Black Bloomsbury

23 September - 13 December 2013

Black Bloomsbury image
‘Life Painting’, Slade School of Fine Art. George Konig, Keystone Press Agency.
‘Life Painting’, Slade School of Fine Art. George Konig, Keystone Press Agency.

The Black Bloomsbury exhibition highlighted and explored the history of the black presence in Bloomsbury between 1918 and 1948, emphasizing themes of geographical spaces, migration, race and political struggle.

It featured art works from UCL Art Museum's collection, including Portrait of a Young Woman by Winifred Knights, alongside archival documents from the Slade, UCL Special Collections and UCL Record Office.

Based on research carried out as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council - funded project Drawing over the Colour Line: Geographies of art and cosmopolitan politics in London, 1919 – 1939, the exhibition explored and documents the black presence in Bloomsbury from 1918 to 1948. It highlights the geographies of the Black Bloomsbury presence, and interwar politics, including anti-colonial and anti-racist activism.

The exhibition presented paintings, drawings and archival documents from UCL, highlighting how this Black presence was represented in the artworks of Slade students, and also how it interacted with London's artworld, through records relating to art students from Africa and Asia based at the Slade.

The exhibition was co-curated by Dr Gemma Romain and Dr Caroline Bressey of the Equiano Centre.

For more information please see blog posts relating to the project on the UCL Museums and Collections blog and research blog.

The project went on to inform a Black Modernism follow-on funding project by the researchers which resulted in the exhibition Spaces of Black Modernism: London 1919-39 at the Tate, to which the museum loaned three paintings.