A Fusion of Worlds: Ancient Egypt, African Art and Identity in Modernist Britain
21 January Launch of Equiano Centre - Petrie Museum collaboration
Between 11 March and 24 May 2014, there will be an exhibition by The Equiano Centre in collaboration with the Petrie Museum exploring the ways in which modernist artists – Jacob Epstein, Edna Manley and Ronald Moody – were inspired by Ancient Egypt.
The exhibition will place these artists’ reworking of Egyptian art in the context of their political, spiritual and gendered expressions of identity. Drawing on the influence of the Harlem Renaissance and the ‘discovery’ of African Art, the display will also seek to reposition the work of artists such as Jamaican born Ronald Moody in the public memory.
Before this, a programme of public events will begin on Tuesday 21 January (12.00-12.45) in the UCL Art Museum, South Cloisters, with Egypt Awakened: The Petrie Pops Up at UCL Art Museum. The first half of this talk will considers Egyptian Students who attended the Slade School of Art, with a focus on the interwar period and modernist artists in Egypt, such as Mahmoud Mohktar. The talk will finish with the rise of Egyptian nationalism and expression of identity, which Mohktar famously reflected, and how this led to a change in the way antiquities were excavated by foreign archaeologists, including Petrie.
On Wednesday 26 February, from 2-4pm, there will also be a Modernist Sculpture Walk: . Egypt in London. This will start at the Carreras ‘Black Cat’ building in Mornington Crescent, with a discussion of the popular image of Egypt in the 1920s. Then the tube and/or walking will take us to Jacob Epstein’s public sculpture in outdoor spaces in London. These include Rima in Hyde Park, Day and Night in Westminster, and the mutilated fragments of Night and Day on Zimbabwe House (formerly the British Medical Association HQ) , which were ferociously criticised by archaeologist Flinders Petrie. The walk will also be linked to the A Fusion of Worlds: Ancient Egypt, African Art and Identity in Modernist Britain exhibition.
Further public events during the exhibition will include:
Saturday 15 March 3pm: Edna Manley: Gallery Talk by Gemma Romain: To mark International Women’s Day, Gemma will talk about Jamaican sculptor Edna Manley, whose work responded to living in colonial Jamaica, witnessing the struggles for nationhood and independence from Britain. Influenced by African art, including that of Ancient Egypt, Manley created sculptures representing the diversity of Jamaican life and struggles.
Wednesday 9 April 6-8pm: Meet the Curators - A Fusion of Worlds: Ancient Egypt, African Art and Identity in Modernist Britain. Gemma Romain, Debbie Challis and members of the group involved in putting on the A Fusion of Worlds exhibition will be on hand to talk about the reappraisal of Egyptian sculpture during the early 20th Century.
The exhibition is co-curated by Debbie Challis and Gemma Romain in conjunction with a team of community participants. It is funded by UCL Grand Challenges: Intercultural Interaction as a joint initiative between The Equiano Centre, UCL Geography, and the Petrie Museum, UCL
- Jacob Epstein:
Figurine of fine red pottery; Badari. UC9601, Petrie Museum. Image copyright Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology