Category Archives: Events

Exploring Black women’s lives in Britain

The last few months have seen us carry out various events, including workshops on topics relating to interwar art and the Black London presence and a workshop called ‘Exploring black women’s lives in Britain, 1880-1940’. This event was organised in conjunction with Nwakaego Ahaiwe for the We Are Here Black British Feminist Exploration project. At the workshop we discussed and shared historical research on Black women and linked these experiences to our own and others’ experiences and identities as Black women living in Britain today. I talked about the role in art history of Amina Peerbhoy (known as Sunita) and Miriam Patel (known as Anita), two Indian sisters who migrated to Britain in the 1920s, ran a stall at the 1924 Empire exhibition in Wembley and worked as artist models with sculptor Jacob Epstein. Sunita became one of the most celebrated artists’ models of the 1920s and 1930s, but is noticeably absent from much writing on interwar art. As well as drawings, small bronzes, and paintings portraying Sunita and Anita, Epstein modelled his 1927 public sculpture Madonna and Child on Sunita and her son Enver. This sculpture is now housed in the Riverside Church, in New York. Caroline Bressey spoke about her research into black women’s lives in Victorian Britain, highlighting the ways in which visual culture  and archives can be used to uncover previously unknown lives of black people living and working in the imperial metropole. One fascinating story highlighted was that of Victoria Randle and her mother Sarah Davies who were both god-daughters of Queen Victoria with letters and diary entries that form part of the Royal Archives.



The discussion after our talks was stimulating and rewarding.  Lauren Craig, a London-based artist and arts researcher, reflected on the issues and stories raised in the workshop by composing a poem. She has kindly allowed us to share the poem here:


How They Pose

Lauren Craig


In their eyes the hatred rose

In the Rose their connection grows

Emblems of an empire


In their posture: is that satire?

I see their souls, do their eyes show fire?

Expressions of divine creativity

How these ancient beings inspire


Freedom and flare

Life, death desire blurred despair

Survival of lines pencil drawn are rare

Hidden and written out

How they dare!


As we bleed into each other

Colour lines become invisible

We are blinded as we suspend dis-belief

The palette is rich

How vibrant, visual, visceral


With the seeds of strength for the future

That’s how they pose



New event: QBS1 Queer Black Spaces 1

Queer Black Spaces 1 - poster

QBS1 Queer Black Spaces 1

An evening of visual art, poetry and research exploring Black British LGBT histories

UCL Gower Street Campus
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

from 6pm until 9.30pm

£3 entry

For more information and to book a ticket, visit

Join us for an evening showcasing different expressions and histories of Black queer lives, followed by drinks and music. The evening includes poetry, visual art and current research on Black LGBT lives from the early twentieth century to contemporary Britain exploring themes from Black LGBT identities, photography and visual culture, the lives of interwar Black gay artists’ models & Black transgender identities in the early twentieth century.

Participants include:

Ajamu – fine art photographer whose work has been shown in galleries, museums, and alternative spaces worldwide

Caroline Bressey – historical geographer specialising in the black British historical presence and director of The Equiano Centre,  UCL

Alison Oram – Professor of History at Leeds Metropolitan University, specialising in gender and sexuality in twentieth-century Britain

Jay Bernard – award winning poet and first international Resident Writer of The Arts House, Singapore during 2012

Gemma Romain – historian specialising in Black diasporic and Caribbean history, based at The Equiano Centre, UCL

Poulomi Desai, multi-media artist and Artistic Director of Usurp Gallery, London

Nazmia Jamal – teacher, cultural activist and programmer at London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

An event organised by The Equiano Centre, UCL to mark UCL’s 2013 Diversity Month and LGBT History Month.

New Event: London art in the age of jazz – African and Asian portraits & artists in London between the wars

20 October 2012 at Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre

Part of the Bloomsbury Festival & supported by a UCL Beacon Bursary

Drop in between 12 noon and 4pm; entry FREE

•    Bring along your artwork, photos & letters showing portraits of African or Asian people
•    Chat to our experts about how to look after these precious items
•    Find out more about your artwork
•    Please explore your attic and family treasures to help with our research project!

We are tracing how the lives of Black people living in London between the wars were represented in artwork. Join us to explore the lives of artists and models of African and Asian heritage between 1919 and 1939. To help us with our AHRC funded research project, Drawing over the Colour Line, we’d love you to bring any paintings, photos, sculptures, prints or drawings that you have on this theme. We will also have a small photographic studio area where we can take digital photographs of your artwork to include on our image database.

Drop in to the Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre where expert researchers from UCL’s Equiano Centre will chat with you about your art works and photographs. Talk to expert archivists and curators from Camden Archives and UCL to discover how to care for your photos, letters and paintings, and find out more about how they fit into our shared history.

For more information and to contact us, email us at or via the contact page on this blog.

Podcast of ‘The Lone Protestor: Fiona Paisley in conversation with Bernardine Evaristo’

Bernadine Evaristo and Fiona Paisley at the Bishopsgate Institute Library, 14 June 2012

We co-ran an event on Thursday 14th June at the wonderful Bishopsgate Institute Library entitled The Lone Protestor. Fiona Paisley, in conversation with writer Bernadine Evaristo, discussed her new book on the life of Australian Aboriginal activist A.M. Fernando. The discussion touched upon a range of issues and histories relating to Australian Aboriginal history, British imperialism, and the way in which activists such as Fernando opposed British imperialism whilst living in the metropole. Fernando was based in Europe during the inter-war period and lived and worked in London, thus his life story is particularly important for our Drawing over the Colour Line project. Although there is no known artwork representing Fernando, we will be making sure to look out for photographs, drawings or paintings of him during our archival research. In the audience of The Lone Protestor event were members of two families who had employed Fernando during his time in London, including one person who when he was a child knew Fernando. To listen to the podcast of the event, please visit the link here on the UCL Soundcloud page or listen to the embedded podcast on the Equiano Centre website here

Book launch: The Lone Protestor – Fiona Paisley in conversation with Bernardine Evaristo

Fiona Paisley and Bernardine Evaristo discuss Fiona’s new work on the life of Anthony Martin Fernando, an Australian Aboriginal who protested against British imperial rule while he lived and worked in London and Europe during the 1920s and 1930s.

Co-hosted by Aboriginal Studies Press, the Equiano Centre UCL & the Raphael Samuel History Centre, The Lone Protestor takes place at the Bishopsgate Institute Library on Thursday, June 14, 2012 from 6pm to 8.30pm.

This event is free although registration is required for catering numbers. For registration follow this link

For more information, please see the pdf flyer here

Event: Black ephemera – depictions of people of African descent

On 4 July 2012 an all-day symposium run by the Centre for Ephemera Studies at the University of Reading will consider visual representations of people of African heritage. As the flyer states, ‘the study day focuses on the ways in which black people from the African and Caribbean diaspora have been represented in ephemera over the last two hundred years.’ The event will explore different types of ephemera such as sheet music, greetings cards, advertising and postcards and there will be talks from  ‘historians of black culture, ephemerists, and those concerned with racial equality and community relations.’ For more information including contact details and registration costs, see the pdf flyer here: Black ephemera study day

Event: The Image of the Black in Western Art

Harvard University Press and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute’s ‘Image of the Black in Western Art’ publication project  is holding an event at Harvard on 23 April. The event includes a presentation related to volume 5 of the publication series and a discussion with the contributors of the volume.  See here for more details of the event and here for more details of the project.