Postcards and Bloomsbury black history walking tour leaflets

We’ve recently created the first of a series of postcards and maps highlighting some of the artwork and histories which touch upon the themes of Drawing over the Colour Line. The postcard created is a reproduction of William Roberts’ 1923 The Creole, a portrait of a woman called Hélène Yelin who lived near Bloomsbury and was a friend of the Roberts  family – we’ll be blogging more about her in the next few months. We’ve also used this image as the front of our new walking tour leaflets entitled ‘A Walk Around Bloomsbury’.

The tour explores the black presence in Bloomsbury during 1919-1939 in relation to London’s artworld and focuses on places and spaces connected to individuals and organisations including African-American musician and performer Florence Mills, artists Nina Hamnett and Duncan Grant who created artworks depicting Black Londoners, Harold Moody, Jamaican doctor and President of the League of Coloured Peoples set up in 1931 to combat racism in Britain and promote racial harmony, and the Student Movement House at 32 Russell Square which was set up in 1917 to provide accommodation to support to students from across the world. It also highlights sites of significance such as the British Museum, where writers and artists of African and Asian heritage including Jamaican sculptor Ronald Moody and Indian writer Mulk Raj Anand visited to explore artworks and to research in the reading rooms.

Waterstones Piccadilly branch has kindly created a display of these maps and postcards, which you can see in the images below. If you would like a copy of either, please drop into the branch. Alternatively, please contact us by using the contact form on the blog or by emailing and we will send one out to you in the post.

With thanks to the William Roberts Society for copyright approval for reproducing Roberts’ The Creole and to The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent Museums where the artwork is permanently on display for permission to use their digital image of the portrait.

Note – This post was updated on 25.02.2013

One response to “Postcards and Bloomsbury black history walking tour leaflets

  1. Reblogged this on Camara Dia Holloway and commented:
    This is an topic that I am very intrigued by. I am familiar with a couple of black entertainers that spent time in London during the Jazz Age (i.e. Paul Robeson, Florence Mills…) but I had not previously come across research on blacks who were members of the Commonwealth who lived in London during this period in the manner that Black Paris and the Negro Colony is discussed. Of course we have learned that black jazz entertainers circulated throughout Europe but that information is elusive at best. So I hope that this project endures and flourishes.

    Of course if a lot of information were available I would want to include it in my book and I already have too much information to contend with dealing with New York, and its satellite in Paris (with a bit of a detour to Hollywood, and even Taos…)

    Nancy Cunard is the main figure of English origin included in my dramatis personae but she spends most of this time based in Paris. I am trying to restrict myself to the Man Ray portraits of her but there are some important photographs by Cecil Beaton and Curtis Moffat that will require a mention. I justify their inclusion because of the network of fashion/celebrity/glamour photographers that Man Ray is part a of, with an obligatory connection to Carlo (Carl Van Vechten–he knows everyone LITERALLY).

    Anna May Wong spends time in London but it is the portraits taken by Carlo and her Hollywood experiences that are most concern to me. (At present…)

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