A black and white photograph showing beer-pump handles exhibited at the exhibition Black Eyes and Lemonade at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1951.

Beer-pump handles exhibited at the Black Eyes and Lemonade exhibition, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1951.

‘To hell with culture’ is a phrase borrowed from Eric Gill and employed by Herbert Read to open – as well as to entitle – his important essay of 1941 on culture and democracy. It is a theme that will be explored as part of a two-day conference ‘Victorian Futures: Culture and Democracy from the Reform Act to Olympicopolis’ to be held on 14-15 May at Chelsea College of Arts.

University of Brighton speakers include Professor Catherine Moriarty and Dr Harriet Atkinson whose presentations will draw on their research that engages with the holdings of the University of Brighton Design Archives in related but rather different ways. Moving from early nineteenth-century ambitions to educate the eyes of the people, to mid twentieth-century design reform and interest in popular art, and on to current cultural regeneration plans for the former Olympic site at Stratford, the event promises to provoke timely discussion about what a ‘Victorian Future’ might really mean.

Harriet Atkinson teaches history of art and design, critical and cultural studies. She has been lecturing at the University of Brighton since September 2013. Prior to this she was Faculty Fellow based in the University of Brighton Design Archives (2010-13), her book The Festival of Britain: A Land and its People was published by I.B. Tauris in 2012.

Professor Catherine Moriarty is Curatorial Director of the University of Brighton Design Archives. She is currently Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded project ‘Exploring British Design’ which is looking at how technology can be used to disrupt conventions of monographic and archival structures.