Robertson, Grace. (9 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 9. Grace Robertson [GR] discusses the role of women. Mentions that growing up is a decision. Describes her clothes; made own clothes because of difficulty with her height; tall girls shop but clothes were dowdy; shopping at Peter Robinsons; anecdote about wearing low cut dress during Salvation Army story, Describes moving south; impressions of London; wanted to stay in Lake District; start of the buzz bombs; shelter was in communal cellar; lived in wing of rented house; description of house. Comments on parents approach to money; father could not afford full time nurse; GR agreed to stay at home and look after her mother; comparison with other women at end of First World War (WWI). Mentions mother starting to have gold injections. Describes father; time spent cleaning car engine; handyman; parents sex life; mother felt everything father did was right; father remarried after mother died. Describes GR’s introduction to photography; early influences Rupert the Bear and Grimm’s Fairy Tales; going on assignment with father; story of realising she wanted to be a photographer; never had a box brownie. Story of telling father she wanted to be a photographer. Comments on considering returning to school; father suggested she should learn Latin; GR did not want to wear school uniform. Remarks on father being supportive; could not afford to send her to college; bought GR equipment (Leica, Kodak precision enlarger, film and developer); GR learnt to be a photographer; difficulty of confronting people, learnt to be invisible behind the camera.
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.