Over the last week or so I have been catching up with some research and writing about one of my ‘famous’ ancestors, Betty Stockfeld. Betty was a stage and cinema actress with a career spanning over 40 years in the British and European industries.
Like many stars of stage and screen, her image found its way onto postcards, cigarette cards, into magazines and newspapers. Her name and image was used to promote cigarettes, alcohol, make up and health products as well as fashion. Many of her film reviews commented on her wardrobe rather than her capabilities as a performer.
This image appeared as part of a full page spread in 1932 promoting a new play ‘A Cold June‘ by Sir Arthur Pinero. Of note is the photographer: Dorothy Wilding. Wilding was a self taught portraitist of some note, especially for her work with the Royal Family. Unlike Queen Elizabeth II, Betty’s image as taken by Wilding never appeared on a postage stamp!
Wilding was known to be a popular photographer with women especially as she began to make a name for herself in the nude photography arena.
Another series of images taken by Wilding also appeared in The Tatler – but as Betty was semi naked in one of them, they won’t be shown here.
Its the depths of winter here in Central Victoria. This morning there was ice everywhere, mist in the valleys and early morning smoke from kitchen stove hanging in the air. It was crisp and bright with promise of a cold but clear day.
This is about as far away from summer as you can get. I decided that I would spend the day scanning, sorting and filing some of the family archive images. Despite my resident feline’s best attempts at disruption, I managed to get a small of work completed.
This image caught my fancy:
At a rough estimate, I would suggest that it was taken about 1959-60 and would have been somewhere like Sandringham beach. The young man to the left of the image is my immediately younger brother, and I am the young lady in the fetching ruched bathing costume. There are no annotations on the image to identify the other children but I suspect that the gentleman is a neighbour – his profile was almost instantly recognisable to me even after all this time. The other children would then most likely be his two eldest sons.
Then there’s the odd dark mark in the sky….. Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
It was possibly a grain of sand on the lens…. whatever it was, it prompted memories of the brouhaha that always erupted with reports of UFO sightings. Reports of strange lights, odd shaped flying crafts and weird looking creatures were a regular feature of news reports of my childhood. I wonder whether the ease of access to affordable cameras and photography as a skill being more popularly spread post World War 2, led to this explosion of ‘falsified’ images purporting to represent theses extraterrestrial beings.
Classic summer experiences of childhood like these bring back the pain of too much sun…. I was, more often than not, red raw by the end of the day. There was always a tube of zinc cream about – but my fair skin just didn’t appreciate too long an exposure. These days, I prefer wild beaches in the depths of winter. No people about…. no sticky sand flies….. no risk of sunburn!
Recently, a collection of family photographs was made available to me for the purposes of archival scanning (and for attaching to the files I have on various family members!)
One of the most delightful parts of the collections were the studio portraits taken of my grandmother as a child. My great grandfather (William Andrew Richardson) was living and working in Club Terrace, Victoria; a long way from the rest of the family in Footscray.
Gran (Dorothy Una Ophelia Richardson) was born in Footscray in 1900 and the collection of images had been taken at 6 month intervals…. I believe copies were then sent to her father so he could see how she was progressing. In the collection there were also pictures from and of him, annotated with the message that they were for his daughter, Dorothy.