Projects per year
Dr Harriet Atkinson is a historian of design and culture with a particular interest in the use of design for propaganda, nation-building and diplomacy, from the 1930s to the present day. From February 2019 to January 2023 Harriet is on research leave as AHRC Leadership Fellow and Principal Investigator on the project '"The Materialisation of Persuasion": Modernist Exhibitions in Britain for Propaganda and Resistance, 1933 to 1953'. This builds on her University of Brighton Rising Stars Award (2017-18), for a project entitled 'Information, Persuasion, Citizenship: Public Exhibitions 1914 to now'.
Harriet is interested in supervising PhDs on the history of visual communication for propaganda or protest; government engagements with design, design politics and policy; design as the focus for diplomatic exchange or displays of 'soft power'; relationships between design history and design practice; and the design of exhibitions and displays, particularly beyond museums and galleries.
While AHRC Leadership Fellow, Harriet is in the process of writing a book entitled Modernist Exhibitions in Britain for Propaganda and Resistance, 1933 to 1953 (forthcoming, Manchester University Press). She is co-editing (with Dr Verity Clarkson and Dr Sarah Lichtman) an essay collection entitled Exhibitions and Transnational Exchange: Art and Design, Borders and Boundaries from 1945 (forthcoming, Bloomsbury 2021). She is making a documentary film about Modernist exhibitions in Britain in collaboration with filmmakers Four Corners (for launch in 2022).
While a Faculty Fellow based in the University of Brighton Design Archives from 2010 to 2013, Harriet wrote a number of essays, reviews and her first monograph The Festival of Britain: A Land and its People (I.B. Tauris, 2012). She was section editor for 'design dissemination' for the major, three volume Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Design (lead editor Professor Clive Edwards, 2015) and an interviewer for the oral history of the Design History Society (led by Dr Linda Sandino). Harriet was awarded her doctorate from the Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum's joint history of design programme in 2007. She studied for a BA (Hons) in English and Related Literature with History of Art at University of York and for a MA in Art Museum Studies at the Courtauld Institute, University of London. Harriet is an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Harriet has previously held a number of research awards including an AHRC Doctoral Award, British Academy Small Grant and Wingate Scholarship. She is a member of the Management Board of University of Brighton's Centre for Design History and co-leads the strand on Graphic Design History with Professor Jeremy Aynsley.
From 2015 to 2020 Harriet was Trustee and Research Grants Officer of the Design History Society. She is Advisory Board member for the Bloomsbury Design Library and regularly undertakes peer reviews for journals including Journal of Design History, The Sculpture Journal, Literature & History, Contemporary British History; publishers including Routledge, Bloomsbury Academic, Berg, Palgrave Macmillan, Manchester University Press; academic conferences including DHS, International Conferences on Design History and Studies (ICDHS), Design Research Society (DRS), International Association of Societies of Design Research (IASDR); for academic grant applications + awards including Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, the Icelandic Research Fund and the Belgian Science Policy Office.
Prior to studying for a PhD Harriet worked in cultural policy and funding for a range of public organisations including advising ministers on National Lottery distribution at Department for Culture Media & Sport; assessing grant applications at Heritage Lottery Fund, the Museums & Galleries Commission and Greater London Enterprise; and working as Culture and Regeneration Manager with London local authorities at London Councils. She has also worked as fundraiser with a range of charitable and community organisations including as project manager for Orleans House Gallery's HLF-funded courtyard development education project and as client for Montpelier Community Nursery, which won a 2013 RIBA London Regional Award, a 2013 RIBA National Award and the 2013 RIBA Steven Lawrence Prize (for the best construction project under £1m).
Approach to teaching
Since 2013 Harriet has taught on the University of Brighton's BA (Hons) History of Art & Design programmes (History of Art & Design; Visual Culture; Fashion & Dress History; Philosophy Politics Art), as well as Critical & Cultural Studies to BA (Hons) Graphic Design, BA (Hons) Illustration, BA (Hons) Design and Craft and BA (Hons) Fashion and Textiles. In 2018-19 she was Admissions Tutor for the four History of Art & Design pathways. She has a PGCert in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education and is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. From 2014 to 2016, Harriet taught Cultural Studies to Fashion Textiles and Jewellery second and third year students at Central St Martins, London. From 2016-19 Harriet was External Examiner on the Cert HE and Grad Cert courses in the History of Art & Architecture at Birkbeck College and from 2019-20 she was External Examiner on the BA (Hons) Graphic Communication at University of Reading.
PhD, Royal College of Art
Award Date: 30 Jun 2007
Master, Courtauld Institute of Art
Award Date: 30 Sep 1996
Bachelor, University of York
Award Date: 30 Jun 1994
Fellow, Higher Education Academy, Higher Education Academy, UKJul 2019 → …
External Examiner, University of ReadingJun 2019 → Jun 2020
Elected Fellow, Royal Historical Society, Royal Historical Society2019 → …
External Examiner, Birkbeck University of LondonJul 2016 → Sep 2019
Executive Trustee, Design History Society, Design History Society2015 → 2020
- NC Drawing Design Illustration
- NX Arts in general
- N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
- NA Architecture
Clarkson, V. (ed.), Atkinson, H. & Lichtman, S. (ed.), 2020, (Accepted/In press) Bloomsbury Academic.
Research output: Book/Report › Book - edited
Exhibitions as political ‘demonstrations’? Artists International Association’s For Liberty exhibition, London 1943Atkinson, H., Oct 2020, ICDHS Conference Proceedings 2020.
Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBN › Conference contribution with ISSN or ISBNOpen AccessFile
Review of 'Isokon and the Bauhaus in Britain' by Leyla Daybelge & Magnus Englund, Batsford, 2019 and 'Moholy-Nagy in Britain 1935-1937' by Valeria Carullo, Lund Humphries, 2019.Atkinson, H., Jul 2020, In : Journal of Design History.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Book Review
Exhibitions as political ‘demonstrations’? Artists International Association’s For Liberty exhibition, London 1943
Harriet Atkinson (Presenter)16 Oct 2020
Activity: External talk or presentation › Oral presentation