The Equiano Centre


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 explored the lives of Black and Asian men and women 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.

A Walk Around Bloomsbury

A Walk Around Soho leaflet

The project resulted in a range of activities and outcomes, including walking tour maps (see images above), public events including the Black Bloomsbury exhibition and public programme with UCL Art Museum, a project blog, a Black Modernism follow-on funding project, and our Drawing over the Colour Line database.

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