December Mostra 2017 / Meet the artists… Patrick O’Keeffe

As we approach the December Mostra, our first exhibition of this academic year, we will be publishing a series of blogs taking a closer look at the individual practices of our seven resident artists and resident architectural fellow. The first to be interviewed is Patrick O’Keeffe (Kent), our 2017-18 Giles Worsley Rome Fellow.

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Photo: Antonio Palmieri

Patrick’s BSR project ‘Hearing spaces’ — is focused on an exploration of the use of harmony and dissonance within classical architecture in Rome, expressed and interpreted through music.

What are your plans for your residency at the BSR?

While resident here at the BSR I have been working on two projects. Although these projects are different in approach, they both look at finding alternative ways of understanding well-known architectural phenomena.

My first proposal looks at the original Renaissance proportional systems from Pythagorean/Platonic musical harmony – the project looks to create hybrid architectural/musical models, aiming to provide the opportunity for people to physically hear the proportional relationships within Renaissance architecture; in this case the Tempietto del Bramante.

The second proposal has developed during my fellowship and seeks to use eye-tracking software as a way of investigating and displaying the ways people perceive and interact with a space; it will track and compare the eye movements of individuals from different disciplines and within different Baroque spaces, focusing on Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane.

What are you looking at in Rome in particular?

Each proposal will investigate a number of spaces but centre around a well-known architectural archetype from their respective period. I hope that by looking at them in a new way I will be able to provide a multi-sensory analysis of these iconic monuments.

At the Tempietto at San Pietro in Montorio, I aim to produce a cast model of the building with musical strings running along the prominent dimensions. When plucked, these will produce sounds directly correlating to the spatial ‘harmony’ within the building. Musical harmony is something I think most people can intuitively perceive, so translating a building composed on the same principles into this medium will hopefully offer an alternative interpretation.

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Tempietto di San Pietro in Montorio (Photo: Patrick O’Keeffe)

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3D printing in action (Photo: Patrick O’Keeffe)

At San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane – I have made a pair of eye-tracking goggles which allow me to track the specific route a person’s eyes follow within the space. By comparing results from people of different disciplines and within different buildings, I aim to start a dialogue about the ways in which we understand space; the results will be displayed with both images and physical models.

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Testing the eye-tracking goggles (Photo: Patrick O’Keeffe)

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Following the route of a person’s eyes within the space (Photo: Patrick O’Keeffe)

How have you found working alongside artists and scholars?

The environment at the BSR is unique. The nightly dinners have given me an amazing opportunity to discuss, share and develop my ideas in the ‘melting pot’ of ideas that is the BSR community. Without this, I am sure my second project would not have developed in the way that it has.

 


Patrick’s work will be exhibited alongside the seven other resident artists in the December Mostra. The opening will take place on Friday 15 December 18.30-21.00. Opening hours 16.30-19.00 until Saturday 23 December 2017, closed Sundays.

Interview conducted by Alice Marsh (Communications & Events)

 

 

 

 

 

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BSR at BMTA 2017

This year the annual Borsa Mediterranea del Turismo Archeologico (http://www.borsaturismoarcheologico.it/en/) celebrated its 20th anniversary. Hosted in the wonderful surroundings of the Parco Archeologico di Paestum , the annual fair brings together leaders in cultural heritage, tourism, politics, education, publishing and archaeology.

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Video mapping onto the façade of the Temple of Neptune (Photo: Stephen Kay)

Against the backdrop of the stunning 5th century BC Tomb of the Diver,  this year the BMTA also honoured the family of Khaled al-Asaad, the Syrian archaeologist and the head of antiquities for the ancient city of Palmyra who was killed in 2015 for his protection of the site.

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5th century BC Tomb of the Diver (Photo: Stephen Kay)

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BMTA honour the family of Khaled al-Asaad (Photo: Stephen Kay)

Together with 120 exhibitors from 30 different countries, the event also hosts a series of ‘Archeo Incontri’, an opportunity for the public to engage with archaeologists and hear about new research projects underway around the Mediterranean.

For several years the BSR has participated in the event under the umbrella of AIAC (Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica) and the Unione Internazionale degli Istituti di Archeologia, Storia e Storia dell’ Arte in Roma. This year the institutes offered a glimpse into the work of the archaeologist in the digital era. The session, moderated by Kristian Göransson (AIAC President and Director of the Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome), saw the participation this year of four speakers, Eeva-Maria Viitanen (Institutum Romanum Finlandia), Ségolène Maudet (École Française de Rome), Olof Brandt (Pontifico Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana) and our own Archaeology Officer Stephen Kay.

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The BSR’s Stephen Kay, participates in the panel discussion (Photo: Elena Pomar)

The University of Southampton and the BSR have been leading exponents of the application of digital technologies in archaeology, whether through geophysics, recording techniques or 3D modelling. At the same time as Simon Keay’s keynote lecture at the Being Human festival in Rome (see last week’s blog by BSR Research Fellow Peter Campbell), Stephen was able to show how through a combination of digital technologies in the field, the Portus Project has been able to reconstruct individual buildings and the landscape of Rome’s Imperial port.

Stephen Kay (Archaeological Officer)

Being Human at the BSR

We asked BSR Research Fellow Peter Campbell to look back on last week’s workshop Lost and Found (part of the festival of humanities Being Human) from his perspective as a researcher in the study of antiquities trafficking networks.

On Friday 27 October, the British School at Rome hosted Lost and Found: Places, Objects and People, a workshop that is part of the Being Human Festival. The workshop brought together experts from various backgrounds to discuss cultural preservation. Looting of ancient sites has recently been in the international spotlight following actions by Islamic State, but trafficking of antiquities has been a significant problem for many decades.

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Cultural heritage is a central component of what it means to be human, so the workshop subject is important to the festival. This is a sentiment expressed by Professor Sarah Churchwell and BSR Director Professor Stephen J. Milner to commence the meeting. Being Human is led by Sarah at the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. The BSR and Being Human are in a unique position to bring together international experts and discuss topics such as this.

Archaeological sites are being looted and destroyed on a large scale across the world, but how do we quantify and mitigate the loss when we do not know the full extent of the cultural resources? This is what Dr Robert Bewley (University of Oxford) discussed in his talk about the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project. Using aerial photography, Robert’s team has been able to identify archaeological sites and revisit them years later, documenting changes to the sites. This is invaluable to those studying looting, as operating on such a large-scale is quite difficult. Over the years Robert has noted a number of different threats to archaeological sites. One of the foremost is the increase in populations, which leads to increased development and infrastructure which cuts through sites. New forms of agriculture and mining have also leveled sites that the team had identified in previous years. Of course, conflict is also a significant threat, such as Islamic State. In one example, Robert discussed how Islamic State may have blown up monuments in order to cover up looting of friezes that were trafficked out of the region for sale on the black market.

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Robert Bewley discusses the use of aerial photography in documenting changes to archaeological sites.

Mosaics are one of the most beautiful forms of ancient art, but also one of the most delicate. Dr Roberto Nardi (Centro di Conservazione Archeologica, Roma) gave a masterful presentation on how mosaics are under threat from conflict and looting, but also poor conservation practices in the past, as well as archaeologists who do not know how to properly preserve mosaics in situ. Roberto has organized a training programme for conservators working in North Africa and the Middle East, named MOSAIKON and funded by the Getty Foundation. In his presentation, as well as in videos made by the conservation students, he showed how the program develops independence, construction of locate labs, and interventions to save mosaics. These interventions were needed not only in North Africa and the Middle East, but in Italy as well.

Dr Anna Leone (Durham University) and Morgan Belzic (École Pratique des Hautes Études) presented their recent work conducting training in North Africa, along with coauthors Dr Corisande Fenwick (UCL) and Dr William Wootton (KCL), who were not in attendance. The presentation was wide-ranging, but the training programs appear to have substantial deliverables. The team has created an app called HeDAP (Heritage Documentation and Protection) that uses photo identification algorithms to make a searchable database for identifying looted artifacts. It is currently being trialed in North Africa, but they hope it will soon be available for broader regions and law enforcement. They raised excellent points about data and storage. What happens during periods of conflict? Who has access to the databases? In one example, museum workers had to build false walls to hide artifacts from Islamic State. There are no good solutions, which led to a substantial discussion. It made me think about the Archaeological Data Service, which hosts a server storing open data, or the use of blockchain technology, which is a decentralized network so that data cannot be corrupted or lost. Perhaps a system where the data is stored across a network, but only accessible to certain individuals would preserve data for the long term. Solutions need to be found in order to protect antiquities and sites in conflict regions.

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Gianluigi D’Alfonso of the Guardia di Finanza on how art and antiquities are used by criminal groups for laundering and profit.

Rarely does the public hear about the law enforcement side of trafficking, which made the presentation by Generale Gianluigi D’Alfonso (Comandante della Guardia di Finanza) particularly interesting. He discussed how art and antiquities are used by criminal groups for laundering and profit. The Generale had several cases where criminal organizations had purchased works of art specifically for laundering, fencing and tax evasion. One of the most gripping examples was a group of Vincent van Gogh paintings that were recently confiscated and returned to a museum setting. The presentation raised a number of questions about how we think about antiquities in the hands of criminals. What percentage of their illegal art is collection and what percentage is laundering? Or perhaps there is no clear distinction.

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Simon Keay on public engagement at Portus

Professor Simon Keay (University of Southampton; BSR) concluded the workshop’s archaeology presentations with an overview of the Portus Project and the new means of collecting and presenting archeological data. The site of Portus is of such a large-scale that many years of research have been required to understand the ancient imperial harbour. Of particular interest, Simon discussed how the site is being presented to the public. Located near Fiumicino Airport, Portus is being advertised to travelers as an easy side trip. The number of visitors has increased each year, showing that this forgotten gem is finally receiving the attention it deserves. Even people who are not in Rome can visit Portus through the online platforms that the project uses, such as an online course and web tour.

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HMA Jill Morris with Paul Sellers (Director, British Council Italy) and Sarah Churchwell (Director of the Being Human Festival, and Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London)

The workshop ended with a viewing of the British Council film Desti\Nations. It is a fascinating short piece that discusses migration and movement within the modern world. The film was introduced by British Ambassador Jill Morris, who spoke on the intertwined nature of Britain, Europe, and the Mediterranean world. Jill and the film told of shared cultures, with the film telling of a family with North African and Italian background, as well as the members’ migrations to and from locations around the world. [BSR Director] Stephen concluded the workshop with the observation that not only does modern Europe face these migration, but Medieval Italy did as well. Much like the flow of cultures in the ancient world, modern migrations take place for many reasons such as conflict, employment, and family. The film was a terrific conclusion to the Being Human workshop, which left the audience with much to consider.

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L to R: Stephen Milner, Sarah Churchwell, Anna Leone, Robert Bewley, HMA Jill Morris, Simon Keay, Roberto Nardi, Paul Sellers.

Peter Campbell (BSR Research Fellow)

Photos by Antonio Palmieri.

In the footsteps of Ashby

On Saturday 21 October 2017 the Museo Archeologico Comune di Segni hosted the inauguration of an exhibition of a series of drawings by Edward Dodwell (from Sir John Soane’s Museum) and photographs from the BSR Archives taken by Thomas Ashby and Father Peter Paul Mackey.

In the late 19th century Father Peter Paul Mackey visited the small town of Segni, 50km south of Rome and a day’s walk from Palestrina where he was probably based for his weekend photographic excursions. He was drawn to the city by its enormous ‘Cyclopic’ walls hewn from the limestone mountain and the well preserved Roman temple of Juno Moneta.

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Segni, postern under citadel (with figure). Photo courtesy of the BSR Archives, Peter Paul Mackey Collection.

A few years later, undoubtedly inspired by one of Mackey’s lectures at the British and American Archaeological Society of Rome, Thomas Ashby, director of the BSR between 1906 and 1925, also visited the town to photograph its magnificent walls and gateways.

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Segni, city wall and Porta dello Steccato. Photo courtesy of the BSR Archives, Thomas Ashby Collection.

In 2012 the BSR began the Segni Project together with the town archaeological museum which over the past five years has conducted a series of excavations as well as hosted conferences, workshops, exhibitions and the ongoing project for the recovery of a monumental nymphaeum.

It is therefore with great pleasure that the BSR is supporting an exhibition of Mackey’s and Ashby’s photographs on display at the Museo Archeologico di Segni.

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Photographs from the BSR Archives on display at the exhibition (Photos: Stephen Kay)

Inaugurated on the occasion of the annual ‘Sagra del Marrone’, the evening saw a large number of visitors to the museum following a presentation of the accompanying catalogue by Dott. Enrico Benelli (CNR-ISMA). It was also an opportunity for the new director Professor Stephen Milner and his family to visit one of the sites of ongoing BSR archaeological research. The success of the exhibition owes much to the work of the BSR’s archivist Alessandra Giovenco and that of the librarians, so it was wonderful that BSR Librarian Valerie Scott and Beatrice Gelosia were also present for the occasion.

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Stephen Milner gives an introductory presentation (Photo: Stephen Kay)

The exhibition at the Museo Archeologico di Segni will continue through until the end of the year. For more details see www.museosegni.it The BSR is grateful for the continued support of the Comune di Segni and its mayor Prof.ssa Maria Assunta Bocardelli, as well as the director of the Museo Archeologico di Segni Dott.ssa Federica Colaiacomo and the previous museum director and BSR Research Fellow Dott. Francesco Maria Cifarelli. The project is extremely grateful to Mr and Mrs Denny Custer who have generously supported the work of the BSR Archaeological Officer over the past years and made possible the scanning and reproduction of the photographs of Segni by Thomas Ashby.

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Team BSR enjoying the ‘Sagra del Marrone’ (Photo: Stephen Milner)

Stephen Kay (Archaeological Officer)

Benvenuti to our 2017-18 award-holders

2017-18 October award-holders

2017-18 October award-holders. Photo by Antonio Palmieri.

Our October award-holders for 2017-18 arrived just last week, and it was great for staff and residents to hear about their projects for their residencies during our welcome week introductory talks. A full list of this year’s award-holders is on our website.

In our October cohort we are pleased to have been able to offer three new residencies.  Loek Luiten is our Judith Maitland Memorial Awardee whose research looks at the Farnese dynasty and power in Saint Peter’s patrimony; on the Fine Arts side we have James Epps who is our Augusta Scholar; and last but not least Pele Cox, our John Murray / Keats-Shelley Memorial Association Creative Writing Resident.

Pele is the BSR’s first resident in creative writing and as part of her introductory talk we were treated to a reading of a poem she had written in response to being awarded her residency at the BSR. Earlier this week she introduced many residents to the Keats Shelley Memorial House — not far from the BSR in Piazza di Spagna — where Julian Sands was giving a poetry reading.

A trip to the Roman Forum has been a staple of welcome week activities in the past few years, and this year the mantle passed from former BSR Director Christopher Smith to BSR Cary Fellow Robert Coates-Stephens. Taking in some sites on the way, the group profited from Assistant Director Tom True’s worldly wisdom in the Campo Marzio.

For those of you in Rome, keep your diaries free on 29 and 30 November when our current senior award-holders Clare Robertson and Philippa Jackson will be giving their lectures on ‘Federico Zuccaro and his intellectual circle’ and ‘Raphael and Sienese circles’ respectively.

And on Friday 15 December we have the opening of December Mostra, an exhibition of works by current Fine Arts award-holders.

There’s a lot to look forward to, and the full list of events we will be holding here in Rome is on our website: http://www.bsr.ac.uk/news/italy-events.


Photos by Antonio Palmieri (2017-18 award-holders) and Alice Marsh (Forum and Campo Marzio)

 

An interview with our Archive interns

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Cristina Iannaccone and Simona Giordano at the BSR

The 2016-17 academic year has seen an incredible fervor of activity in the BSR Archives, ranging from hosting students from Sapienza – Università di Roma to carrying out physical and intellectual work on some important sections of the BSR Administrative Archive. We are delighted to have formalised a collaboration with Sapienza – Università di Roma, who are sending us enthusiastic students to work at the BSR for a period as interns. We have also supported the work of a student from Università Cà Foscari in Venice, thanks to the invaluable input of Professor Paul G. Weston, newly-appointed member of our Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters. Archivists require both technical and historical knowledge and I know that the BSR is the right place for these skills to be put into practice!

Alessandra Giovenco (BSR Archivist)

We interviewed two recent Archive interns, Cristina and Simona, to find out what they have been up to.

Cristina Iannaccone

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Where and what are you currently studying?

I am studying for my MA in History and Library/Archive Management at the Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia in collaboration with the Università di Padova. The course is designed for those who wish to become archivists and librarians, developing specialist skills in the treatment of material conserved in archives and libraries (whether they be historical or contemporary, public or private).

Sono iscritta al corso di Laurea magistrale in Storia e gestione del patrimonio archivistico e bibliografico presso l’Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia, attivato in convenzione con l’Università di Padova. Esso forma archivisti e bibliotecari fornendo competenze specialistiche nella trattazione dei materiali conservati presso archivi e biblioteche, siano essi storici o contemporanei, pubblici o privati.

What are you working on at the BSR?

As part of my university training I started an internship at the BSR Archive in March 2017. I have worked on the reconditioning and inventorying of administrative records pertaining to a particular set of awards, ‘Grants in Aid of Research’. This work required me to consult the Reports of the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters.

Nel mese di marzo 2017 ho intrapreso il tirocinio curriculare presso l’Archivio dell’Accademia britannica. Ho portato avanti un lavoro di ricondizionamento e inventariazione di scatole contenenti fascicoli dell’archivio amministrativo, relativi ad una delle Borse di studio assegnate ai ricercatori dalla British School at Rome: i Grants in Aid of Research. Per le informazioni necessarie allo svolgimento del lavoro sono stati consultati i Reports della Faculty of Archeology, History and Letters.

What have you learnt from your experience at the BSR?

I believe that professional experience is essential for anyone wanting to become an archivist or librarian. My internship at the BSR was extremely useful and formative; I learnt so much through this hands-on experience which cannot be gained through university study alone. Furthermore, working with the Library and Archive staff at the BSR has shown me the importance of carrying out your work with passion and tenacity.

Ritengo che per la formazione di archivisti e bibliotecari un periodo di esperienza professionale guidata sia imprescindibile. Il mio tirocinio presso la BSR è stato proficuo e altamente formativo; ho imparato tanto attraverso un approccio pratico di cui difettavano in parte i miei studi universitari. Inoltre, ho appreso dai professionisti che hanno guidato la mia esperienza l’importanza di portare avanti il proprio lavoro con passione e tenacia.

What are your plans for the future?

This internship has affirmed my desire to work in an environment like the BSR that allows me to combine the roles of archivist and researcher. Having said this, I am not dismissing the possibility of carrying out further training in the field of archive management, for example through further study in the digital sector.

Il tirocinio svolto ha confermato ulteriormente la mia volontà di lavorare in un ambiente che, come la BSR, permette di stabilire un rapporto di interazione diretta tra archivista e ricercatore. Non intendo tuttavia tralasciare la possibilità di continuare la mia formazione in ambito archivistico, partecipando a Corsi di specializzazione o Master inerenti anche al settore della digitalizzazione.

 

Simona Giordano

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Where and what are you currently studying?

I am currently in my second and final year of my MA in Archival and Library Science (Department of Humanities) at Sapienza – Università di Roma.

Sono attualmente iscritta al secondo ed ultimo anno del corso di Laurea Magistrale in Archivistica e Biblioteconomia (Dipartimento di Lettere) presso l’Università ‘La Sapienza’, a Roma. 

What are you working on at the BSR?

I am working on the ‘Visual Art’ files located in the ‘Awards and Funding Bodies’ section of the BSR Administrative Archive. More specifically I am looking at the sub-series that deals with the various ‘Rome Scholarship’ awards in Painting, Sculpture, and Engraving, and at the ‘Abbey Major Scholarship in Painting’: my job has been to rearrange and label the files and to edit the inventory of administrative documents relating to former BSR award-holders.

Mi sto occupando della serie ‘Visual Art’ del fondo ‘Awards and Funding Bodies’, appartenente all’Archivio Amministrativo della BSR. In particolare sto lavorando alle sottoserie relative alle borse di studio ‘Rome Scholarship’ in ‘Pittura’, ‘Scultura’ e ‘Incisione’ e alle borse di studio in ‘Pittura’ del premio denominato ‘Abbey Major Scholarship in Painting’: il mio intervento consiste nelle operazioni di ordinamento e etichettatura di fascicoli e nella redazione di un inventario dei documenti  amministrativi degli ex borsisti della BSR.

What have you learnt from your experience at the BSR?

As a student of Archival Science, this experience at the BSR is a great opportunity for me to put what I have learned in my university course into practice in a stimulating work environment. To be able to handle documents and files and evaluate them in a real-life context has helped me to understand how an archive really functions, and to appreciate the difficulties that can arise when managing an archive like the BSR’s that houses such a vast array of materials.

Come studentessa di archivistica l’esperienza presso la BSR è un’importante opportunità per mettere in pratica gli insegnamenti del mio corso di laurea in un ambiente di lavoro stimolante e sereno. Toccare con mano carte, documenti e fascicoli, contribuendo a valorizzarli: attività utili a capire il funzionamento di un archivio e ad affrontarne le problematiche, specialmente all’interno di un ente come la BSR, dalla struttura articolata e dotato di un considerevole patrimonio documentaristico.

What are your plans for the future?

I would like to become an archivist! Before my MA in Archival Science. I obtained a BA in Cultural and Linguistics Mediation: not once have I regretted this change of direction, and every day my passion for archives is growing. All too often, the world of archives remains obscure, and there is a danger of it not being appreciated as it should. I hope that in the not too distant future society will learn to pay more attention to its past.

Mi piacerebbe diventare archivista! Prima di iscrivermi al corso di Laurea in Archivistica e Biblioteconomia ho conseguito la laurea triennale in Mediazione Culturale e Linguistica: aver cambiato oggetto di studio non solo non mi ha fatto pentire della mia scelta, ma anzi mi ha indirizzato verso quella che con il tempo sta diventando una grande passione. Spesso il mondo degli archivi è sconosciuto ai più, e altrettanto spesso rischia di non essere valorizzato come dovrebbe: spero in un futuro non troppo lontano di poter far parte di una società più attenta al suo passato. 


Text by Cristina Iannaccone and Simona Giordano. Translation by Natalie Arrowsmith. Photos by Alice Marsh.

British School at Rome 2009-2017

 A final message from Christopher Smith as outgoing BSR Director

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Photo: Antonio Palmieri

In March 2016, the British Government set out the reason it funds the British Academy sponsored institutes: ‘Developing research links and collaborations with the best researchers overseas.’

As I look back over eight years as Director of the British School at Rome, and the BSR looks forward to a new Director and a new academic year, it seems appropriate to reflect on how we are doing against this clear and specific mission.

My predecessor, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, continued to lead the Herculaneum Conservation Project brilliantly through the first years of my Directorship, and with the support of the Packard Humanities Institute and the local authorities, channelled millions of dollars into Herculaneum, and fostered dozens of international partnerships, most visibly in the major British Museum exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, and in commendations by UNESCO. Without the BSR this hugely important project would not have happened.

The BSR is involved in several major AHRC projects and a partner in the ERC Horizon 2020 project Unsettling Remembering and Social Cohesion in Transnational Europe.  Simon Keay’s outstanding work at Portus, begun at the BSR and conducted in full collaboration between the BSR, the Rome authorities and the University of Southampton, led to major AHRC grants and then an ERC grant as well as a very popular MOOC. The then AHRC CEO Rick Rylance singled out the BSR’s role as exemplary in terms of international collaboration.

This coming academic year we are hosting eight externally funded research fellows and seventeen humanities scholars (including our first creative writing fellow), and seventeen fine artists, supported by the BSR and our various funding partners.  Topics of research range from Roman clothing to medieval poetry, fascist fountains and the suicide attack on the Italian military police headquarters in Nasiriyah, Iraq in 2003, and range right across the Mediterranean and beyond, from prehistory to the contemporary. This breadth is both extraordinary and par for the course at the BSR!

The breadth and depth of BSR events in the coming three months continues to push British scholarship out to a wide intellectual community through workshops on ground penetrating radar, digital humanities, Roman Catholicism as a world religion, and one of the first events held outside the UK as part of the Being Human Festival of the Humanities, which will bring together UK and Italian experts on heritage management, illicit trade and endangered archaeological sites. This is part of the BSR’s contribution to accelerating bilateral relations between the UK and Italy, led by our Embassy in Rome.

All of our events (90 in 2016-17) command an international audience.  Our library has an international readership yet remains curated with the needs of UK scholars uppermost.  We have led the unification of Rome’s research library catalogues in URBiS, which with 2.6million records from 22 individual institutions is now a global resource. The BSR is itself a proudly international community where UK scholars and artists meet others from across the Commonwealth, the other foreign academies in Rome, and Italy’s best universities and research units.

In 2017 we commissioned an independent and detailed research review along the lines of REF. The results, just received, are highly positive and the openness of the BSR and its role in facilitating intellectual friendships and academic collaborations is repeatedly valued.

What does this look like in practical terms, in real life?  Next week, the new award-holders will arrive into a vibrant, successful and intellectually challenging institution.  They will form a multidisciplinary community drawn from many traditions and countries.

They will meet award-holders from the twenty-seven other research and arts institutions in Rome, participate in events with scholars and experts from St Andrews, the Courtauld Institute, La Sapienza, Tor Vergata, Siena, Austin Texas, Melbourne, and the Italian superintendencies and Guardia di Finanza, the British Embassy and the Italian Ministry of Culture. The activities will be led by our new Director, Professor Stephen Milner, himself a scholar of international reputation and experience.

If past performance can indicate future returns, then these award-holders will return home with both their own scholarship and creativity strengthened and a deep appreciation of what can be achieved when barriers are broken down and collaborations forged. Every one of last year’s humanities award-holders has secured a prestigious research position, and we have many new and exciting projects just beginning. It seemed fitting that the last event held during my directorship, on the Roman Campagna, united projects funded by the Getty, Leverhulme Trust and Australian Research Council, and brought the riches of our special collections, the knowledge of experts across Rome, and new technological advances in digitization and GIS, as well as contemporary artistic practice, to bear on the changing landscape, ecology and climate of Rome’s hinterland from 1000 BC to the present.

For over a hundred years, the BSR has had the mission of being the bridge between the UK, the Commonwealth and Italy. The BSR, together with the other institutions supported by the British government through the British Academy, form an innovative, successful and vital network, facilitating the work of UK HEIs in their regions, and bringing together the very best researchers and practitioners.

The values of internationalism, collaboration and community have never been more necessary.  I am immensely proud of what my colleagues at the BSR have achieved, staff members, award-holders, research fellows and visitors alike, and grateful to you for your support. I am confident that we fully meet the Government’s core objective for our institutions. And I am convinced that the BSR’s role in representing the best of an international United Kingdom in an international world is and will remain an invaluable part of the research and creative landscape which David Cannadine, the President of the British Academy, rightly described as ‘not recreational but fundamental, not optional but essential.

Christopher Smith