Centre for Design History researcher Dr Harriet Atkinson has been awarded a prestigious Leadership Fellowship by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. During the project, entitled “The Materialisation of Persuasion”: Modernist Exhibitions in Britain for Propaganda and Resistance, 1933 to 1953, Harriet will investigate how exhibitions mounted in British public spaces, from workers’ canteens to church halls were designed to communicate messages of propaganda and resistance. This research will connect propaganda exhibitions held across a range of locations around and beyond Britain during these decades and mounted by an extended network of designers including FHK Henrion and Misha Black. This project builds on Harriet’s AHRC-funded doctoral research into the exhibitions of the nationwide Festival of Britain (published as The Festival of Britain: A Land and its People by I.B. Tauris in 2012). It has developed through conversations with her students in Graphic Design and Illustration and History of Art & Design about socially- and politically-engaged design practices.


Harriet submitted the application during a period of University of Brighton Rising Stars-funded research leave in autumn 2017 and will be on leave from February 2019 to January 2023. During the project she will carry out extensive archival work, including research at Tate, Imperial War Museum, The Keep and at the University’s internationally significant Design Archives at Grand Parade. She will write a monograph, co-edit an essay collection and collaborate with London-based filmmakers Four Corners to make a documentary film. After the project launch on 1st February 2019, the Centre for Design History will host a project webpage, where Harriet will post news and updates.


Image caption and credit: For Liberty exhibition, 1943, FHK Henrion Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives, by courtesy of the Henrion estate.