The design and cultural imagination of the Festival of Britain was the focus of Harriet’s doctoral research in History of Design, carried out at the Royal College of Art/ Victoria & Albert Museum, awarded 2007, funded by a full-time AHRC grant and a Wingate Scholarship. This project was supervised by Professor Jeremy Aynsley and Professor David Crowley and examined by Professor Barry Curtis and Professor David Matless. While Faculty Fellow based in the University of Brighton Design Archives (2010-2013), Harriet published the research as The Festival of Britain: A Land and its People (London: I.B. Tauris, 2012) in three formats (hardback, paperback and as an e-version), as well as the chapter: ‘”The First Modern Townscape”?’ in John Pendlebury, Erdem Erten & Peter Larkham (eds), Alternative Visions of Post-War Reconstruction: Creating the Modern Townscape (London: Routledge, 2014).
Since 2004, Harriet has regularly been invited to talk on the design, meaning and legacy of the Festival of Britain and its place in postwar culture, both at academic conferences (in Cambridge, Edinburgh, Washington, Berkeley, Belfast and beyond) and at public events. She was invited by Southbank Centre to organise the major sixtieth Festival of Britain anniversary event at the Royal Festival Hall, marking the last day of Southbank Centre’s Festival commemorations, held in September 2011, bringing together all living Festival designers and historians of the period to assess the Festival’s legacy six decades on. Alongside this, Harriet was curatorial consultant for the Southbank Centre’s exhibition the ‘Museum of 1951’, a temporary exhibition held April to September 2011, advising on loans objects, archives, potential interviews and writing exhibition text, which has resulted in a permanent display of Festival ephemera and archival material in the foyer at the Royal Festival Hall. Harriet gave the keynote at a public event at the V&A in 2011 focused around the Festival collections at the Archives of Art & Design. She continues to be invited to talk about the Festival, most recently at Parsons The New School, New York in February 2017 on exhibited domestic interiors at the Festival. In May 2015 she was invited to talk about the Festival of Britain at a major event entitled ‘Victorian Futures: Culture and Democracy from The Reform Act to Olympicopolis and Beyond’, co-organised by UAL, Middlesex and the V&A, which considered the impact of cultural history on future cultural planning, attended by cultural leaders and policy makers.
Harriet has been invited to contribute articles on the Festival of Britain to various popular magazines including British Archaeology, Midcentury Modern and the Twentieth Century Society magazine. She also wrote an obituary of Festival Press Director Paul Clarke for The Independent, and was consulted on Clifford Hatts’ obituary for The Guardian. She acted as consultant on accuracy and sources to Proudfoot Productions on their Festival of Britain documentary (2011) and was interviewed for a Festival BBC Radio 3 programme presented by Sir John Tusa entitled ‘Don’t Make Fun of the Festival’.