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Move over Bailey, Beaton and Bown

Dorathy Hodgkin

This month has been very exciting for First Women as our portrait of Nobel prize winner Professor Dorothy Hodgkin has been acquired by the National Portrait Gallery and is joining the archive collection of British Scientists that were purchased from us a couple of years ago.

We had the very surreal experience of visiting the cool and dimly lit archive library at the NPG which houses the ‘Photographs Collection’ – drawers and drawers full of the likes of David Bailey, Cecil Beaton and Jane Bown, all preserved in darkness and kept at a constant humidity and temperature.

And now there is also a Corbin O’Grady drawer which houses the collection of 12 British Scientists taken by myself and John back in 1989 for the series “Science in Profile” commissioned by The British Council. The pictures were taken over a three month period. There were 24 in total and the resulting set of portraits was exhibited in the early nineties all over the world but never in Britain.

Two years ago the Gallery staged the “Science in Focus” display and we had the rewarding experience of seeing our photographs beautifully displayed in a world class portrait gallery. Interest had been drummed up by then Trustee (now retired) Ludmilla Jordanova who championed the idea of showing scientists as real people and not just names in a text book. Ludmilla was particularly keen to see a female scientist added to the 11 males selected and leapt at the chance to buy Dorothy’s portrait when we made it available.

I am particularly pleased to see Dorothy take her place alongside her male counterparts as it ties in so well with my “First Women” project.  Dorothy was another amazing woman who has helped to change the world with her work on penicillin and insulin as well as the development of X-ray crystallography.

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