Drawing over the Colour Line is a new project starting January 2012, run in the UCL Geography Department by a team of researchers from UCL’s Equiano Centre. We have been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council to carry out a project over the next two years looking at the experience and identities of black people in Britain during the inter-war period, exploring their relationship with the art world.
The influence of the Harlem Renaissance – when African-Americans created a revolution in music, art and literature in New York- has become an important element in understanding cultural, social and political change in New York, as well as in European cities such as Paris and Amsterdam in the 1920s and 1930s.
Like New York and Paris interwar London played host to the meetings of many intellectuals, students and workers in the realms of anti-colonial, nationalist and Pan-African politics, to name just a few examples. The extent to which the Black and Asian actors who initiated these political and social debates influenced new artistic practices and forms in London is not yet fully understood.
Examining the archives of art collections as well as personal papers, autobiographies and memoirs, this project will recover the lives of Black and Asian men and women who worked as artists and artists models in London between 1919 and 1939 and seeks to understand the role they played in the changing artistic, social, cultural and political scenes that emerged in Inter-War London.
As well as exploring these identities we will be creating a freely accessible database of details of the artworks created which represent Black people and those created by Black people based in Britain during this time. The project will seek to document as well as try to locate these pieces of artwork, some which have been preserved in galleries and museums, but many others which are in private collections or have not yet been located.
On this blog we will post updates on some of the many stories and images we come across in our research, as well as post information about any related topics and events.
We intend to occasionally post images of artwork relating to the research. We fully respect the rights of copyright holders and will make every effort to obtain permission to reproduce copyright material and to ensure credits are correct. This may not be possible if details of the artist remains unknown. If you have any information on the images on display do please get in touch with us.
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