Watch Video: Artists Talk

CLICK HERE to watch a conversation between artist Paul Smith and Professor Ruth Livesey, exploring Paul Smith’s exhibition, UNCERTAIN PROMISES: The Unofficial George Elliot Countryside.

Paul Smith’s new paintings come from his time exploring George Eliot’s legacy in Nuneaton, as part of the writer’s bicentenary, and reflects her understanding of modern English life as being illustrated by the psychology of its marginalia. All rights reserved.

Introduction by Paul Appleton and with thanks to Charmaine Stimson and Kate Proudman of One Paved Court. Recorded in February 2022.

Redell Olsen, Co-Principal Investigator

REDELL OLSEN is a poet and writer who often works with film and performance. She is interested in the emerging critical space between academic and creative practice, innovative and interdisciplinary writing. Her past film and performance projects include: ‘Newe Booke of Copies’ (2009) and the collaboratively realised ‘The Lost Swimming Pool’ (2010). Her scholarly articles include essays and conference papers on sound and poetics, the painter Grace Hartigan and Frank O’Hara, Susan Howe, feminism and poetry and film.

Workshops: 24th February & 2nd March


Thursday 24 February 2022, 6pm – 8.30pm

Wednesday 2 March 2022, 11am – 2pm

Wednesday 2 March 2022, 6pm – 8.30pm

Venue: central Coventry (address to be given upon booking) 

Do you live in Coventry or the West Midlands and want to be part of our 2022 immersive theatre experience, The Great Middlemarch Mystery?

Come play a key role in shaping the story of The Great Middlemarch Mystery, a contemporary take on George Eliot’s novel unfolding across four locations in the centre of Coventry in April 2022.

In a series of theatre workshops, we invite you to:

  • create a role from scratch
  • develop methods of interacting with audiences
  • get to know other people with shared interests
  • have a fun and engaging evening together
  • have the opportunity to be part of the final theatre production

More info about the workshops can be found HERE.
Info about the production including the booking link can be found HERE.

Give a voice to the stories you wish to tell and step into a role you have chosen and built together with our professional cast and creatives.

If you live in Coventry or the West Midlands and you’d like to register your interest in the workshop, please email before the date you’d like to attend with the subject line ‘Middlemarch workshop’.

Workshop spaces are limited. Age guidance: 18+
Covid health and safety measures will be in place throughout

Please note there is currently no wheelchair access.

Workshop: Your Story Matters

Finding and Writing Women’s Stories in Coventry Archives 

Saturday, 12th March 2022

11am – 2:30pm (incl. lunch)

Venue: Coventry Archives, Coventry History Centre Jordan Well Coventry CV1 5QP



Interested in women’s history in Coventry and your place in it? Which stories are preserved and what is missing?  

In this hands-on workshop we invite women to contribute to the history of Coventry for the generations to come. Explore creative writing to respond to the stories we find in the Archives and think about what you might want to leave as your own record.    

Join writer and academic Ruth Livesey and Archive Manager Victoria Northridge in exploring how the history of women in Coventry is represented in the Archives, from the earliest of times, to the Victorian age, and the great redevelopment of Coventry in the 1950s and 60s.  

Our workshop is inspired by local female artists who break the mould, from writer George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), whose novel Middlemarch is a fictional version of women’s lives in nineteenth-century Coventry, and composer Delia Derbyshire, the electronic music pioneer, best known for the theme tune to Dr Who. 

Lunch is provided. Booking is required. 

Image credit: The National Archives (Advert for a clothing sale at Snelgrove and Allen, which lists the types of clothes on sale, 1901) 

Research Assistant: Rosalind White

Dr. Rosalind White is Postdoctoral Research Associate on ‘Finding Middlemarch in Coventry’. Her doctoral thesis, ‘In My Mind’s Cabinet’, is an intimate exploration of natural history that examines the lives of its practitioners beyond the impact of conventional watersheds. She has a forthcoming chapter in A Cultural History of Insects in the Age of Industry (Bloomsbury Academic 2022) and co-wrote Pre-Raphaelites in the Spirit World (Peter Lang 2021), a study of the unpublished séance diary of William Michael Rossetti. She can be found on twitter @DrRosalindWhite


The Unofficial George Elliot Countryside

Paul Smith

2- 20 February 2022

One Paved Court, 1 Paved Court , Richmond, TW9 1LZ

Artists Talk

Paul Smith in conversation with Prof. Ruth Livesey, Royal Holloway. Watch HERE.

Paul Smith’s new paintings come from his time exploring George Eliot’s legacy in Nuneaton, as part of the writer’s bicentenary, and reflects her understanding of modern English life as being illustrated by the psychology of its marginalia. 

In his edgelands, Smith finds the haunting beauty of life in an England of suburban landscapes – places where the delicate balances that describe the ethereality of Englishness itself are pushed, and push back.

Find out more about the artist at

Project Partner: Coventry Archives

Providing insights into the history of the city and its citizens – from medieval times to the present day, Coventry Archives houses a huge range of primary and secondary source material.

Particular highlights of the collection include our internationally important collection of medieval manuscripts giving an unrivalled glimpse into the administration of the city from its earliest recorded times. Our earliest record is dated 1182.

Our automotive collection contains a huge range of books and journals on the cycling and motoring industry in Coventry such as Motor, Autocar, Cycling, Bicycling News.

Whether you’re researching for school or college projects, university dissertations, family history, the history of your house or just want to know more about our fascinating city, Coventry Archives is an invaluable free resource and an essential destination. 

To find out more including how to make an appointment or search the online catalogue, please go to the Coventry Archives homepage.

The Great Middlemarch Mystery, by Dash Arts


Taking place across four locations in the Cathedral Quarter in Coventry, The Great Middlemarch Mystery will run from Thursday 7 – Sunday 10 April 2022.

Step into the reimagined world of one of the greatest English novels ever written, on the streets of Coventry.

Part-immersive theatre experience and part-mystery game, The Great Middlemarch Mystery puts a modern twist on George Eliot’s Middlemarch and its story of the hopes, dreams, disappointments and scandals lived out within a Midlands town. 

Follow the interwoven lives of the townsfolk of Middlemarch as they meet with triumph and ruin, and help them unearth a terrible secret at its heart. Who is the stranger with unfinished business in Middlemarch? And what is the meaning of his untimely death? 

Gather clues as the story unfolds between four historic venues in central Coventry before coming together to solve the mystery in this interactive adventure from Dash Arts.

Directed and adapted by Josephine Burton
Researched and co-developed by Professor Ruth Livesey
Designer: Alex Podger
Associate Designer: Bryan Woltjen

A Dash Arts production.

Supported by the UK Research and Innovation Arts and Humanities Research Council, Arts Council England, Warwick Arts Centre, The Garrick Charitable Trust, Royal Holloway, University of London, The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, Three Monkies Trust, the Middlemarch Giving Circle and The Thistle Trust. Part of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.


In February 2022, Dash Arts are running a series of performance workshops leading to the opportunity to take part in the professional production detailed above. Find out more here including how you can get involved.

Finding Middlemarch in Coventry


Finding Middlemarch in Coventry is a new project led by Ruth Livesey and Redell Olsen, in partnership with Nuneaton Art Gallery and Museum (NMAG) and Culture Coventry (Herbert Museum & Coventry Archives), Dash Arts theatre company and Warwick Arts Centre. 

During 2021-2022, this project will reimagine George Eliot’s radical artistic vision of ‘provincial life’ in the Midlands through collaborations with diverse communities as part of Coventry City of Culture. It will tell the story of Eliot and the ground-breaking literary experiment of her novel Middlemarch, published 150 years ago in 2021, with the people living in the city which it fictionalised.   

The project will enable Livesey’s research on Eliot’s art of the everyday, and its problematisation of a provincial/metropolitan cultural divide in Britain, to reach new audiences through a series of co-produced outputs:  

  • community archive workshops resulting in an online exhibition 
  • Part-immersive theatre experience and part-mystery game ‘The Great Middlemarch Mystery’, devised by Dash Arts in collaboration with Ruth Livesey and working with community groups in Coventry 
  • an experimental short film directed by Redell Olsen 

More information about the partners and individuals involved can be found here.

The proposed activities address the needs of new non-academic partners identified during the course of the PI’s AHRC Leadership Fellowship (2019-20):  

1) The development of a new George Eliot interpretation strategy by Nuneaton Art Gallery and Museum (NMAG) and Culture Coventry (Herbert Museum & Coventry Archives), for their extensive holdings concerning her life and work. This will change the story visitors to these institutions take away with them about Eliot and is a major long-term investment. 

2) Innovative research-led content development complementing the Middlemarch strand of Coventry City of Culture led by Warwick Arts Centre.