Robertson, Grace. (8 of 19). Oral History of British Photography.
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1993-09-27 and 1993-10-04
Robertson, Grace, 1930- (speaker, female)
Dein, Alan (speaker, male)
Part 8. Grace Robertson [GR] describes place near house where she would reflect on things; story of seeing dead animal’s skull. Comments on education; taken for granted she would go to University; good at science; left school to live in Surry. Comments on new school; fee paying; father moved because of job offer on Picture Post. Comments on life in Old Coulsdon; mother chose house; GR did not make many friends; mother and father reunited; father’s erratic working hours; father would bring home the Picture Post magazine and talk about work. Anecdote about the day the school headmistress advised against reading a Picture Post article. Describes father’s work; type of articles he was given; his ability to make complicated facts readable; his friendship with Tom Hopkinson [TH]; description of TH; GR father’s involvement with the church (father of chapel for Hulton); peoples attitude to him. Describes money spent on a cure for GR’s mother; lots of doctors; selling household furniture. Mentions mother had no sense of possession; threw out GR’s negatives; father’s pride in 25 year old coat and beret; father had no visual eye. Remarks on fathers political alignment; left-wing; traumatic to report on Labour Governments failed ground nut scheme in Africa. Discusses the role of women in the post war years; anecdote about meeting a severely wounded man working in Fleet Street; lack of movement in new-look women’s clothing; physically restricted from entering the working world.
Performer notes : Grace Robertson was one of the few women photographers to work for the magazine Picture Post. Career as a photographer began in 1949, with Simon Guttmann and the Report agency. Worked as a freelance for Picture Post from 1950-57 until it closed. Then photographed for other British and American publications until 1960. Retrained as a teacher, and returned to photography in the 1980s. Included in the touring exhibition Women Photographers in Britain, National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford (1986). Now active as a photographer and lecturer. Retrospective exhibition has toured UK and her book Grace Robertson, Photojournalist of the 50s was published by Virago in 1989. Daughter of journalist Fyfe Robertson and married to photojournalist Godfrey Thurston Hopkins.