The Equiano Centre


Drawing over the Colour Line database

The Project: This database holds information on artists, the names of artworks and sitters whose work and experiences formed part of the research undertaken for the project Drawing Over the Colour Line: Geographies of art and cosmopolitan politics in London 1919 - 1939 (AH/I027371/1), based at The Equiano Centre, Department of Geography, UCL from 2012 - 2014. The project and database research was carried out by Dr. Caroline Bressey and Dr. Gemma Romain. The project examined the influence of the Harlem Renaissance upon Inter-War London which 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. Examining the archives of art collections as well as personal papers, autobiographies and memoirs, this project explored the lives of men and women of the African and Asian diasporas who worked as artists and artists models in London between 1919 and 1939 and examined the role they played in the changing artistic, social, cultural and political scenes that emerged in Inter-War London.

For more about the project, details of the public programmes and research outputs visit the projects blog via our DOCL project page, and our associated projects on African Sculpture with the Petrie Museum which includes an online education resource and Black Bloomsbury with UCL Art Museum. You can also view the webpages for our follow-on funding project Spaces of Black Modernism (AH/M003469/1) which included a spotlight display at Tate Britain.


What you can find on the database: The database contains over 500 entries, primarily information organized in three main sections: artists, sitters and artworks. Artists include African and Asian diaspora artists who lived, studied or worked in Inter-War London as well as white artists who depicted Black people or had personal relationships with Black artists or Sitters. Sitters include men and women of African and Asian descent who appear in artworks made or exhibited in Inter-War London.

Due to copyright restrictions there are no images of artworks available on the database, but where an online image is available a URL link is provided. If no URL is available then a reference is provided for the information (eg from The Studio magazine, 1936).

How to use the database: You can search the database by the name of an artist (eg;'Winifred Knights'), or by the name of a sitter (eg Sunita), or by a key word which may be a name (eg Patrick Nelson) or a keyword (eg Black). You may also search by place (eg Chelsea). The information available about locations varies, sometimes it references a place (eg Bloomsbury), in other entries when the specific address of an artists' studio or the home or an artists' model was known this will be given. If you know the name of an artwork (eg Sunita reclining), you can also search by artwork title.

Spotlight on Sitters.

Follow this link for some spotlights on sitters.