The Equiano Centre


Ideas of African Sculpture in archaeology and art in modern Britain: Jacob Epstein, Flinders Petrie, Ronald Moody and Edna Manley

This project explored the different ways in which Egyptian sculpture has influenced twentieth century modernist artists in Britain. The project was led by Dr Gemma Romain, The Equiano Centre, UCL and Dr Debbie Challis, Petrie Museum, UCL and was funded by a UCL Grand Challenge Intercultural Interaction small grant. Additional collaborators were: Nwakaego Ahaiwe, UCL MA Archives and Records Management student and cultural and community heritage worker; Dr. Caroline Bressey, The Equiano Centre, Department of Geography, UCL; and Robert Eagle, Multimedia Producer, UCL Communications and Marketing.

The project explored themes such as: how African sculpture was understood in the British artworld of the first half of the twentieth century, imperialism, anti-imperialism and African sculpture; how artists of African-Caribbean heritage were influenced by Egyptian sculpture; African-American Harlem Renaissance artists and thinkers and the influence of Egyptian sculpture; and the role of archaeologists such as Flinders Petrie in shaping the understanding of Egyptian sculpture in modern Britain.

The project ran two workshops where we looked at ancient Egyptian artefacts and explored this sculpture alongside photographs of modern sculptures and we also visited public sculptures around London. These workshops led to the creation of an exhibition 'A Fusion of Worlds: Ancient Egypt, African Art and Identity in Modernist Britain' displayed at the Petrie Museum during Spring 2014. An educational resource from this exhibition has been created.