Say cheese! Stories of the Robinson Studio

A bay window overlooking George Street in Launceston once had an important visitor. Now home to a Launceston City Mission retail outlet, the building has seen thousands of sitters traipse upstairs to have their portrait taken.

The building at 73 George Street, Launceston, was once the photographic studio of Frederick Vaudry Robinson, a talented Launceston photographer and artist, who moved his business to the premises after the First World War. He was later joined by his brother Robert, the pair specializing in portraiture.

Publications of the era champion Robinson's work and the use of art in photography which “makes every Robinson Studio Study a work of Art". The publications also provide copies of Robinson photos showing the layout of his studio and a collection of his work.

One such photo is a study titled “Miss Launceston" Becomes "Miss Tasmania".

The Weekly Courier, 25 May 1927

In 1927, Phyllis Von Alwyn, dual title holder of Miss Launceston and Miss Tasmania, posed in front of the bay window still seen from George Street. Phyllis was vying for the title of Miss Australia, raising money for charities across the state. Directly above in a windowless tiny attic, the Robinson brothers used a dark room to process their photographs.

Phyllis Von Alwyn did indeed become Miss Australia. She undertook a national and international tour, promoting her favourite charities. She later married Australian test cricketer Jack Gregory.

Today the staff and volunteers at Mission on George often meet customers who had their portrait taken in the building. But none as famous as Miss Launceston, Miss Tasmania and Miss Australia, Phyllis Von Alwyn.

73 George Street is entered on the Tasmanian Heritage Register and like countless two-storey commercial buildings across Tasmania, the upper storey retains many of its original features.

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