Illustrator & Printmaker Extraordinaire
I first saw Alice Pattullo’s work in January 2012 when I played with the Cecil Sharp Project at the Cecil Sharp House in London. Her work hung in a huge exhibit all over the walls of the center, and I immediately fell in love with her style and subject matter. Her images and the way she drew reminded me of adored southern outsider artists and folk artists such as Howard Finster and Theora Hamblett. I bought a copy of Apple Wassailing, as my friends Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman had told me about the long tradition of singing to the apple trees in Devon each January.
After returning home to the United States, I kept thinking about Alice Pattullo. I looked at her blog and website and saw that she had studied in Minneapolis MN for a year. I decided that somehow, because of that, she might draw some images for me as a means of collaboration for the new album. I wrote her and she immediately responded. Our artistic relationship began.
I explained my basic concept for three images, all based on specific songs off of the album, Camilla. Alice started with the song “White Dress”, based on the 24-year-old Mae Frances Moultrie and her participation in the Freedom Riders movement in 1961. Moultrie rode the infamous Anniston, Alabama bus that exploded. I told Alice that Moultrie stepped off the bus and into the seething mob, which was waiting for her, in a white dress, white pumps, and white earrings. I also told Alice that my favorite personal heroes of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement were Diane Nash, Fannie Lou Hamer, James Lawson and Bob Moses.
Here’s what Alice designed:
Next, Alice began work on “Black Mountain Lullaby”, a song I wrote with the Cecil Sharp Project about the death of Jeremy Davidson, a three-year-old who lived in a trailer with his family outside of mountainous Appalachia, Virginia. The Davidsons lived just below a ridge where coal companies were widening roads so they could bring in larger trucks to cut off the top of the ridge, a form of the mountaintop removal style of coal mining. One fateful evening in 2004, trucks pushed a large boulder over the side of the ridge. It bounded down the mountain and literally rolled through the Davidson’s trailer, crushing Jeremy in his bed.
I told Alice that we made the song into a mother’s lullaby after one of the Cecil Sharp Project members found a Sharp song collection fragment that read, “bye, baby, baby bye”.
Alice then began work on the image “Traveling Shoes”, but soon into it I decided that Alice had to design the album cover instead! That panel contains images from several songs. Perhaps most prevalent are those from the song “Fireflies”, including a little girl in her nightgown and a house on fire. We also took images and information from the official website of Camilla, Georgia, a small, picturesque town that farms peanuts and raises cattle. In the shadow background on the right one can see Marion King taking her casserole and her children to the Camilla jail, walking towards an incident upon which the title track “Camilla” is based.
The town of Camilla, GA, close in name to my hometown of Canton, and also representative of so many southern towns, sits between two rivers, both of which are shown on Alice’s panel. The hanging shoes towards the top are from the song “Traveling Shoes,” based on a short story by Eudora Welty. One can also see the shadow of Phoenix Jackson, the protagonist of the story, in the shadow background on the left. Alice’s interpretation of this Welty character features much more prominently on my poster (see below).
Lastly, I told Alice that I love camellias, a winter-blooming rose family. She chose the birds, which fly in several of my songs.
After we finished the initial project, I asked Alice to make a poster for me. After some discussion we decided to have her superimpose images on top of my black and white press photo. She included characters and other stylistic references from many of my songs and from all of the above images. I love that she also included me as
a character amongst them. I asked to wear a red dress, based completely on the red dress I bought when I was in London in January 2012 (with my friends Jackie Oates and Kathryn Roberts). I wore it when I played at the Cecil Sharp House and bought my apple-wassailing lithograph.
– Caroline Herring
For more information on Alice Pattullo, please visit