can slip into a different register. There is also a one-page publication with a series of short texts, which is free to take away.

Lucy’s work will be exhibited alongside the six other resident artists in March Mostra, opening Friday 15 March 18.30-21.00. Opening hours 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 23 March 2019, closed Sundays.

Interview by Natalie Arrowsmith (Communications Manager). Photos courtesy of the artist.