Offered every two years, the Photoworks Fellowship at the British School at Rome is designed to give mid-career photographers an opportunity to undergo a period of studio-based research free from the pressures and interruptions of their normal working life. It is also a chance for them to absorb and be inspired by the particular environment of the School and the city of Rome.
David Spero (b.1963, London) graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1993 and since then has developed a number of highly distinctive bodies of work that distill various traditions and approaches, from photojournalism to photo-sculpture, into a rich, multi-faceted practice.
David spent three months in Rome, from April to June 2009, developing his work in the unique setting and atmosphere of this long established and highly regarded research centre for the humanities, visual art and architecture.
David’s work, overall, maintains a quiet and contemplative enquiry, whether revealing the structures and lifestyles of ecological communities in his Settlements series, or while making us look again at the most prosaic urban architecture appropriated for places of worship, as carefully documented in his work Churches.
But perhaps the work that most reveals his reflective intelligence are the pictures he calls his Ball Photographs, interiors bathed in warm natural light that are spatially transformed by the placement of coloured balls, and more recently by connecting wooden strips and lines of magnetic tape. These temporary ‘sculptures’, that playfully suggest the mapping of domestic constellations, articulate a process of thought and physical interaction, a thinking into the photograph, that encourages in turn a slower, prolonged way of looking and ‘reading’ across the image. It is this work that formed the focus of David’s research in Rome, both in his studio at the British School and then, in specific buildings within the city.
To coincide with his Photoworks Fellowship at the British School at Rome, David Spero exhibited a selection of works from his series Churches as part of the FotoGrafia 2009 festival of photography in Rome from 15 May to 6 June 2009.