Since 2010 the Anna Mahler Association has hosted a series of residencies and projects with artists, writers and curators in Spoleto, Umbria, Italy. The programme celebrates Anna Mahler, sculptor daughter of Gustav and Alma, who kept a studio in the town. 

Marina Mahler, Anna’s daughter, invited David Gothard to Spoleto in 2009 to explore its  creative opportunities. In 2010 he invited a group of artists and Guy Robertson, who became the Association’s curator, to explore the town in a series of residencies. Anna’s studio is adjacent to the studio of conceptual artist Sol LeWitt and subsequently the LeWitt family became involved in the residencies. As of 2015 the residency programme is organised by the Mahler and LeWitt Studios.

The Anna Mahler Association continues to support projects with its affiliated artists and is a vital partner of the residency programme.







Guy Gormley

Publication, 2012 | Residency, 2013

In 2012 we supported the publication of Guy Gormley’s artist book Jack Follow. In 2013 he was subsequently invited to Spoleto.

Born London, England 1985, Gormley studied at Central St. Martins, Brighton Univeristy and completed a BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College of Art in 2009. He works primarily with photography and music. His DJ name is Enchante and he co-founded the club night and record lable Top Nice. He also runs the curatorial platform Brickhouse with Thomas Bush. He has produced three artists books and a collaborative publication with the poet Rachel Allen. He exhibits regularly in the Uk and abroad.

Artist Website | Brickhouse | Top Nice

Above: a spread from Jack Follow. 

The images were produced during a trip to Unst in the Shetland Islands, the most Northerly point of the U.K. The book is in three sections, each one a narrative consisting of a continuous run of images taken over a few minutes, these function in a similar way to film stills, describing periods of time. The sections are prefaced by the file names, which contain the date and times they were made.

Jack Follow is a hand made book designed by Thomas Bush. It was made in an edition of 100 and is staple bound. The cover is rubber-stamped with a bitmap image.

The book can be purchased here.


During his residency Gormley, informed by his time in the LeWitt Studio, began making objects.

His conversations with young people in Spoleto led him to stage live events combining photography, sculpture and music in social contexts, making use of derelict spaces in the town.

In his first event, 7.9.13, Gormley blocked out the vaulted medieval ceiling of a disused brewery in the old town of Spoleto. He erected a makeshift cardboard roof and showed photographs looping on a tv of the outskirts of Spoleto’s new town.

Read the conversation below between the artist and residency curator Guy Robertson.

GUY ROBERTSON / GUY GORMLEY – Conversation, Spoleto, September 2013. 

GR Was it an event an installation or a party?

GG I always called it an event. It’s neutral. ‘Party’ feels different, its more specific – for fun and social stuff. An event could be a party but it could also be a lecture or something.

GR In one room there were photographs looping on a television screen and there was a lowered ceiling made out of cardboard. The room you were using for this event actually had one of those typical Spoletan vaulted ceilings.

GG Yes. Lowering the ceiling was about taking ownership of that architecture, which you see everywhere in Spoleto: ignoring it or blocking it out somehow. I think that’s how people read it: covering up the things that people often treat with the most importance – which is the history of a place. But history is one of the things, in Spoleto, that seems to get in the way of doing stuff.

GR And its more easily felt in a town which is so steeped in its own history – with history comes people who are empowered by that history and people who aren’t. As a country Italy has one of the richest cultural heritages in the world.

GG Did you know that in Rome they want to expand the Metro, but they can’t because of all the ruins – they can’t dig any tunnels – so the city is in a kind of cage. And that’s the capital. It feels like an allegory for the country itself.

GR The photographs on the television screen were playing on a loop on a TV with its back to you as you walked into the room. Each one of the pictures was being panned across. What did they depict?

GG Well, this guy who came to the event was saying that the pictures I’d taken were of a suburb of Spoleto where the land in dispute. He said that after the earthquake in ’97 the council had given all the building contracts to Neapolitan companies through some Gomorrah connection. The local people had been up in arms about it and as some sort of apology the council had given them this area of Spoleto to develop without any controls. So they’d done quite a lot of crap stuff, I think, and so that’s why the area looked funny and that’s probably why I’d photographed it.

GR I suppose in the same way that with the lowered roof you were denying the natural heritage of the building you worked in, the photographs were looking at an area of Spoleto which isn’t normally looked at; its not the Aqueduct, its not the Amphitheatre, its not La Rocca: the spaces which are known, which if you’re passing through Spoleto as a tourist you might photograph. It ties into discussions we’ve been having about the sense you get of young people feeling disempowered.

GG Our friend Tommaso was saying that anything that gets young people up here is good. He’s quite passionate about it because he’s someone who has stayed in Spoleto whereas a lot of his friends have left.

GR As well as making your own work you put on events in London, curating with Brickhouse and hosting the club night Top Nice: so to you its kind of natural to go out and put on events. Was your impetus to do an event here in Spoleto to show that, look, you can do this kind of thing?

GG Maybe yeah, part of it, but its lots of things happening at once. I wanted to try and cause a few conversations so I activated the bar, or added tension, by two interventions: firstly this video of CCTV-like footage which presented Spoleto as a place with problems, as a paranoid place. I didn’t really know what the problems were but by presenting it as such you make people think about what the problems might be. Secondly, by covering the ceiling and bringing it down to a claustrophobic or oppressive height. So you have this sort of social open place but with these things which would gear conversation a certain way.

GR What about the music?

GG The music was all Italian post-punk from the early eighties. It is really good but disaffected, disenchanted music. I feel like the young people in Spoleto don’t have a space to exchange songs, you know; you need a scene to have things happen – there’s no point saying something if no one listens.

GR What were your responses on the night from locals who came?

GG I was really wary of pushing any politics because I’m under informed; brand new to the place. But the points that were being suggested, I wouldn’t say made, we’re relevant and people really engaged with it.

In the final live event of his residency Gormley, in a disused recording studio with a makeshift bar and sound system, incorporated the sculptures he had been making in the LeWitt Studio with his own photographs as well as those taken by local artists.

A description of the Club 68 event by the residency curator:

After dinner we went to the old ‘Cantina’ – the disused space on Via Brignone where there used to be a recording studio. It is underneath the Sol LeWitt studio. Guy Gormley hosted an event there called Club ’68. He wanted to provoke questions about youth engagement in Spoleto – to set a scene which would encourage conversation. He closed off the glass walled rooms where the musicians would have sat to record instruments, and posted up photographs on the glass. Half of the photographs were his own, depicting friends or everyday scenes, and the other half he had found in Spoleto, many from the newsfeed of a local persons Facebook account who he had become friends with. Behind the closed glass doors was an arrangement of concrete sculptures which he had been making – some looked a bit like rubble, but more purposeful, in unusual shapes. Others were amorphous, like busts but lacking a specific identity. It reminded me of looking through the glass floors you find in Spoleto, in the library or the pharmacy, at bits of Roman remains, a comparison I know Guy had intended. The music that he played was Italian New Wave, precursor to mainstream Club music and politicised in its own way. There was a bar in the space and people talked with increasing liveliness about the work. The sculptures and photographs could be intimately viewed with handheld lights (some people found pictures of themselves in the installation). We had flyered the event the evenings previously, particularly in the busy Piazza Garibaldi, and we had kept in contact with the young people we were meeting throughout the month – as a result we had a good turn out.

Guy Robertson, extract from residency diary notes

Michele Drascek

Residency, 2013 | Exhibition projects, 2015 ongoing

Michele Drascek is an Italian curator. He began research, now ongoing, with art historical libraries and archives in Spoleto including those of Casa Mahler.

Drascek had worked with David Gothard in 2012, using parts of his archive for Neue Slowenische Kunst 1984-1992 at Chelsea Space in collaboration with Tate Modern and Calvert 22, London.

Born Gorizia, Italy 1974, Drascek graduated at the Department of Educational Sciences, University of Trieste and holds a MA in Curating at Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London. He has collaborated with several institutions: Contemporary Art Centre Villa Manin, Cittadellarte Michelangelo Pistoletto Foundation, Observatory on the Balkans, Palazzo Chigi in Ariccia (Italy); Moderna Galerija and SCCA Center for Contemporary Art (Slovenia); Stacion Center for Contemporary Art (Kosovo); Chelsea Space, Tate Modern, Flat Time House and Royal College of Art (UK); FLACSO Latin American Faculty on Social Studies (Ecuador); Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation (New York, USA). Curator of David Gothard Archives Collection (London, Gorizia) and now Chief Curator of Projects of The Marignoli di Montecorona Foundation (Spoleto), he is member of IKT International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art and of Europeana Network . His recent research includes organizing and exhibiting archives. His most recent commission is as curator of the Slovenian Pavilion at the 56th edition of La Biennale di Venezia.

Whilst cataloguing the Casa Mahler libraries Drascek came across a rare group of Oskar Kokoschka prints. He is now developing plans for their exhibition.

Drascek writes, “I spent a month in Casa Mahler in Spoleto where my research was primarily focussed on the library and discovering its content, step by step. An important portion of the library is dedicated to music and art, both in terms of literature and essays. My research became deeply involved in discovering the cultural scene in Vienna between the end of the 19th and the start of 20th Century. In particular, biographies on Gustav Mahler, diaries by Alma Mahler, and books by Franz Werfel. Unfolding the content of the library floor by floor, I started to concentrate my attention on art history books related to this period. Soon I discovered a large portfolio, protected by a book of similar dimensions. Within it I made a surprising discovery: ‘Oskar Kokoschka Zeichnungen’ is a collection of original prints by Oskar Kokoschka printed and produced by Der Sturm for the 13 April 1912 Issue. It brings together the prints that the artist produced as covers for several issues of the Der Sturm Review. It is an original, in very good condition and with all its prints intact. It includes portraits of Adolf Loos and Herwarth Walden amongst others.

This publication is significant not only for the relevance of Der Sturm in art history but more generally for the cultural period in which it was produced – relating to the Viennese cultural scene at the start of 20th Century before World War I. Moreover, it is significant for the design of the book itself and the quality of the prints.

Right: Paul Scheebert by Oskar Kokoschka,
from the ‘Zeichnungen’ album, 1912

He also initiated a project to produce a re-edited edition of Bruno Toscano’s celebrated 1963 art historical book on Spoleto and its environs Spoleto in pietre. Guida artistica della città.

In 2014, as a result of developing these projects, Drascek was elected Chief Curator of Projects at The Marignoli di Montecorona Foundation, Spoleto. Its focus is primarily on Italian art from the 16th to the 19th century, with special attention to Umbria and Central Italy. The mission is to enhance and disseminate studies and projects on Italian art and culture, and beyond.

Marignoli logo cropped

Image: Paul-Émile Colin, View of Spoleto, 1920
Marignoli Collection

Tom Barnett

Residency, 2013

During his residency with the Anna Mahler Association Tom Barnett explored his creative relationship to his performance persona Colden Drystone. He developed a series of video works and performances which took Spoleto and its environs as their setting.

Tom Barnett, born London, England 1984, studied painting at Chelsea college of Art and Design. Through performance, drawing, painting, video and installation his practice broadly investigates creativity and its relationship with human behaviour. He is represented by Hannah Barry Gallery, London which hosted his most recent solo exhibition The Beautiful Game. Recent performances took place at the Victoria & Albert museum, London, as part of the Peckham Takeover, at the closing event for the Copeland Book Market 2013, London, and at the opening night of Art Brussels 2013, Brussels. He was Artist in Residence (2013-14) at Girton College, Cambridge.

Artist Website | Colden Drystone Soundcloud | Hannah Barry Gallery

As well as these three video works Barnett made two new live performances  called Melodia and Residency. They are described here in his own words and illustrated in the slideshow above. 

Melodia – Saturday August 31st 2013

Using the four walls and slab stone floor of the courtyard outside the old Sol LeWitt studio in Spoleto Colden Drystone made a 20 minute performance with amplified, loop pedal vocals, a large wooden staff and surrounding objects for percussion, three pieces of paper, an oil bar, gold pigment and a ladder all lit by candle light. He was dressed in a white three piece suit with bare feet and with a stripe of gold leaf across his forehead. After constructing and looping a beat he began to sing. Running through the entire performance was a phrase written the previous day using mono prints that read “make melodies with lines, draw rhythms in space” and which Colden looped and harmonised over the top of a second more rhythmic phrase that read “something to respond to”. Once the initial beats and loops had been established and the melodies had been expressed, Colden wrote a word across the three pieces of paper using a clear coloured oil bar. He then sprinkled gold pigment over the papers, blew the excess pigment away and revealed the word Melodia written in gold. With the looped vocal phrases and simple beat still playing he then exited the courtyard carrying the written word into the quiet street outside. Climbing a ladder he slowly attached the three pieces of paper to some clips that had previously been installed into the upper third of a stone wall. With the golden word Melodia now hanging seven feet above the ground and gently moving in the open air Colden returned to the microphone and loop pedal where he then developed the initial vocal ideas into a wash of extended harmonies and textures. Finally the sound was taken back to its starting point with the beat and the phrase “something to respond to” looping over and over. Colden erased the beat leaving only the phrase as his accompaniment while he quickly moved around the courtyard blowing out the candles one by one. When only one candle remained he crouched above the flame and let the phrase about response play one more time before deleting it, blowing out the light and leaving the courtyard. End.

Residency – Saturday September 21st 2013 

Starting out in the same building that was the location for his Melodia performance Colden entered the courtyard, again dressed in his suit and with gold leaf across his forehead. He was carrying a gold rock in his hands. He exited the courtyard and lead the crowd of onlookers down the hill, through the square and down a side street to a second location where various props had been installed as material for the performance. In the first of two rooms were three TVs, three amplifiers, a dictaphone, a loop pedal, a snare drum, 40 mono prints in a grid and a piece of coloured silk lying in the centre of the room. Colden placed the golden rock onto this piece of silk and looped a beat using electronic bass drum samples.He then sang through the entire grid of 40 mono prints. Each contained a word or phrase written during his time in Spoleto. The 40 sung sheets then looped behind Colden as he sung them again. During this second recital of the texts Colden gradually turned on the TVs, one by one, to reveal short looped films with audio. The films all featured Colden either speaking, singing or shouting whilst out on a walk across the hills around Spoleto and the audio of each film now joined the audio of Colden’s looped singing gradually filling the space. When Colden pressed play on the dictaphone a third source of vocals was added to this score. The recorded voice discussed the conundrum of Colden wishing that all his work could be experienced first hand by an audience, in real time. After a time the loop was simplified, the TVs were muted leaving them just providing visuals. The dictaphone vocals were given centre stage. Around this talking audio Colden begin to create a more structured and contemporary loop that included a sub bass line, synth chords and a full array of samples from house and techno drum pads. Over the top of this he began to improvise rhythms on the snare drum before including some of these into the loop. All other audio was erased leaving only the new beat-led loop. Part two of the performance now started. Colden spoke a sentence into the new loop that read “this work is…”. He then sung the word Awesome adding this to the loop too. Colden then left the loop and ran into a second room. The room was empty apart from a ladder against the wall and one spot light. He turned on the light and scaled the ladder. Writing with a thick stick of graphite he wrote the word Awesome onto the white wall. As soon as he had written it he took up a can of gold spray paint and painted a line through the word, crossing it out. Coming back down the ladder he ran back into the first room, deleted the word Awesome from the loop and added a second word Bombastic. Once that word was ringing out in the recorded loop he ran back into the second room and repeated the process of writing the word on the wall before crossing it out with gold. Colden ran back and forth between the rooms deleting and adding adjectives until the wall contained 26 crossed out words, one for each letter of the alphabet. The letter X was the only non-word to be included and remained unspoilt with no gold line running through it. Once the words were all written on the wall Colden returned to the loop pedal and deleted all traces of the loop except for the repeated phrase “this work is…”. Over this he gently sung “everything and nothing”. He gradually faded out the audio from the pedal until only his own live voice could be heard singing “everything and nothing”. Continuing to sing this Colden walked out of the building back through the streets of Spoleto and out of sight.

Finally he made a short film called Climbing Castel Monte. It was screened in the Anna Mahler Studio at the end of his residency. Later he and the residency curator Guy Robertson turned the film into a book. The full film can be viewed by following this link.

Climbing Castel Monte

The publication ‘Climbing Castel Monte’ can be purchased at the following link:

Published by Guy


Florence Judd

Residency, 2013

Florence Judd, a sculptor based in London, worked with local artist Tommaso Faraci and Umbrian ceramicists on several new works.

Born Shoreham by Sea (West Sussex), England 1983, Judd gained a BA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. Her practice explores ideas of weight, tension and placement. She creates structures and spatial drawings using multiple units made up of painted slabs. Her most recent exhibition was held at Son Gallery in London and was titled Wall Sculpture. Since her residency she has started developing her practice in the direction of ceramic making.

Judd found a new way of making site-specific preparatory sketches. A series of these drawings were included in an exhibition at the end of her residency: