Julia Enjoys an Infallible Touch with Her Apples

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tamzin Lewis

Thirteen writers leapt to the challenge to respond to an exhibition inspired by one of Britain's classic novelists, George Eliot. Tamzin Lewis reports.

Julia Darling's short story Apple is a gem in this diverse and fascinating collection of contemporary writings.

It concerns Andrew, a cleaner who used to be a doctor called Andrea. He loves the smell of apples. His son, who is too embarrassed to speak to his mother/father, also loves the smell of apples.

Julia, of Newcastle, says: "When I started working on the Apple story for the Infallible exhibition, I became interested in the idea of telling a story through different narrators and from shifting points of view."

The seed for the story was planted by a visit to a touring exhibition of photography, painting, sculpture, video and drawing currently showing at Newcastle University's Hatton Gallery.

Julia, fellow of literature and health at the university's School of English Literature, says: "I loved the visual ideas and story telling themes in the exhibition and that is what inspired me. I also thought about George Eliot and how she hid her true identity, yet led such a passionate creative life."

George Eliot was the pseudonym used by writer Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880) whose most famous works include Middlemarch, Silas Marner, Mill On The Floss and Daniel Deronda. These novels and lesser-known poems were used by a group of artists, including Paul Flannery of Blyth and Newcastle University fine art lecturer Brigitte Jurack, as the basis for the Hatton exhibition.

Titled Infallible: In Search of the Real George Eliot, it was designed to reflect the fluid relationships between fiction and visual art.

Roxy Walsh, another fine art lecturer at the university, curated the exhibition and edited the book. She says: "The rewarding thing about the book is that the reader can feel the wind blow between different interpretations of the same thing. …