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


New film: Drawing over the Colour Line’s Lunch Hour Lecture

Caroline Bressey’s 11 October lunch hour lecture on the Drawing over the Colour Line project has now been uploaded onto UCL’s lunch hour lecture page on youtube. Follow this link or watch below

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

New film: London art in the Jazz Age 1919-1939

Visit UCL’s  youtube channel to watch our new short film discussing the project. The film focuses on art and the Black presence in Bloomsbury and highlights some of the artwork created by Slade School of Fine Art students during the interwar period.

Lunch Hour Lecture: Drawing over the colour line: Geographies of art and cosmopolitan politics in London 1919 – 1939

Taking place during Black History Month, please come along to our lunch-time lecture at UCL’s Darwin Lecture Theatre on 11 October. Dr. Caroline Bressey will be discussing the Drawing over the Colour Line project, exploring the role individual Black and Asian actors play in the changing artistic, social, cultural and political scenes that emerged in inter-War London. The lecture is free of charge and if you can’t make it to the venue you can watch it via a live stream. Visit the UCL events site here for more details.

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.


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