Verity Clarkson is a design historian whose research explores the role of post-1945 exhibitions, trade fairs, art historiography and other cultural contacts in the context of the cultural diplomacy of the Cold War.
Her work examines transnational connections with a focus on British perspectives - arts organisations, government bodies and audiences – in order to understand the complex ways in which cultural interactions were not only sites of contest but could also be locations for collaboration.
Verity is part of the University of Brighton’s Internationalising Design History Research Cluster. Her teaching interests spring from her work on post-war British culture in the context of the Cold War. She is currently collaborating with Dr Harriet Atkinson on the transnational study of cultural diplomacy via design. Papers from their conference, From ‘Soft’ to ‘Hard’ Power? Changing visions of Diplomacy by Design from 1945 Onwards will be published in the journal Design and Culture in 2017. She is co-chairing the inaugural DHS panel at the CAA conference in 2017.
After obtaining a BA in modern history at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, Verity studied design history at the University of Brighton where she developed a fascination with material culture. By investigating the cultural meanings of vintage analogue synthesizers she connected her interests as a DJ and musician with the uses of ‘the past’ in design. Her AHRC funded doctorate, in collaboration with the V&A Museum, examined the organisation and reception of exhibitions from the Eastern Bloc in Britain during the Cold War; much of this work has been presented at conferences and published in edited collections and journals. Alongside her academic work, she has held roles at the Crafts Council and at the Natural History Museum, London.
Atkinson, Harriet and Clarkson, Verity (2017) Design and Culture journal on 'Design as an object of diplomacy post-1945' [Edited Collections]
Clarkson, Verity (2016) Exhibiting Central European baroque in Cold War Britain: ‘The works themselves refute geographical separatism’ Journal of Art Historiography, 15. pp. 1-13. ISSN 2042-4752
Clarkson, Verity (2016) Book Review: Crafting Design in Italy: from post-war to postmodernism, Catharine Rossi (2015) Manchester: Manchester Unversity Press Craft Research, 7 (1). pp. 124-128. ISSN 2040-4689
Clarkson, Verity (2015) Book Review: Everyday Life in Russia Past and Present edited by Choi Chatterjee, David L Ransel, Mary Cavender and Karen Pertrone. Afterword by Sheila Fitzpatrick. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2015. Journal of European Studies, 45 (4). pp. 387-389. ISSN 0047-2441
Clarkson, Verity (2012) “Sputniks and sideboards”: exhibiting the Soviet ‘Way of Life’ in Cold War Britain 1961-1979 In: Cross, A., ed. A People Passing Rude: British Responses to Russian Culture. Open Book Publishers CIC, Cambridge, pp. 285-300. ISBN 9781909254107
Clarkson, Verity (2012) Camilla Gray, The Russian Experiment in Art 1963-1922 (1962 and 1971) In: Newall, D. and Pooke, G., eds. Fifty Key Texts in Art History. Routledge Key Guides . Routledge, Oxford, pp. 120-125. ISBN 9780415497701
‘The Soviet avant-garde in Britain: the Art in Revolution exhibition (1971)’ at East-West Cultural Relations: Interplay of Arts and Cultural Diplomacy 1945-2017, Jyväskylä University, 24-25 February, 2017.
Panel co-convenor, with Dr Harriet Atkinson and Dr Sarah Lichtman, for the theme: 'Beyond Boundaries: art and design exhibitions as transnational exchange from 1945’ at College Art Association (CAA) conference, New York, 15-18 February, 2017.
‘1000 Years of Art in Poland (1970): a collaborative exhibition of Polish national identity in Cold War Britain’ at Machineries of Persuasion: European Soft Power and Public Diplomacy during the Cold War at Aarhus University, 19-20 January 2017.
Conference co-convenor, with Dr Harriet Atkinson, From "Soft" to "Hard" Power? Changing Visions of Diplomacy by Design from 1945 onwards, University of Brighton, 27 November, 2015.
‘‘The works themselves refute geographical separatism’: Exhibiting the Baroque in Cold War Britain’ at Baroque for a Wide Public: Popular Media and Their Constructions of the Epoch on Both Sides of the Iron Curtain, Humboldt University, Berlin, 12-13 June, 2015.
‘USSR at Earls Court: The Soviet Way of Life in Cold War Britain 1961-79’ at The British Reception and Perception of Russian Culture, 18th – 20th Centuries,Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, 31 August – 2 September, 2011.
‘Art in Revolution at the Hayward Gallery (1971)’ atNetworking the Bloc: UK Connections, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, RSA Conference, 4 December, 2010.
‘Contested visions of Soviet art in Britain: the Art in Revolution exhibition (1971)’ at Art Histories, Cultural Studies and the Cold War, Senate House, London, 24 September, 2010.
‘Embassy exhibitions’ and national identities: the organization and reception of Eastern European exhibitions in Cold War Britain’ at Cold War Interactions Reconsidered (Aleksanteri Conference), University of Helsinki, 29-31 October, 2009.
‘”USSR at Earls Court”: Exhibiting the Soviet ‘Way of Life’ in Cold War Britain, 1961-1979’atCultural Representations of the Cold War, University of Osnabruck, 5-7 December, 2008.
‘Using Old Technology Today: The Meanings of Vintage Analogue Synthesizers’ at The Past in the Present: History as Practice in Art, Design and Architecture, Glasgow School of Art, 26-29 October, 2007.