Category Archives: workshops

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: Black History Month Wikipedia event

Organised by Wikimedia UK and The Equiano Centre, UCL.

Friday 26 October 2012

2pm until 6pm

The presence of Black people in Britain before the Second World War is often neglected in mainstream history. During the interwar period Black people were settled in various places around the country and included a diversity of nationalities and occupations, from dockworkers, domestics, writers, artists, doctors and students. There was also a presence of people of African and Asian heritage based in London during this time who were involved in political activism such as anti-colonial and anti-racism campaigning.

To coincide with Black History Month, Wikimedia UK (a charity supporting Wikipedia) in conjunction with The Equiano Centre, UCL is organising an event on 26 October in London. The event will explore some of these histories and work on adding the information to Wikipedia (including biographies on some of the figures of African and Asian heritage living, travelling or working in Britain at this time).

The event is especially aimed at new Wikipedia editors, who might be intimidated by the job of editing the Internet’s primary source of basic information. Representatives from Wikimedia UK will be on hand to show you how the site works and answer questions.

For more details and to book a place, visit the booking page


Drawing Over the Colour Line with City and Islington College

This gallery contains 10 photos.

As I posted yesterday, we have a pop-up exhibition running this afternoon (28th June) in UCL Art Museum, showing artworks representing individuals of African and Asian heritage and student responses to these artworks in the form of blog postings. This … Continue reading