Unscripted involved a series of four online workshops with professional playwright Nick Cassenbaum. Participants developed creative pieces inspired by the George Eliot collection at Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery.
Participants chose one object from the George Eliot collections. The objects all linked to themes around gender, self image, remembrance and commemoration. Each person used this object as inspiration for their creative response.
Reflection, written and read by Mollie Davidson
Paperweight by Zarah Alam
I bring her over, the cold and heavy bronze a shock to my skin, and place her on my desk, my beautiful paperweight. I see a woman, head down as if contemplating life or telling herself a tale of longing and loss. Perhaps they are the same.
Sadness consumes her, weighs on her shoulders, colours her skin the dark metal of her deceptively smooth dress. The copper smell of pennies reaches for me, winds its way up my nostrils, accompanied by the subtle dusty smell of age and sombreness. All I can see, smell, feel is this statue-still woman who refuses to meet my gaze. I can’t look away.
Before I realise what I am doing, my finger traces the valley from her right eye down her cheek. She makes no sound, no sob, but I hear the echoes of her cries, murmured, stifled by the centuries that part us. Why can’t she look me in the eye? What secrets is she keeping inside?
It’s strange, she is real to me. But the real George Eliot has never seen this imposter. Would she be flattered? Horrified? Would she break it into pieces to make it more like her, fissures and fractures inside?
I imagine they made you with your head raised high, and you lowered it over time. An immortalised shame posing as an honour.
I want to tug the centuries apart, tell George Eliot she is remembered, tell her I recognise her pain. Her sadness creeps closer, my fingers stain black, turn cold.
This statue –
I can’t –
Look away –
This statue is as much a mystery to me as George Eliot is – I can’t bear it. I put her in a box, close the lid, and place it in the back of my wardrobe. To be so close to it is to recognise how far I truly am.