By Kate Fahey practice-based PhD candidate, London College of Communication

image: Relief fragments at the Museum of the Baths of Caracalla

Mead PhD Residency at the British School at Rome report by Kate Fahey practice-based PhD candidate, London College of Communication.

I applied for a Mead Residency because I felt that the BSR would provide me with a rich and reflective environment for my studio based research practice. The interdisciplinary nature of my practice falls within several of the BSR’s current research themes, with a focus on vision, sensory perception and representation and I envisioned that I would be able to meet with and discuss my practice with other artists and researchers in this context. The timing of the residency was also important, coming at the end of my first year of research. I wished to use it to contemplate what I had achieved but also reflect upon new potential avenues within my practice and writing. The pace of life in London moves quickly and I was also looking to take this opportunity to get away and detach from daily routines to potentially develop a new critical approach that would be productive not only on the residency but also afterwards upon returning to London.

image: Filing system at the Aerofototeca Nazionale

image: Covered Busts at the Borghese Gardens

While I was at Rome I developed a framework for my research, which felt clear and appropriate while being flexible. This allowed me to begin to work in different ways simultaneously. I began making a moving image and sound piece with an accompanying voice over which I am currently still working on. This emerged from a conversation with one of the other artists also on residency that works predominantly with sound. I also developed a series of plans for plaster reliefs, which are now in an experimental development stage with the 3D workshop at LCC. These went through several initial iterations in the studio in Rome in printed format before being developed for laser etching. Finally I started writing both the theoretical framework for my PhD and in a more creative style, both of which have been rich in terms of the development of my practice based research.

On being awarded the residency, I applied to visit the Aerofototeca Nazionale di Roma and courtesy of the BSR was able to talk with both the archivist and an aerial photography researcher there, both of whom were fantastically knowledgeable about the history of aerial photography reconnaissance. The library was also a brilliant resource as the content relating to aerial photography in the context of archeology was very relevant. I also visited several museums and ancient sites, in particular Palazzo Altemps to see the vast number of reliefs on display.

image: Aerofototeca Nazionale Archive

image: The Baths of Caracalla

The British School was very welcoming and the bright accommodation with huge studio allowed for a clarity of thinking that I had been lacking in London. The building itself and studios are beautiful and provided me with some welcome thinking and making space. I met with many other researchers, in particular an archaeologist and a history of art scholar whose knowledge and openness to talk in a multidisciplinary setting was really fantastic. I also became friends with the other artists working there, and we shared many provocative and useful conversations about our practices and those of others, recommendations and insights. We held an open studio night and also visited some galleries, historical sites and exhibition openings together. I found the staff at the BSR to be friendly and supportive and nothing was too much trouble. I would most definitely recommend the residency to other practice based research students. It is an amazing opportunity and certainly facilitated a big jump forward in my practice-based research. It gave me opportunities to visit sites and locations that I would otherwise not been able to gain access to. It is a rich, dynamic environment, with people from many backgrounds and disciplines who are enthusiastic about their research topic but also willing to share conversations in a more multidisciplinary setting. It provides space away from the city to think, make and share ideas while still being close to all that Rome has to offer.


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