June Mostra 2016/ Meet the artists … David Ryan

Over the next few days we will be introducing you in turn to our seven resident artists who will be exhibiting in the June Mostra on Friday 17 June. With just over a week to go until opening night we joined David Ryan in his studio to find out more about him and his work.

David Ryan (Abbey Fellow in Painting)


David Ryan’s work explores formal relationships through abstraction. These forms are always seen as in dialogue. In this way the paintings aim to find a way of embedding certain contradictions – between private and social, inner and outer, and autonomous and referential. The current paintings explore variations on Giacomo Balla’s work Insidie di Guerra. In this context, the language of Futurist dynamism is broken up, re-staged and slowed down. They reflect on the projections of Futurism – now being the past’s conception of the future and operating rather like an archaeological fragmented artefact or inscription.

Your work takes inspiration from the Italian artist Giacomo Balla. What is it about his work that you find so interesting?

Balla interests me for several reasons, I think he’s of that generation of artists who were trying to figure out what painting could do. The futurists to whom he belonged for a while were trying to do something impossible in painting, by attempting to create a process of motion, or paintings representing motion. After the experimentation with that, his work changes. What I’m particularly interested in is the short phase from 1915 to 1923. In this period his work moves to not being so interested in representing motion as much as he was in the futurist period, he becomes more abstract. His paintings also become more of an exploration of space. They try to figure out what pictorial space can do; flatness, depth.

In Balla we get a sense of a rhythm of a composition, and I am interested in looking at that. I think a lot of modernist work, like minimalism, tries to go against the idea of composition and uses the neutral spaces of the grid or the monochrome. I like looking at the idea of how one might approach composition again. Balla is a key person that I wanted to look at in relation to this.

Some of Balla’s work is in the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, which you have visited, but have you found other artists that have interested you or surprised you in any way?

One of the great things about being at the BSR and being close to the art galleries and museums here is that I can research other paintings and painters that I wouldn’t normally be able to access, artists like Alberto Magnelli, Emiliio Vedova, Enrico Prampolini, among others. It’s very interesting to look at their work and how that particular generation of Italian painters who, in the wake of futurism and in between the World Wars, were trying to do something else with space and composition. As we speak, just this evening I’m going to an archive of an abstract painter, Giulio Turcato. He’s not someone whose work I know very well, but it is typical of the opportunities given to award-holders here at the BSR that this spontaneous trip to a unique archive in the artist’s studio and apartment was offered to me.

Have you found your work has changed from what you were working on before coming to the BSR? Are the set of paintings you have created for the upcoming mostra similar to the type of work you normally make?

I think there has been a change, there is a fluidity in the space, and I see these current paintings as a set of variations on a piece by Balla. There is certainly a musical sense of making variations from something. It’s definitely been an interesting key to thinking about this idea of space and temporality within painting – which re-connects with Balla. But also within this set of variations I wanted to take the paintings apart, to formally dismantle and reassemble the form in some way.

The other influence for me is more present within a set of larger paintings I made for the mostra at the Accademia di Romania in Roma, they are slightly different, slightly more formal in one sense. The larger paintings have to be more constructed, and have a relation to more architectural spaces such as wall decorations, mosaics, tiles etc., which, of course, I have experienced in Rome.

Has the gallery space that you will be exhibiting in within the BSR influenced your work?

Not so much to be honest, I had in mind already the idea of producing these smaller canvases, and it has been very liberating. It is less of a construction and things can happen quite differently within the work of this scale.  Both the mark-making and the viewing situation are framed differently by this very small scale. Yet grouped together they become much more expansive and about a kind of comparative looking.

I have been looking at the patina of things in Rome. Particularly the frescoes I have also been looking at the Etruscan art at Villa Giulia. The ceramics and frescoes are amazing.  Wall paintings are always scarred by time, and this has made me want to intervene in the surface of my paintings more. Sometimes I make a print of one painting and print it onto another, the surface gets disturbed. This has the effect of slowing down gestures, of creating surfaces that are at odds with each other.

What has been the most interesting thing about your residency at the BSR?

I think it’s been the conversations, with other people from different disciplines, it’s clarified certain things. I am very interested in Classical history, as well as the various histories of Rome, and being able to have those conversations has really helped. To bounce ideas off people, for them to come into the studio and make comments that I hadn’t thought of creates a very creative environment, which is particularly good for an intense residency like this.

David’s work will be exhibited alongside the other six resident artists in the June Mostra; open 16.30-19.00, Saturday 18 June until Saturday 25 June 2016, closed Sundays.

Photo by Antonio Palmieri, interview conducted by Katherine Paines

March Mostra 2016/ Meet the artists… Anne Ryan

Over the next few days we will be introducing you in turn to the six resident artists who will be exhibiting in the March Mostra on Friday 18 March. With one week to go, we went to see Anne Ryan in her studio to find out more about her and her work.

Anne Ryan (Abbey Fellow in Painting)

“I’m interested in the marginal, the minor, that’s where there might be something still to say or leave unsaid in painting.”


Anne Ryan’s work is concerned with how narrative in painting can open windows onto new worlds where uncertainty and ambiguity come into play. She has used images from Italian cinema and cinematography in the past, which often reference painting to such an extent that by using them as sources for new work she extends the loop between film and painting.  Furthermore, each day she moves through the landscapes of the city finding images, drawing Rome like an artist on a modern-day grand tour.  She edits and combines these findings to make watercolours, drawings and simple objects which are arranged in installations that explore new sets of narratives.

How do you start the process of making your work?

I’ve been walking around Rome every day, exploring the place and making drawings as I go. I wanted to get out and about and see the city, the everyday things in the streets and places like the Borghese Gardens. Some images come from these walks and some come from things like Etruscan pottery in the museums, some from Italian cinema as well.

I go backwards and forwards with my work, working on a lot of things at once so I can throw ideas around. I also wanted to do something new, because I’m only here for three months. I wanted to do something totally different to what I do at home. I’m a big oil painter and I didn’t want to do that here, I wanted to do something very different.

Is your working with watercolours new, or is it something you’re revisiting?

I have worked with watercolours before, but not much. I like it because it is such a fluid process and I can take it out and draw outside and make things quickly and easily. I’ve been doing loads of experiments with what I can do with it and where that might lead me.

From looking at your huge collection of work you seem to be interested in body shapes.

Most of the work relates to groups of figures in various situations. I think this comes from my interest in cinema – Italian cinema was my original reference. But I am also interested in the everyday, the normal, the things people usually miss. I’m not into beauty at all, maybe some of them become beautiful in the end, but it’s not about that. I’ve been exploring the movement in the paintings like something is about to change, like they are on the edge of becoming something else. I’ve ended up with is this big 3D drawing sculpture. There’s a very abstract quality to it, I’m going to lay it out like it’s a theatre, with sets almost, and groupings. It’s been fun making that.

And is that inspired/taken from Rome?

It’s been inspired by my walks around Rome, the museums, films, the cover of a book I’m reading about Naples, there’s a character from that. They’re not exact copies, I change them because I translate it, it all gets reconfigured from my memory in a sense, and so they change. These characters are meeting on that platform but they are all from different places.

And how does Italian cinema fit into your work?

It’s more like a mood or something that’s happening and I love to relate it to the real world. I like some of those films that seem to have no beginning and no end, it’s just like the middle runs on and on. To me that refers in a sense to the real world. I don’t want to take images directly from the movies, it could be more of an idea of what is happening, sometimes it could be a set of images that come from several different movies and then I’ll load them up into sharing the same space.

To me it is about the world I inhabit, not just about imagery from cinema and found sources. It’s almost like I suspend my thoughts and ideas I have about things and it becomes very real in a new way. In making the work I have been trying to break down the gap between drawing and painting, to make that space closer. In a sense, cinematography comes in there because I see it almost like drawing.

Cinema is great when narrative starts to break down and becomes a bit more abstract and then the story starts revealing itself slowly, it’s like when they’re leaving the screen and are no longer there but the story starts revealing itself and just flows. That’s the kind of narrative I’m interested in.

In London you said you work mostly with oil. Is your work with watercolour going to be something you take back with you?

I have so many ideas I need to go back with, so many ideas! I just need to stop myself now because I’ve started doing little things, and I only have three months here so I am going back with so many plans! I want to work on the floor with huge pieces of canvas and start pouring the paint and drawing with it. But there are common things too, between my work here and my work at home, drawing is always at the core of it.

Anne’s work will be exhibited alongside the other five resident artists in the March Mostra; open 16.30-19.00, Saturday 19 March until Friday 25 March 2016.

Photo by Antonio Palmieri

June Mostra/Meet the Artists… Daniel Sinsel

Daniel Sinsel, Untitled, 2014. Oil on linen, nutshells, 150x130x10cm

Daniel Sinsel (Abbey Fellow in Painting April–June 2015)

I will eventually spell out the name H Ä N S E L. (Not only do Hänsel and I share the same number of letters in my first and surname, but also actual letters.) He was Gretel’s brother. He was captured and fed by a witch who was keen to have him as a roast dinner. His sister managed to rescue him.

My plan is to tell some of the story visually. I will use some Roman and Gothic lettering. By means of Italian earth pigments I tried to create some culinary allure to baking, roasting and cooking. I looked at a lot of Roman (marble) penes here. So I made two for Hänsel. I looked at frescoes and mosaics. I love the telling of stories combined with interior decoration. It’s a nice way to live.

Prima o poi riuscirò a compitare il nome H Ä N S E L (Non solo ho lo stesso numero di lettere nel mio nome a cognome come H Ä N S E L, ma anche le lettere stesse). Era il fratello di Gretel. Fu catturato e nutrito da una stregha che lo voleva mangiare per cena. La sorella riuscì a salvarlo.

Il mio piano è di narrare la storia con elementi visivi. Userò lettere romane e gotiche. Grazie all’uso di pigmenti italiani a base di terra ho provato a creare un richiamo culinario alla cottura al forno, all’arrosto, e alla cucina. Ho guardato molti peni romani (in marmo) durante la mia residenza, così ho deciso di farne due per Hänsel. Ho continuato a studiare affreschi e mosaici. Amo narrare storie combinandole con decorazioni per interni. È un bel modo di vivere.


Daniel Sinsel. Photo: Antonio Palmieri.


BSR Fine Arts June Mostra opens Friday 12 June 2015 18.30. Dates: 13–20 June (excluding Sunday). Hours: 16.30–19.00. Read the Press Release here or join the facebook event here.

March Mostra/Meet the Artists…Nancy Milner

Nancy Milner, Untitled, 2014. Oil on canvas, 120x115cm.

Nancy Milner, Untitled, 2014. Oil on canvas, 120x115cm.


Nancy Milner (Abbey Scholar in Painting, October 2014–June 2015) constructs paintings that use colour and form to investigate light and space in painting. She is challenged by what is at stake in current painting. In the process of painting a dialogue between her and the painting opens up a space where decisions are challenged and pushed. The finished paintings are an accumulation of the time taken to make them: a manifestation of thinking, memory and experience in the space of painting.

Nancy Milner (Abbey Scholar in Painting, ottobre 2014–giugno 2015) realizza dipinti che usano colore e forma come mezzi per esplorare la luce e lo spazio nella pittura. L’artista trae stimolo da ciò che accade nella pittura contemporanea. Nel processo pittorico il dialogo tra l’artista e il dipinto dà luogo a decisioni contestate e azzardate. I dipinti, una volta ultimati, sono il risultato di un’accumulazione del tempo trascorso per realizzarli, e la manifestazione di pensieri, ricordi ed esperienze nello spazio pittorico.

Nancy Milner, Photo: Antonio Palmieri

Nancy Milner, Photo: Antonio Palmieri

BSR Fine Arts March Mostra opens Friday 13 March 2015 18.30. Dates: 14–21 March (excluding Sunday). Hours: 16.30–19.00. Read the Press Release here or join the facebook event here.


March Mostra/Meet the Artists…Gina Medcalf

Woods so Wild 2012  Medcalf

Gina Medcalf, Woods so Wild, 2013. 68.6 x 45.7 cm, acrylic on canvas.


Gina Medcalf’s (Abbey Fellow in Painting January–March 2015) paintings fuse colour and drawing. She wants each of the seven colours in these paintings to have their own character, as well as being integrated as part of the whole; the line within the stroke to feel autonomous. She has used colours from ancient wall paintings in this recent work: red, yellow, brown and chrome-green oxides, ultramarine and black and white. The sites of Oplontis, Herculaneum and the inspiring Villa Farnese frescoes at Palazzo Massimo in Rome have been the focus of her work during this residency, demonstrating her deep interest in both the art of the past and in painting’s present.

I dipinti di Gina Medcalf (Abbey Fellow in Painting gennaio–marzo 2015) fondono colore e disegno. L’obiettivo dell’artista è quello di fare in modo che ciascuno dei sette colori nei dipinti abbia un proprio carattere, e che ciascuno sia parte integrante del tutto; si rende autonoma la linea nel tratto. In questi recenti lavori, Medcalf utilizza i colori degli antichi affreschi: rosso, giallo, marrone eossido di cromo verde, blu ultramarino, bianco e nero. Il suo lavoro, durante la sua residenza, si è ispirato ai siti di Oplontis, Ercolano e agli stimolanti affreschi di Villa Farnese a Palazzo Massimo a Roma. Ciò dimostra il suo profondo interesse nei confronti dell’arte del passato e nella pittura del presente.

Gina Medcalf, Photo: Antonio Palmieri

Gina Medcalf, Photo: Antonio Palmieri

BSR Fine Arts March Mostra opens Friday 13 March 2015 18.30. Dates: 14–21 March (excluding Sunday). Hours: 16.30–19.00. Read the Press Release here or join the facebook event here.


December Mostra/Meet the Artists…Gill Ord

G Ord, 2014

G Ord, Intonations, oil on canvas, 180 x 120cm, 2013


Gill Ord’s (Abbey Fellow in Painting, October – December 2014) experience in Rome began by working on site, in underground spaces. These places were chosen for their particular qualities and depth of history. In the studio the paintings she has made are instinctive, but also intentionally about the experience of being in these ancient and layered locations.

L’esperienza di  Gill Ord (Abbey Fellow in Painting, ottobre – dicembre 2014) a Roma è iniziata lavorando in situ, in spazi sotterranei. La scelta di questi luoghi è avvenuta in virtù delle loro qualità particolari e della loro profondità storica. I dipinti realizzati nello studio sono istintivi, ma presentano anche la consapevolezza di queste visite a luoghi antichi e stratificati.


BSR Fine Arts December Mostra opens Friday 12 December 2014 18.30. Dates: 13 – 20 December (excluding Sunday). Hours: 16.30-19.00. Read the Press Release here or join the facebook event here.


March Mostra/ Meet the artists…Andrea Medjesi-Jones

Photograph by A. Palmieri


Andrea Medjesi-Jones’ (Abbey Fellow in Painting, January – March 2014) drawings and paintings draw influence from social and political movements of post-war Europe.  These historical references are introduced in the work through a series of material gestures (masking tape stencils, cut-outs, collages).  In the series of works presented for March Mostra, these gestures assume a ruinous and monumental quality, giving physical form to Medjesi-Jones’ ongoing interest in the long history of failed ideologies.

I disegni e i dipinti di Andrea Medjesi-Jones (Abbey Fellow in Painting, gennaio – marzo 2014) traggono ispirazione da vari movimenti sociali e politici del dopo guerra Europeo.  Questi riferimenti storici vengono introdotti nel suo lavoro attraverso l’uso di una serie di gesti materiali (stencil, ritagli, collages).  Nella serie di lavori presentati in occasione di March Mostra, questi gesti assumono una qualità monumentale, dando forma fisica all’interesse dell’artista nella lunga storia di ideologie fallite.


BSR Fine Arts March Mostra opens Friday 14 March 2014 18.30. Dates: 15 – 22 March (excluding Sunday). Hours: 16.30-19.00. Read the press release here or join the Facebook group here.

March Mostra Poster