Grace Robertson / Picture Post / Hulton Archive / Getty Images.
CREDIT: Grace Robertson / Picture Post / Getty Images.

Persevere Young Man: Grace Robertson and Picture Post

Event info

Photo Oxford Festival, in partnership with the RPS, presents Persevere Young Man: Grace Robertson and Picture Post.

Taking its title from the rejection slip Grace Robertson first received from the magazine, the talk will explore her contribution to Picture Post, and its representation of British women and children in particular.

A cornerstone of British photographic history, soon after the weekly’s launch in 1938, founding editor Stefan Lorant outlined its objectives thus: “Picture Post firmly believes in the ordinary man & woman; thinks they have had no fair share in picture journalism: believes their faces are more striking, their lives & doings more full of interest, than those of the people whose faces & activities cram the ordinary picture papers. This goes for dictators & debutantes equally.”⁠⠀

The magazine’s female photographers were, more often than not, charged with capturing that ordinary woman; Merlyn Severn, frustrated at another domestic-looking assignment, purposefully made a young child cry to liven up the story. As women photographing women, it may have afforded greater access and disarmament, in keeping with Picture Post’s candid visual sensibility. Yet, class was also a barrier to capturing, in the words of Robertson’s mentor, Kurt Hutton, “people in everyday life as they look and act, do and are done by, when no camera is anywhere near them.

Presented by the curator of the Getty Images Hulton Archive, Melanie Llewellyn will also be sharing details on a new edit of Robertson’s unpublished material, as part of a project expanding the representation of Picture Post’s female photographers.

The largest photographic collection in private ownership, the Getty Images Hulton Archive houses some 80 million images from across the history of the medium. A working picture library since its inception in 1947, the Hulton’s story begins with the founding of the London Stereoscopic Company in 1854, and reflects the changing character of image dissemination throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Its 1,500 collections - from Picture Post magazine to global picture agencies, idiosyncratic rarities to 19th century masterpieces - form an unparalleled whole.

Image: Bluebell Girls from London read the paper during an interval at the Lido club in the Champs-Elysees, Paris, November 1951. They are en route to Italy. Original Publication: Picture Post - 5672 (9 February 1952) - Miss Bluebell Takes Her Girls To Italy. Photo by Grace Robertson/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images. 

Melanie Llewellyn will be introduced by curator Catlin Langford.

This event accompanies an online exhibition Moments of Transition: The photographs of Grace Robertson for Photo Oxford Festival 2021. The festival is themed around Women & Photography. Ways of seeing and being seen, and runs from 15 October to 15 November 2021. 

It will be followed by a public Q+A. Questions will be taken by Zoom chat. Your Zoom link will be sent in PDF with your booking confirmation. 

This talk is free but space is limited and requires booking. 

The Photo Oxford Festival 2021 is themed around Women & Photography. Ways of seeing and being seen. It runs from 15 October to 15 November 2021. 

Event Organiser

Michael Pritchard


Cancellation policy

This is an online event. The RPS will do its best to ensure that it keeps to the published timings and runs as planned. In the unlikely event that the event has to be cancelled all participants will be advised by email at the earliest opportunity.  No responsibility will be accepted for any consequential losses.



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