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Ana Raquel Fernandes

Pan‐Africanist and the first black person to hold civic office in Britain. He was born in Liverpool, the son of a Barbadian, Richard Archer, and an Irishwoman, Mary Theresa Burns, but little is known of his early life, though he is believed to have lived in North America and the West Indies. Around 1898 he and his African‐Canadian wife, Bertha, moved to Battersea, south London, where Archer established a photographic studio. His concern to eradicate social and racial injustices led to a lifelong career in local government and national and global politics. In 1906 he was elected as a Progressive (Liberal) councillor for the Latchmere ward, and in 1913 Archer became Mayor of Battersea, Britain's first black mayor. His interest in colonial politics led to his involvement in Pan‐Africanism. In 1900 he joined the Pan African Association and he was a significant presence at the ...

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Christopher Campbell

London‐born poet, printer, visionary, and ‘prophet against empire’. Over the course of his lifetime Blake confronted the horrors of slavery through his literary and pictorial art. He was able both to counter pro‐slavery propaganda and to complicate typical abolitionist verse and sentiment with a profound and unique exploration of the effects of enslavement and the varied processes of empire.

Blake's poem ‘The Little Black Boy’ from Songs of Innocence (1789 examines the mind forg d manacles of racial constructions in the minds of individuals both in the poem itself in the form of the black child and his white counterpart and also in the minds of those involved in the political dispute over abolition Seeming to explain a desire for racial acceptance and spiritual purity through assimilation into white British society and seeming also to be endorsing conventional assumptions of white racial superiority the poem ...

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David Dabydeen

Renowned figure in the British radical movement during the regency. He was born in Jamaica to the island's Attorney‐General and a local black woman. At 14 he was sent to Glasgow to study law, and later became apprenticed to a lawyer in Liverpool.

Davidson's radical inclinations were formed quite early on in his life and, while still in Scotland, he joined in the public demand for parliamentary reform. After failing to continue his studies, he set up a cabinet‐making business in Birmingham, and taught in a Wesleyan Sunday school. The Peterloo massacre in 1819 incited anger in him and he resumed his radical politics, joining the Marylebone Union Reading Society, which was formed as a result of the massacre. He was introduced to George Edwards, a police spy pretending to be a radical, who recruited Davidson to fellow radical Arthur Thistlewood's groups the Committee of Thirteen and the ...

Article

Jane Poyner

Freed Black slave from British Guiana (now Guyana) who taught the evolutionist Charles Darwin taxidermy. Edmonstone was taken to Glasgow by his slave owner, Charles Edmonstone, probably in 1817. He was taught taxidermy by the explorer, naturalist, and conservationist Charles Waterton, who had travelled extensively in South and North America. Edmonstone moved to Edinburgh in 1823, where he still resided in 1833. He was hired by Darwin, author of The Origin of Species (1859), to teach him taxidermy while Darwin was studying medicine at Edinburgh University. From 1824 to 1825 Edmonstone lived at 37 Lothian Street in close proximity to the university and to Darwin s residence Darwin was an outspoken critic of slavery and had long conversations with Edmonstone about the latter s experiences as a slave and his life in British Guiana These conversations probably helped to shape Darwin s ...

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David Dabydeen

The most prolific painter and engraver of Blacks in 18th‐century British art. They figure in each of his major satirical series, from A Harlot's Progress of 1732 to the Election pictures of the 1750s. They are depicted as prostitutes, lovers, fairground entertainers, strolling actresses, household pets, thieves, and servants, the variety of their occupations suggesting the ubiquity of the black presence in 18th‐century Britain.

The black figure is a detail pregnant with meaning in Hogarth's work, an intricate part of its elaborate narrative structure. Blacks are used to expose the sexual, cultural, and economic corruption of upper‐class life. In pictures like The Four Stages of Cruelty (1750–1 the brutishness of English society is gauged by references to the savage practices of Africans and American Indians Hogarth consciously employs myths about Blacks relating to their sexuality paganism and simian ancestry so as to comment on the morality of the ...

Article

Ian Jones

African‐American scientist and inventor who worked in Britain. Lewis Latimer's parents were Rebecca and George Latimer, fugitive slaves from Virginia who gained their liberty in the free state of Massachusetts, where Lewis was born. Lewis served in the American Civil War (1861–5), after which he worked as an office boy in a patent law firm. His employers soon recognized his talent for drawing and made him head draughtsman. He married Mary Wilson (1848–1937) in 1873 and wrote a poem for his wedding, which he later published in his collection Poems of Love and Life.

When he was 25, Lewis invented an improved toilet for railway carriages, and in 1876Alexander Graham Bell hired him to produce the drawings he needed to patent the telephone. Lewis was later headhunted by the US Electric Lighting Company, and in 1882 was awarded a patent for a ...

Article

Amon Saba Sakaana

Jamaicansculptor working in Britain. Ronald Moody was born on 20 August 1900 in Kingston, Jamaica, the youngest of six children. He attended Calabar College in Jamaica, and, following the aspirations of his family, he chose to study dentistry. He duly arrived in Britain in 1923 and attended King's College London, where he graduated in 1930 and found employment in London as a dentist. His initial fascination with sculpture was expressed through experiments with plasticine; he then graduated to clay, then wood and bronze. His first sculpture in wood was the piece Wohin, expressing his interest in European classical composers. His first public exhibition was at the New Burlington Galleries in a group show in 1935. His primary patron was the Italian director Alberto Cavalcanti, whose contacts with Paris led him to his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Billiet‐Vorms in 1937 The impact was electric among ...

Article

David Dabydeen

Potter and active participant in the fight for the abolition of slavery. Wedgwood was born in Burslem, Stoke‐on‐Trent, the youngest son of Thomas Wedgwood, a potter. From 1787 until his death in 1795, Wedgwood sought to highlight the injustices of slavery and the slave trade. He was politically and socially conscious and was interested in the consequences of the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. His awareness concerning slavery was probably evoked through his friendship with Thomas Bentley, a Liverpool merchant who remained hostile to the trade and refused to welcome slavers back to the port. Another close connection of Wedgwood's was Thomas Clarkson, who set up the Sierra Leone Company, which sought to provide a habitable colony for freed slaves. Wedgwood eventually became a shareholder of the company.

Wedgwood s most significant contribution to the abolitionist cause was the production of a medallion ...

Article

Leon Wainwright

Artist born in British Guiana (now Guyana) who contributed to post‐war British modernism and the anti‐colonial cultural politics of British Guiana, and helped to foster a Caribbean creative community in the United Kingdom.

Williams arrived in Britain in 1952, one of a number of individuals from the West Indies who anticipated a land of opportunity and limitless creative freedom. However, like the sculptor Ronald Moody, who came to Britain from Jamaica, and the painters Denis Williams and Frank Bowling from British Guiana, he met with a somewhat mixed reception. Nevertheless, Williams is historically important given the movement of his art between various parts of (post‐) Empire, and his legacy of distinguished visual work, which has enjoyed increasing recognition since his posthumous retrospective at London's Whitechapel Gallery in 1998.

Williams was educated in Georgetown British Guiana where he took part in a four year agricultural apprenticeship scheme affiliated ...