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April 2007 Issue
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From art to Africa: novelist's work on exhibition

 Library

An exhibition of novelist Joyce Cary's work is being held at the University of Adelaide's Barr Smith Library to honour the 50th anniversary of the writer's death.

Cary's son, Tristram - an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow in Music - has loaned a collection of his father's books and personal items, including photographs and artworks, to the University's Library for the two-month exhibition.

The free exhibition has already begun and is open to the public until 11 May in the Barr Smith Library's Ira Raymond Exhibition Room.

The Library has a large collection of books by Joyce Cary, including a number of rare items that are kept in Special Collections, as well as critical works on the author's novels.

The works on display include Cary's celebrated trilogy of novels devoted to the raffish artist Gulley Jimson: Herself Surprised (1941), To Be A Pilgrim (1942) and The Horse's Mouth (1944). Another trilogy, dealing with politics, led to the publication of Prisoner of Grace, Except the Lord and Not Honour More (1952-55).

The Irish-born writer's early novels drew on his years in Africa, where he initially served with a Nigerian regiment in the First World War and then as a colonial officer and magistrate. His experiences there provided literary fodder for Aissa Saved (1932), An American Visitor (1933), The African Witch (1936) and Mister Johnson (1939).

Ireland inspired Castle Corner (1938) and A House of Children (1941), an evocation of summers in Inishowen which won the James Tait Black award for best novel.

English-born Tristram Cary is a pioneer of electronic music and composed the score for Doctor Who's arch enemies, the Daleks, in the first series of the 1960s TV show. He designed and built some of the world's first electronic synthesisers in the 1970s and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1991 for his services to Australian music.

Now aged 82, Cary retired from the University's Elder Conservatorium of Music in 1986 but remains an Honorary Visiting Research Fellow.

In launching the exhibition on 29 March - the 50th anniversary of Joyce Cary's death - Tristram Cary delivered a free public talk about his father's life as an adventurer, writer and artist.

"My father instilled us with a love of stories and the value of education. As children he would always tell us imaginative bed-time stories, full of suspense and intrigue.

"He valued education highly but could not afford to pay for good schools, instead urging us to work hard and earn scholarships - which, luckily, all four of us did.

"We were also very fortunate to grow up around literary people like Iris Murdoch, Graham Greene and Enid Starkie, who were regulars at our house in Oxford," he said.

Story by Candy Gibson

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Tristram Cary with samples of his fatherís work
Photo by Candy Gibson

Tristram Cary with samples of his father's work
Photo by Candy Gibson

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