Mervyn O’Gorman’s ‘Christina’: How the girl in red from a 1913 photo became a social media starlet
More than 100 years after they were taken, these images of a teenage girl at Lulworth Cove have taken Twitter and Instagram by storm.
The girl in question is Christina, and the images—on show in our Drawn by Light exhibition until 21 June 2015—have been doing the rounds on social media and in the world’s press. The Daily Mail called her ‘the original lady in red’. The Daily Mirror suggested that the images look so contemporary we should be using the hashtag #tinaonthebeach. And El Pais dubbed Christina ‘Una ‘pin-up’ de Flickr del siglo XX’—a Flickr pin-up for the 20th century.
Who was Christina?
The mystery of Christina’s identity has brought a lot of attention to the photographs, leading a major genealogy research organisation to delve into the archives to find out more.
In the most recent twist, a man from Chertsey spotted Christina in his copy of the Daily Mail and has contacted us to let us know that he possesses stereoscopic slides showing Christina and the photographer Mervyn O’Gorman on their way to the ‘shoot’. Curator Colin Harding will be collecting these slides next week to be scanned and studied at the museum. The mystery of ‘Tina on the beach’ may have another twist yet…
Born in Ireland, Mervyn Joseph Pius O’Gorman (1871–1958) is best known as one of the greatest British aeronautical engineers. During the First World War he was head of the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough. He was also a motoring pioneer, writing O’Gorman’s Motoring Pocket Book in 1904, and was actively involved in the Royal Automobile Club, becoming its vice-president. He later played a key role in the introduction of the Highway Code.
O’Gorman was an artist as well as an engineer, concentrating on etching and lacquer-work. Although not a member of the RPS, he was also a talented photographer. A charming and humorous man with enormous physical and mental energy, he seems to have been almost universally liked and admired. His obituary in The Times summed him up as ‘a man of agile mind and Hibernian eloquence’.