I am still going through the relatively small collection of old photos of my grandmother Alice. This one really appealed to me, as it showed her as a young married woman, posing in a studied way for the photographer, with her left elbow resting on a large book. It might well have been a school portrait, but I am not sure if they did school portraits back at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The original image was in woeful condition, as can be seen from the above collage. It was torn, held together with sellotape, had creases in it, and was missing significant elements (like some of her hair), and a section of her right sleeve and hand were badly damaged.
It took a novice like me a lot of time fiddling around in Photoshop to resurrect this image to a portion of what must have been its former glory. As I spent time footling about the edges of the image, her quiet serenity and authority drew me in. Her face was unharmed through all the ravages this image went through, almost as if it were a metaphor for the vicissitudes of her life. It may have been hurt in many ways at the edges, but the centre held firm. Here, I think, was a formidable woman, someone who seemed very comfortable in her own skin.