'Community Enjoyment' Pub Outing
Vintage Gelatin Silver Print
27.31 x 36.83 cms (10.73 x 14.47 ins)
Picture Post, September 24, 1954, illustrated.
Signed, titled, dated with description label affixed to verso.
In 1954 Robertson embarked on arguably her most celebrated series, Mother's Day Off, which documented a day trip to Margate undertaken by a group of women who often drank in a pub in Bermondsey and with whom she had spent the previous four nights. Robertson recalls: a couple of nights I noticed two things- one that the women were getting ready for a day trip that weekend, and that around me younger people, ex-soldiers, were talking about new high-rise flats, new estates outside London. I knew at that moment I was capturing a bit of history, and that it was all going to be broken up, the whole area.
'So I set off on the Saturday with the women in the coach. Their energy was awesomeThese women were survivors. These were women in their fifties, sixties and seventies, and they had been through two wars and that depression in the middle. They were incredibly exuberant.
Nine of Robertson's images were published in Picture Post, proving at once so affective and effective that two years later American magazine, Life, commissioned Robertson do re-shoot the story, this time featuring a group of women from a pub in Clapham.
In an interview published in The Telegraph in August 2010, Robertson said that what she and her fellow photographers at Picture Post were endeavouring to do in taking photographs of life on the home front, was to help a country fractured by war reimagine itself whole by communicating in visual terms, by showing 'this is how that group of people lives' at a time when photojournalism was in its comparative infancy.
Robertson was a true pioneer, conceiving of a number of stories considered contemporarily to be revolutionary. Her 1955 photographs of a woman giving birth, for example, were some of the first of their kind to be published (and indeed were nearly not published at all, having been rejected by Picture Post until Robertson's subject was 8 months pregnant).
After the collapse of Picture Post in 1957, Robertson worked as a freelance photojournalist, submitting work to a range of national magazines as well as to the Pictorial Press Agency. In 1992, she was commissioned by the BBC to make a documentary about nonagenarians. Robertson has written and lectured extensively on the role of women in photography and in 1999 received an OBE in recognition of her services to photography, the same year in which she was awarded the Wingate Scholarship, which she used to fund her then current project Working Mothers in Contemporary Society. Robertson is the only British photographer to have featured in an exhibition at the National Photography Gallery, USA, celebrating the first women in photojournalism.