IMAGES of everyday items from a house in the Birches have made it into a steamy, best-selling novel - and have catapulted the artist responsible into the limelight.
Jennifer Trouton, originally from the Birches, included the “mundane, everyday items” from her grandmother’s house in a mosaic of 304 pictures and both she and the artwork have received a special mention in the much-talked about novel, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.
Author Erica Leonard, who writes under the pen name E L James, spotted the piece of art, entitled ‘Looking at the Overlooked’, in a London gallery six years ago and was so struck by it that she included it in the book.
Jennifer’s name and artwork are mentioned when the protagonists - college graduate Anastasia Steele and young business magnate Christian Grey - meet in Grey’s office, with the novel charting their racy, unconventional relationship.
In a description of the office, it says ‘Everything else is white, ceiling, floors and walls, except for the wall by the door where a mosaic of small paintings hang, 36 of them arranged in a square.
‘They are exquisite - a series of mundane forgotten objects painted in such precise details they look like photographs. Displayed together, they are breathtaking.
‘ “A local artist, Trouton,” says Grey, when he catches my gaze.
‘“They’re lovely. Raising the ordinary to the extraordinary,” I murmur, distracted by both him and the paintings.’
Forty-year-old Jennifer, who is surprised but pleased by the unexpected publicity, knows the author personally. She said, “Erica saw the artwork in the gallery in London and fell in love with it. “She mentioned she was going to include it in her novel but that was before she knew the book was going to be such a hit.
“I feel very honoured that she liked the work enough to include it in her book. Erika changed the artwork a little to 36 paintings - mine has 304 - and in the book the paintings are an analogy for their relationship. It is how the author elevated the relationship between the two protagonists from the ordinary to the extraordinary.”
Jennifer, a past pupil of Killicomaine JHS and Portadown College, explained that after the death of her grandmother Myrtle Trouton in 1999, she began photgraphing everyday objects in her home - jugs, candlesticks and a necklace were just some of them - with other photos taken in Canada, America and England.
The artwork, which is over six metres long, consists of paintings, photographs and mixed media of still life objects relating to “the house and the woman within”.
Said Jennifer, “I had been reading a book on Victorian female painters and how they were restricted in what they could paint, so this was really a statement work and I made it very large so that it couldn’t be overlooked.”
Jennifer, a contemporary artist, has been living and working in Belfast since completing a degree in Fine Art at the University of Ulster’s Art College in 1996.
She works out of Queen Street Studios in Belfast and has exhibited at Molesworth Gallery in Dublin and has just started working with the Waterhouse and Dodd gallery in London.
The daughter of Thomas and Caryll Trouton, who still live in the Birches, Jennifer is currently working on pieces for the Royal Ulster Academy show and a commission for Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board (ESB).
Meanwhile, the novel, the first in a trilogy, has sold 31 million copies worldwide and has set the record for the fastest-selling paperback of all time.