Like many who went to Hertford I made long- lasting friendships while there and have fond memories of enjoying informal discussions and debates lasting well into the following morning. As a pupil from an inner-city all-girls state-school I was especially stimulated by the college’s broad and diverse student body. I too was introduced to the rigours of early morning rowing. But it was my study of history at Hertford that inspired me to branch off into art history and devote my later career to the art galleries in Liverpool, for art offers a new and different lens through which to focus on history. My experience of studying history at Hertford, with its scrupulous evaluations of all available evidence, also impressed on me the importance of retaining the ‘history’ in art history, providing a political, economic and social context for artists’ careers, for artists do not live in a vacuum their work is informed by the life around them.
Behind me in the photograph are two key portraits from the collections of the Walker Art Gallery (National Museums Liverpool). Hazel Lavery, the celebrated 1920s beauty, supporter of Irish independence and model for the representation of Ireland on its banknotes. William Roscoe (1753-1831), the core of whose pioneering collection of early Renaissance Italian and north European art is housed by the Walker. As MP for Liverpool, Roscoe also made a crucial speech for the abolition of the slave trade, and campaigned for the emancipation of Catholics and women.