Updated: Nov 4, 2020
A project exploring the nature of memory and legacies through the relationship of Victorian novelist George Eliot and her aunt, who lived in the town of Wirksworth.
"I should like, while the subject is vividly present with me, to tell you more exactly than I have ever yet done, what I knew of my aunt, Elizabeth Evans."
Wirksworth Heritage Centre was seeking to produce a graphic novel inspired by George Eliot’s Adam Bede and the novel’s links to the local area. George Eliot’s aunt, Elizabeth Evans, lived in Wirksworth and is thought to be the inspiration for the character Dinah Morris in Adam Bede. I came on board as a writer/artist in residence.
One of the delights of this project was having an excuse to get the most out of my library card. George Eliot is in the tier of literary figures who have entire fields of study surrounding them: great for learning the facts, but overwhelming when it comes to processing all the different lenses that she can be viewed under. Her aunt Elizabeth is even more obfuscated - to some she is the real Dinah Morris, to others she is an important figure in the history of the Methodist Church, but to those who actually knew her she was neither.
I ended up exploring this issue through my graphic novel, basing the work around a letter which George Eliot wrote to a friend shortly after she was revealed as the author of Adam Bede and she was having to deal with the suggestion that Dinah was created wholesale from her memory of her Aunt.
I couldn't visit Wirksworth as much as I'd have liked, and so as a substitution for physically visiting the museum and chatting to visitors about the project I created a series of quick vlogs talking about the project and my process.
Workshops and Drop In Sessions
Another part of my residency was running activities for kids and families, and a masterclass for teenagers. I met some fantastic young artists who had incredible ideas to share.