December Mostra 2015/ Meet the Artists

With the excitement of the December Mostra only one day away we invite you to meet the seven resident artists who will be exhibiting in the show.

Each of the artists were asked one question about their work and their time spent at the British School in Rome.

Ross Taylor
Abbey Scholar in Painting

Ross Taylor’s paintings are concerned with a language that is non-specific. A kind of poetics where only condensations appear on the surface, attempting to model thoughts and ideas that seem to be impossible in a physical realm. His research in Rome focuses on late medieval conceptions of virtual space and the techniques employed in portraying the sacred and the figureless.

Ross

Reflecting on the worn out surfaces of your paintings, do you think there is any parallel between these surfaces and the various ‘skins’ of Rome?

‘I’m trying not to take your question literally but at first glance, the surface of my paintings could be mistaken for parchment. They look leathery and beaten.

How the linen gets to this point is part of a process, in which marks, creases, stains, folds and slashes act as an informal language. Information that I can begin to decipher, and which informs the genesis of a work. The painting remains unstretched at this point and is kicked around the studio floor for a time until I notice something that needs ‘bringing out’. But rather than seeing the surface as an animal hide, I see this plane as a kind of liquid, or pool, where images float to the surface. And, when contemplating these condensations, ordering and adapting their unmediated components, I feel I am allowed to model ideas or thoughts that may usually appear impossible in physical space and time.

On our first week at the BSR we were taken by Professor Christopher Smith to visit the Forum. It was pointed out that when an archaeologist excavates a site, they must decide on what information will be revealed, and what histories should be removed to allow this. It’s like a haircut on a massive scale, or pruning a garden. Huge swathes of narrative from the Forum were scraped off the site’s surface, presenting you with a specific destination. This idea has become stuck in my head, as I don’t see myself as a creator of fictions but rather I see myself as a translator. I do not try to invent but rather discover something within the work.’

Catherine Story
Abbey Fellow in Painting

Catherine Story makes arrangements of paintings, sculptures and found objects. In Rome she’s been looking at different support structures, asking whether their natural shapes and basic materials are more relevant today than the ideal forms they once supported. Tree trunks hold up statues of Roman soldiers and brick buildings stand naked without their marble facades, but the holes between are like eyes watching from an ancient time.

Catherine

How do you think your three-month exploration of the material world and structure of Rome has influenced your work?

‘It’s hard to know, these experiences take time to settle in and you can only really see the changes later, but the difference between this visit and earlier ones is that previously I’ve concentrated on looking at the Renaissance paintings but this time, right from the tour of Ostia in the first week, I’ve been much more affected by the overlapping structures and materials of the city. No doubt this will influence my work in the furture but in the meantime it’s made me even more appreciative of how Fellini and Sergio Leone manage to embed so many different layers and moods into their films.’

Lincoln Austin
Australia Council Resident

Lincoln Austin’s ongoing artistic experiments perennially orbit around concepts of subjectivity, perception, experience and the blurred interaction of ideal and material realities. Lincoln has come to Rome to interrogate and document the ‘Cosmatesque’ mosaics produced for numerous churches in and around the city throughout the 12th and 13th centuries; masterful works utilizing a language of pure geometry to express a metaphysical cosmology, made from recycled stone gathered from the Fori Romani. Austin’s resulting artworks are a distillation of both the experience of looking at the ‘Cosmatesque’ firsthand and an attempt to integrate elements of this symbolic language of materials and geometry into his personal lexicon.

Lincoln

You work with so many repetitive designs that have such a central role in your practice. Having been given the opportunity to travel and see so many of these cosmatesque patterns ‘in the flesh’, has your work been influenced the way you expected it to be?

‘In preparing for this project I tried to keep my expectations of how an ‘in the flesh’ experience of these cosmatesque designs might influence work made in Rome to a minimum and instead focus more on the symbolism they employed and their origins in antiquity.

I had expected to undertake a methodical analysis of these mosaic designs by thoroughly documenting as many patterns and variations as possible photographically and exploring possible applications for variations within my own work. The great surprise for me was that when I finally found myself on a cosmatesque pavement pattern, they were the carefully constructed geometric abstraction I was expecting but they were also highly evocative and sensual surfaces, each one showing evidence of the effects of the movement of time. Each of the numerous examples of Cosmati work I have seen in and around Rome has been worn, damaged, restored or altered in different ways.

As expected I have produced an extensive archive of documentary photographs of the various cosmateque mosaic designs and their various applications. Alongside this I have produced a series of photographs and videos which reveal the sensual/tactile nature of these mosaics. These images are concerned with variations in texture and luster resulting from continuous wear, how the light of the architectural spaces in which they are located effects the reading of these mosaic and how the people who interact with these artworks affect them over time.

One step removed from this again is the work that I have produced for the BSR December Mostra; these works are the distillation of both this methodical analysis and the sensual experience of these mosaics. Working with found, ephemeral or everyday materials to create formal yet evocative and sensual works which engage with the immutability of pure geometry and the ever changing, fluid nature of time and life.’

James Ferris
Derek Hill Foundation Scholar

James Ferris is presenting a collection of images, objects and sound.  Over the past eight weeks he has been researching the talking statues of Rome and the question of what it might be to give works of art agency.

James

Your initial point of interest was in the talking sculptures in Rome, i.e. the Pasquino. Has your close proximity to these artworks changed the way you interact with them?

‘Yes.’

Mark Andrew Kelly
Giles Worsley Rome Fellow

Mark Andrew Kelly is a registered architect from Northern Ireland, currently working in practice in London. The exhibition explores concrete construction in Roman barrel vaults, cross-vaults and modern lightweight domes. His exhibition will present works made in various mediums including drawings, blueprints, graphite sketching, watercolour paintings, cast scaled models, 3D printing, oil painting and measured drawings on fine drafting film.

Mark

As an architect in a city with such a famous and varied architectural history, what has captured your interest most over the past three months?

‘The city has a rich and varied arrangement of buildings, public spaces and landscapes, layered on top of one another. The focus of my research on domes, vaulting and construction methods has taken me to see a wide and worthwhile series of case studies, which I will draw from in my future practice over the next 30 years.

There are three unique and significant experiences which stand out from my BSR fellowship:

a) (Temple of Mercury: Baiae, Bay of Naples) Drawing on the roof of the oldest concrete monumental dome in the world, near the oculus before sunset was profound. The temple of mercury (20.1m dome) was built in the late 1st century BC, around two centuries earlier than the Pantheon 123 AD (43.3m dome). The spaces created with pozzolana volcanic ash from Vesuvius nearby, made this concrete dome possible. This seminal building technique is a key moment in history, which has been used widely after Emperor Augustus throughout Imperial Rome to create many of Rome’s dome masterpieces like the Domus Area, the Baths of Caracalla and the Pantheon.

b) (Octagonal dome at Domus Aurea, Rome) The subterranean Domus Aurea was Nero’s golden house and pleasure palace, in the heart of Rome built in 64AD after a large fire on the Palentine and Aventine hills. After Nero died his successors wanted to destroy his work and distance themselves from his buildings. Hence the Baths of Trajan were built on top and the Domus Aurea and the palace was filled in with soil to block entry. Today archaeologists have made it possible to visit the underground rooms and octagonal dome wearing a hard hat and protective equipment, to explore this very large underground complex which was around 400m long, which is around four football pitches in length, with around 140 rooms on two levels and ceiling heights stretching up to eleven meters. The experience walking underground present day Rome and looking up at the Domus Aurea’s very unusual octagonal dome, was an eye-opening experience, to understand Nero’s ambition without today’s construction machinery.

c) (Fondi Arte – Fonderia di Bronzo, Rome) The final experience was bronze lost-wax casting which was used by the ancients to create their sculptural work. My research has been into casting concrete domes, through looking at the wood formwork which was used to create a negative mould to form the positive concrete form. This interest in formwork has led me to explore casting, which also uses plaster formwork to create sculptures and architectural maquette scaled models. The model of a lightweight roof dome inspired by the Italian engineer Pier Luigi Nervi was first hand-sculpted in wax and then a plaster negative cast was made, this was heated to 1100 degrees centigrade and molten bronze was poured into the plaster cavity, left to harden, cool, be polished and a patina can be added. The results were very pleasing and this will be shown in the BSR December mostra next to 21st century 3D prints to show the progression of technology across 2000 years in architectural design. I will let people decide if digital or analogue models are more effective. This unique experience working with skilled craftsmen in a bronze foundry is unique to Rome, where there is a strong craft tradition.’

Mandy Niewöhner
Rome Fellow in Contemporary Art

Mandy, Gerrit and Maria Niewöhner are three artists in one body.  In Rome they have been researching Michelangelo’s Last Judgement and the Vatican.  By queering the Vatican and transforming themselves into the Holy Trinity, Mandy, Gerrit & Maria have altered their individual experiences in a whole new body of work where questions are raised about sexuality, gender, religion and Catholic guilt.

Mandy

Your work includes the input of your three alter-egos; Mandy, Gerrit and Maria. How do you feel that your time at the BSR has allowed you to understand more about the personality of these three characters and how they relate to each other in an artistic sense? Is this something that will be explored in the mostra and in your research and continuing work?

The BSR has given us the time and space to develop ourselves not only on a personal level but especially artistically. This is the first time that Mandy, Gerrit and Maria are working and researching together. Before we came to the BSR we didn’t really know how us three could work together, especially since we are sharing one body, but during the residency everything fell into place and we discovered sides of ourselves we thought we never had. For the mostra we’ve collaborated on the work and the research with each of us giving a different input. We are very excited about the work we have made and how much we have grown as artists in such a short time. The BSR has become a starting point for us to explore our collaboration and it is something we would like to continue exploring in the future.’

Rachel Adams
Sainsbury Scholar in Painting and Sculpture

Rachel Adams’ practice draws on a wide array of influences ranging from 1930s interior design to neolithic tools, classical sculpture and science fiction props.  Her objects combine a variety of DIY methods, such as tie-dye and macramé, with contemporary techniques like laser cutting and digital printing.  These works aim to highlight contradictions in both our perceived notions of history and the hierarchical structures of art and design.

Rachel

While at the BSR you have had almost unrestricted access to sculptures and monuments from numerous historical periods, but at the same time have also been able to see work from more ‘contemporary’ designers like Gio Ponti at the Palazzo delle Esposizione. How do you feel that this has expanded or reduced your view on sculpture in your own bracket?

‘For me, the mix of these two aspects has definitely expanded my view on sculpture, in particular the way these two aspects of sculpture can sit together. Of course being in Rome has been fantastic for seeing numerous sculptures and monuments from the ancient world. Working in the UK, it is difficult to see the quality, variety and abundance of objects from the period, where mostly we have access to copies or examples of neoclassicism. I have focused on ancient sculptures, but I have been very impressed by the more modern work on display, in particular that of artists/designers, for example Depero, whose appliqué is on display in both the Palazzo delle Esposizione and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna. The way 20th-century artists in Italy seem to be able to cross disciplines, to create very irrational and luxurious design has been quite surprising to me, and quite unique in European Modernism. One thing that has particularly caught my eye in Rome’s numerous museums across both ancient and modern is in the methods of display. I have seen examples of classical motifs used to exhibit contemporary objects, and where fragmented marble from the 1st century re held in position with contemporary materials, like transparent acrylic or metal clamps. I feel like this clash of materials, the functional objects of the twentieth century with these ancient cultural objects holds great potential for my work, and will allow me to explore a greater amount of play and irrationality in the studio.’

Katherine Paines (Communications and Events Assistant)

All images credited to Antonio Palmieri, 2015

All details for the December Mostra: Open Studios can be found here.

June Mostra/Meet the Artists… Catherine O’Donnell

 

Garbatella,  2015. Charcoal on paper,  76.5 x 56 cm

Catherine O’Donnell, Garbatella, 2015. Charcoal on paper, 76.5 x 56 cm

www.catherineodonnell.com.au

Catherine O’Donnell (National Art School, Sydney, Resident in Drawing April-June 2015)

I am interested in the urban aesthetics that shape and inform our everyday lives, and the way in which the architectural vernacular of the places we regularly inhabit becomes recessed into our minds like wallpaper – present but at the same time invisible. Drawing for me is a way of redefining these spaces; not merely a ‘copy’ of ‘reality’ but rather a recycled, re-contextualised and abstracted transcription with a strong emphasis on the geometric form; resulting in a distilled version of the everyday environment.

Sono interessata all’estetica urbana che condiziona e informa le nostre vite quotidiane, e la maniera in cui il vernacolo architettonico dei luoghi che occupiamo regolarmente recede nella nostra mente, come una carta da parati – presente ma allo stesso tempo invisibile. Disegnare per me è un modo di ridefinire questi spazi; non una semplice copia della realtà, ma una trascrizione riciclata, ricontestualizzata e astratta, con una forte enfasi sulla forma geometrica. Questo produce una versione distillata del nostro panorama quotidiano.

 

Catherine O'Donnell, Photo: Antonio Palmieri

Catherine O’Donnell, 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.

June Mostra/Meet the Artists… Angela Brennan

Angela Brennan, Classics, 2014. Oil on linen, 180 x 180 cm.

Angela Brennan, Classics, 2014. Oil on linen, 180 x 180 cm.

www.roslynoxley9.com.au

www.niagaragalleries.com.au

Angela Brennan (Australia Council Resident April–June 2015)

This group of paintings includes a double portrait based on statuary in Palazzo Massimo, a portrait of St Francis of Assisi, an old Latin transcription of a quote by Agamben and an abstract painting. My painting practice moves between different subjects and motifs, making representations not of things in themselves, but of how things could be in multiple temporalities and spaces. I am concerned with the effects of internalising the external; like the Kantian mirror, painting intercedes, to then face the world.

Questo gruppo di dipinti include un doppio ritratto che trae spunto da alcune statue che si trovano a Palazzo Massimo, un ritratto di San Francesco d’Assisi, una vecchia trascrizione latina di una citazione di Agamben, e un dipinto astratto. La mia ricerca pittorica fluttua tra vari soggetti e motivi, creando non rappresentazioni di cose, ma di come queste cose potrebbero esistere in molteplici luoghi e spazi temporali. Sono interessata agli effetti di interiorizzare l’esterno; come lo specchio di Kant, la pittura intercede, per poi affacciarsi al mondo.


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.

June Mostra/Meet the Artists… Nancy Milner

Nancy Milner, Untitled, 2015. Oil on canvas, 75x60cm

Nancy Milner, Untitled, 2015. Oil on canvas, 75x60cm

www.nancymilner.com

Nancy Milner (Abbey Scholar in Painting 2014-15)

I make paintings that use colour and form to investigate light and space in painting. My thinking centres on the relationship between painting and architectural space. I am interested in the ways that our day-to-day lives are ordered and the influence this has on the painting process. In the process of painting a dialogue between myself 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.

Produco dipinti che sfruttano colore e forma per investigare concetti pittorici di luce e spazio. La mia ricerca si incentra sul rapporto tra la pittura e lo spazio architettonico. Sono interessata ai modi in cui la nostra vita quotidiana si organizza e a l’influenza questo ha sul processo pittorico. Nel processo pittorico, un dialogo si forma tra me e il dipinto, che da 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


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.

June Mostra/Meet the Artists… Alexi Keywan

Alexi Keywan, The passenger no.17. Pen on paper, 32 x 25 cm. Photo: By Artist.

https://alexikeywan.wordpress.com/

Alexi Keywan (William Fletcher Foundation Scholar April–June 2015)

It is difficult not to be awestruck and swayed by the weight of art and history that Rome holds, but also something that cannot be ignored. My practice addresses themes of location and dislocation through representing utilitarian objects, symbols and spaces that populate our lives. Rome is both a living museum and an expanding city with multiple histories that can be seen and felt in its streets, structure and architecture. The work I have made here is a dialogue between the physical forms that evince power and progress, to the confessions of those that build and inhabit it – the relationship between tangible space and the psychological.

È difficile non rimanere impressionati ed influenzati dal peso della storia e dell’arte di Roma, ma ciò non può neanche essere ignorato. La mia ricerca esplora il tema del luogo e della dislocazione tramite la rappresentazione di oggetti pratici, simboli, e spazi che ci circondano e popolano le nostre vite. Roma è allo stesso tempo museo vivente e città in continua espansione, con molteplici storie che possono essere viste e vissute nelle sue strade, le sue strutture, la sua architettura. Il lavoro che ho prodotto durante la mia residenza si presenta come un dialogo tra le forme fisiche che manifestano immagini di potere e progresso, e le confessioni degli abitanti che li costruiscono e ci abitano – il rapporto tra lo spazio tangibile e quello psicologico.

 

Alexi Keywan, Photo: Catherine O’Donnell

 


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.

June Mostra/Meet the Artists… Rowena Harris

Rowena Harris, Searching for a sense of balance (part 3) – detail, 2015. Concrete, 28 x 21 x 6cm.

www.rowenaharris.com

Rowena Harris (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting & Sculpture 2014–15)

I had, of course, a long time ago, stopped thinking of myself as real. Well at some point I realised that virtual and reality are all but the same. So a sense of realness or having a distinction between myself as I and my body as I, or somehow comprehending the whole of my being as some kind of distinct singular entity, has, well, gone array. I have been trying to figure this out, you know, as an abstract exercise. Figuring Rome would be a place to find my missing parts. It’s a place for the body, for the senses – in the architecture, the streets and around. I thought they might be scattered on the ground somewhere, caught in petrified cement perhaps. I’m still hopeful I will find them.

Ho smesso tempo fa, naturalmente, di pensare a me stessa come persona reale. Ad un certo punto ho capito che il virtuale e la realtà sono pressoché la stessa cosa. Quindi il bisogno di aggrapparsi a un senso di realtà, o immaginare una distinzione tra il me come io e il mio corpo come io, o provare in qualche modo a comprendere tutto il mio essere come una singola entità, si è più o meno perso. Ho continuato a provare a chiarire questo concetto, sai, come un esercizio astratto. Pensando che Roma sarebbe un posto dove trovare i pezzi mancanti. È una città per il corpo, i sensi – nell’architettura, nelle strade e nei dintorni. Ho pensato che forse questi pezzi potrebbero essere sparpagliati da qualche parte, forse incastonati nel cemento. Sono ancora dell’idea che li troverò.

senzahead


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…Paul James Gomes

Paul James Gomes filming street art about immigrant families in Tor Pignattara, also known as the Bangla Town of Rome.

Paul James Gomes filming street art about immigrant families in Tor Pignattara, also known as the Bangla Town of Rome. Photo: Paolo Landriscina.

http://pauljamesgomes.wordpress.com

Paul James Gomes (Creative Scotland document24 Fellow January–March 2015) is a filmmaker and photographer whose work revolves around migration and understandings of home. During his stay at the BSR, he has been working with Bangladeshi migrants present on the Roman streets. They are highly visible yet we avert our eyes when confronted with their presence. Presenting their stories, he forces viewers to engage with the humanity of the other and to see their lives as an integral part of the ever-changing face of Rome.

Il lavoro del regista e fotografo Paul James Gomes (Creative Scotland document24 Fellow gennaio–marzo 2015) si incentra sulla migrazione e sul concetto di casa. Durante la sua residenza alla BSR Gomes ha lavorato con migranti bengalesi presenti nelle strade romane. Pur essendo ben visibili, quando ci imbattiamo in loro voltiamo lo sguardo. Presentando le loro storie, Gomes obbliga gli osservatori ad essere coinvolti nell’umanità degli altri e a vedere le loro vite come parte integrante del volto sempre mutevole di Roma.

Selfie, Paul James Gomes.

Selfie, Paul James Gomes.


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 2015 POSTER