Drawing Over the Colour Line

Geographies of art and cosmopolitan politics in London 1919 - 1939


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 the city is not yet 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.

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The research is funded by the AHRC - Award Reference AH/I027371/1