Saturday 25 November 2017

The Irish artist with a starring role in Fifty Shades of Grey

It is the publishing sensation that has sold 31 million copies worldwide.

Now an Irish artist has unwittingly been thrust into the limelight by author EL James in her global bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.

In the steamy novel, entrepreneur Christian Grey is portrayed as a fan of Down woman Jennifer Trouton, with her painting 'Looking At the Overlooked' discussed by the two main characters in the book's opening chapter.

"This is a huge thrill and a kick. The more I think about it, the more I go 'wow'. I've had more hits on my website and more people looking at my page on Facebook," Jennifer Trouton told The Diary.

The appearance of her work in the publishing phenomenon, which has overtaken Harry Potter and The Da Vinci Code to become the fastest-selling book of all time, is as a result of her long friendship with Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James, real name Erika Mitchell.

The pair have been friends for 13 years and met when Mitchell was living in Ireland.

"Erika is a supporter of my work, and it was incredibly kind of her to use my piece in her book," said the painter who exhibits in Dublin's Molesworth Gallery.

James first saw the painting, which features small images of everyday objects, at an exhibition Trouton staged in London in 2006.

"The idea of the painting is the ordinary elevated to the extraordinary which is almost a metaphor for the relationship between Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in the book," said Trouton.

Although in Fifty Shades of Grey the artwork is depicted as being on display in the Seattle office of millionaire Christian Steele, the original remains with the artist, who said she has no idea how its connection to the famous bestseller might affect its sale price should she put it up for auction.

"I still own the painting and I have never looked at this as my opportunity to make money. This is Erika's book but it's quite surreal seeing so many people reading it and having this connection. It's quite a thing to drop into conversation," said the 40-year-old from Portadown.

More than 60,000 copies of Fifty Shades of Grey have been purchased in the Irish book chain Eason since April.

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