A look back at the June Mostra 2016

In case you weren’t able to attend the June Mostra showing works produced by our seven resident artists from April to June, we have compiled our favourites from the official photographs of the exhibition (photographer: Roberto Apa). You can read the individual blogs published about each of the artists by clicking on an artist’s name.

The exhibition was made possible thanks to the kind support and generosity of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Australia Council for the Arts, the Helpmann Academy, The Incorporated Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Scholarships, The Linbury Trust and The National Art School, Sydney.

BSR - June 2016 - 039Gallery installation view

BSR - June 2016 - 021Gallery installation view

BSR - June 2016 - 025Corridor installation view

BSR - June 2016 - 028Foyer installation view


David Ryan (Abbey Fellow in Painting)

David Ryan, Variazioni Oblique dopo Balla Futurista, oil on linen, 15 x 20 cm, 30 paintings


Ross Taylor (Abbey Scholar in Painting)

BSR - June 2016 - 002

Ross Taylor, B, paint and ink on paper, 272 x 727 cm


Damien Duffy (Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellow)

Damien Duffy, False Flag, mixed media, plinth, oil and acrylic on canvas, dimensions variable

Damien Duffy, Back Stab, oil on canvas, flowers, dimensions variable


Joseph Griffiths (Australia Council Resident)

Joseph Griffiths, Fountains, water, travertine, silicon, irrigation tubes, sound, dimensions variable


Deborah Prior (Helpmann Academy Resident)

Deborah Prior, Lupa, found woolen blanket, pillow, stain, mixed media, dimensions variable


Margaret Roberts (National Art School, Sydney, Resident in Drawing)

Margaret Roberts, left to right: Ground Plan, tulle, elastic, nails, 110 x 240 cm; Triangle & Circle, graphite, wood, nails, 300 x 300 cm


Rachel Adams (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting & Sculpture)

Rachel Adams, left to right: Unravelled 1, tye-dye fabric on timber, stainless steel, t-shirt yarn, 125 x 73 cm; Scuttle Shuttle Shuffle, laser cut acrylic, fabric, timber, t-shirt yarn, 50 x 48 cm; See Saws, laser cut acrylic, fabric, timber, 113 x 113 x 25 cm; Unravelled 2, tye-dye fabric on timber, laser cut acrylic, t-shirt yarn, 150 x 120 cm

A look back at the March Mostra 2016

Just in case you weren’t able to attend the March Mostra showing works produced by our six resident artists from January to March, we have compiled our favourites from the official photographs of the exhibition. (Photographer: Roberto Apa). You can read the individual blog published about each of the artists by clicking on that artist’s name.

The exhibition was made possible thanks to the kind support and generosity of The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Australia Council for the Arts, Conseil des Arts et des Lettres Québec, The Incorporated Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Scholarships and The Linbury Trust.

Our June Mostra will be taking place on Friday 17 June.

Main gallery viewGallery installation view

_APA5431Gallery installation view

_APA5474 copiaFoyer installation view


Anne Ryan (Abbey Fellow in Painting)


Anne Ryan, left to right: Io Saturnalia, acrylic on card, dimensions variable
Untitled (Dérive), watercolour on paper, dimensions variable


Ross Taylor (Abbey Scholar in Painting)

Ross Taylor, left to right: Box of teeth, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 130 x 110 cm
The Bony Labyrinth, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 120 x 150 cm,
Tanaquai, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 39 x 30 cm
Bad blood and eggy piss, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 27 x 40 cm
Big ginger son, oil, pastel and pencil on linen, 45 x 60 cm


Damien Duffy (Arts Council of Northern Ireland Fellow)


Damien Cropped

Damien Duffy, Sea Ghost Audit, acrylic on canvas, 300 x 230 cm


Michelle Ussher (Australia Council Resident)


Michelle Ussher, left to right: Biatches, oil on linen, 65 x 80 cm
Porn classic with middle-aged brunette, oil on linen, 50.5 x 40 cm


Jonas St. Michael (Québec Resident)

Panoramica_senza titolo1.jpg

JOnas Cropped

Jonas St. Michael, Untitled, photographic print, 180 x 150 cm (x2)


Rachel Adams (Sainsbury Scholar in Painting & Sculpture)

Chairs cropped

Rachel Adams, Heritage Work 1 and 2, tie-dyed cotton, timber, t-shirt yarn, zinc brackets and steel tube, 50 x 50 x 85 cm

March Mostra 2016/ Meet the artists… Rachel Adams

Our sixth and final interview for the March Mostra on Friday 18 March is Rachel Adams. Rachel talks in the below interview about the progression of her work over the last six months of living in Rome and how excited she is about the upcoming mostra.

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.

Within your first three months here you created your curtain piece for the mostra which worked really well within the space of the Open Studio. Has the fact that this mostra is a shared gallery space changed the way you have approached your work?

Definitely, because I know that it is a shared gallery space my work can’t be site specific in the way that the curtain I made was. That piece was created for my studio window, so it had to be a particular scale; the window dictated a lot of the decision making. For the first mostra it was really good for me to have that singular idea, whereas this time I have been making things in the studio the same way I would work in my studio in the UK.

It took me quite a long while to work out how to make work here: you need time to be able to get used to your materials and tools. So the work I have made for this exhibition is the first time I’ve made work in the way I do at home.

For this exhibition I have made a pair of chairs. They are based on chairs that I saw at the Villa Borghese museum, the chairs that you’re not allowed to sit on. They are also influenced by a post-modern Italian design particularly the work of Nathalie Du Pasquier. Du Pasquier was one of the founding members of Memphis and she made these really incredible chairs. I have been looking at her work a lot, specifically how pattern covers her designs for furniture, and I’ve been really influenced by it. Another thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is the book fold marble; where you get a symmetrical pattern but with an irregular element. I’ve been using that idea when I create my dyed textures for these works as well.

One of the things Ross [Taylor, Abbey Scholar in Painting] has said about being at the BSR for six months is that he feels that Rome is influencing his work for this mostra in a more obvious way than it did for the last one. Do you feel you agree with this?

I think it could be, I always need hindsight to tell that sort of thing. The curtain was definitely very influenced by Rome and the marble in the churches. I was also using a new technique – it was the first piece I had managed to make using that. I think I have got more comfortable with Rome, and adding it back in to what I was doing before. With my pieces for this mostra I wanted it to be quite alien looking, referencing science fiction – that’s why I’m going to have these metal brackets on the work so they have this hard/soft mechanical/organic thing going on. I also think Rome has allowed me to use Classicism again, I had partly rejected it recently even though it was very much present in my older work.

You’ve mentioned Classicism. Do you think that that is the time period you have referenced the most?

In Rome there is this feeling of the piling up of different time periods within one space. I hope that is something that will become more apparent in my work. The way that things are layered is definitely interesting. One thing that has been really useful for me to see are all these Palazzi where you get a chair next to a sculpture, with a wall painting, and fake marble, and a gold frame. It is so over the top, which has allowed me to think that I can get away with using a mixture of techniques: tie-dye and macramé, one pattern upon another pattern. Seeing this has given me the confidence to go very bold in my art rather than feeling like I have to make things more muted or subtle.

Finally, are you looking forward to the show?

Yes definitely. What is really exciting is having been in the other artists’ studios I can see there is a very clear and intense use of colour. That’s going to come out really clearly in the show and look very exciting and intense in the gallery space.

Rachel’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 (closed Sunday).

Photo by Antonio Palmieri

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.