Black History Month and the Art Collection

Black History Month has been celebrated in the UK since 1987 and is marked annually throughout October. During the month, we remember, celebrate and explore black history, heritage, culture and achievements. The University and the Students’ Union have organised a variety of free events and activities that are taking place on campus and online.

The remit of Archives and Special Collections includes the University Art Collection, which is currently being audited and catalogued. As a result of this process, some intriguing discoveries are being made, including one that is of relevance to Black History Month.

This is a large and varied group of African objects, including cups and other vessels, which have been found in two cardboard boxes. Most of these are made of carved wood and decorated with striking geometric patterns and appealing images of human and animal figures.

As a limited sample of the continent’s great tradition of crafts, they complement several substantial paintings and sculptures by contemporary Zimbabwean and other African artists in the collection. However, though they were probably created in East Africa during the mid-twentieth century, nothing certain is known of their origin, production or acquisition.

The Archives and Special Collections team would love to know more about these items, and we would be grateful for any information about them, especially the time and place in which they were produced, and for other responses to the photographs.

Please email if you have any suggestions or ideas to help us find out more about these objects.

David Wootton, Art Collection Audit Officer