Click here to view previous lectures

13 March 2018‘Arsenic and Old Wallpaper – the darker side of William Morris’
10 April 2018‘Treasure of the Black Tent: antique tribal rugs and dowry weavings of the Persian and Central Asian nomads’
08 May 2018‘Man’s Real Best Friend: horses in art and history’
12 June 2018‘Frank Thrower and Dartington Glass’

Click on a row and scroll to display more details about the lecture

‘Arsenic and Old Wallpaper – the darker side of William Morris’ Geri Parlby Tuesday 13 March 2018

Victorian designer William Morris was a man of many faces.  He is probably best known today as the creator of wallpaper, fabrics and stained glass windows, but he was also a poet, artist, philosopher, typographer and socialist.  Less well known are his links to the richest copper and arsenic mine in Europe and his toxic green wallpapers that are said to have poisoned thousands of people across England.


Dr Geri Parlby

Geri is a former Fleet Street journalist who couldn’t resist the lure of academia. She returned to studying fifteen years ago and now has a first class honours degree in History and Theology, a Masters in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute and a Theology PhD from Roehampton University.

Geri has taught for the University of Exeter for the past seven years and also lectures intermittently for the University of Plymouth and the University of Roehampton. She is a regular lecturer for the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts and heads up their South West Area History of Art Foundation course.

From and on


I’m a rather idiosyncratic art historian who studies history through art rather than the history of art.
I have a particular fascination for sacred art and deciphering what clues ‘holy images’ might be offering us as to the politics of religion.
You’ll find me rooting around in a variety of unusual places either in person or virtually. One week I’m in the catacombs of Rome, playing cherchez la femme with the oldest images of the Virgin Mary ever created, then in the cathedrals of Peru in pursuit of gun totting arch angels.
I’ve been known to flit from researching the 21st century narco-saints of Mexico to solving the runic riddles of an 8th century Anglo Saxon relic. Then on to the voluptuous goddess figures of Neolithic Catal Huyuk in Anatolia to the mysterious Black Madonna statues of western Europe.
Goddesses, saints, virgins and angels with a generous smattering of sinners in between – everything is grist to my mill.