Alice Pattullo, Illustrator & Printmaker
Come and see Alice Pattullo’s prints at The Artists of Spitalfields Life opening at Ben Pentreath Ltd on Wednesday 7th November.
Alice Pattullo only moved to London at the beginning of this year, coming – like so many other young artists before her – to make her way in the world. And when I visited Alice in the shared house in Leyton in which she lives, I discovered that one room serves both as her studio and her living space – where she works seven days a week, creating a prolific output of lively and distinctive graphics.
“I had a plan,” Alice explained, her eyes lighting up in excitement, “One, find a house to live in. Two, do what I wanted to do.” Fortunately, a monthly commission from Coast magazine and regular work for English Folk Song & Dance Society publications covers Alice’s rent and gives her the basis upon which to create her own personal work, alongside a steady flow of other illustration jobs. “I can’t really stop,” she admitted to me, “you are working on one thing and it always leads to another thing. There is no distinction between my life and work. It could be really hard to motivate yourself in this situation but, because there’s so many things I want to do, that keeps me going.”
Originally from Newcastle, Alice graduated from Brighton College of Art in 2010 with a first class degree and an enthusiastic no-nonsense attitude. Her small room is lined with a colourful array of the work of twentieth century illustrators she admires and that she has found in markets and sales. Her desk is piled with her sketchbooks which she fills with designs and motifs that she scans into her computer where she reassembles and manipulates them into finished compositions. Impressively, Alice seems equally comfortable with the act of drawing as with digital creation.
I first became aware of Alice’s illustrations when I saw the beautiful print she had created inspired by my story about Steve Brooker, the mudlark, and the confidence and witty ingenuity of her style was immediately apparent. “All my work for the past few years has been about superstitions, folklore, traditions and customs.” Alice told me, “and since being in London I’ve been doing more stuff to do with being here.” Alice showed me two richly coloured prints that she has made as the beginning of a projected series illustrating all the livery companies of the City of London. “It’s about the celebration of a craft,” Alice declared, choosing the Worshipful Company of Glovemakers and the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers to start, as companies that are still involved in their respective trades. “It’s quite a good way to make a little money, and you’re not waiting for someone to give you a job,” she outlined, speaking modestly of these handsome prints that she produces in small editions at low prices to keep them moving.
There is a spirited quality to all of Alice’s work that I find irresistibly appealing. And I admire the way she has adopted her own subject matter and created her own momentum, thereby attracting commissions to keep herself going. Alice has no regrets about moving to London.“It’s been a good decision, I’ve already got so much more work,” she confirmed for me, breaking into a delighted smile.
The Worshipful Company of Glovers
The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers (with the figures of the giants Gog & Magog)
Pearly King & Queen
The Harvest Festival of the Sea
Swan Upping commissioned by the Shopfloor Project
Glandford Shell Museum
Cats at Brighton Museum
Alphabet of Superstitions
A IS FOR ALLAN APPLE. If a girl sleeps with an Allan apple under her pillow over Halloween she will dream of her future husband. If you eat one on Halloween you will be very fortunate in the year to come.
B IS FOR BEES. Bees are seen as sacred as they were thought to be divine messengers and foretellers of the future.You should never kill a bee, and you should always tell the bees of any change in circumstance in the home otherwise they will pine and die, or fly away – a grave misfortune.
C IS FOR CIGARETTE. You should never light three cigarettes from a single match otherwise misfortune will fall upon he who holds the third.
D IS FOR DOGS. Gabriel’s hounds are a pack of spectral dogs that haunt the skies.Anyone who hears or sees the hounds is doomed to s premature death.
E IS FOR EVIL EYE .He who bears the evil eye can bring illness and misfortune to humans and animals alike and can even destroy inanimate objects simply by looking at them.
G IS FOR GLOVES. If you drop your gloves you should always allow someone else to pick them up for you otherwise bad luck will follow.And if they are returned to you then you can expect a pleasant surprise.
H IS FOR HORSE SHOE. The common horseshoe is the best known lucky amulet. However it will only bring you it’s lucky properties if it is hung with it’s prongs pointing up. If the point down all the good luck will fall out.
I IS FOR ITCHING. Having an unexplained sensation in the body, for example an itch is suggested to have a significance depending on where it is.An itch in your: Right ear =Your mother is thinking of you. Left ear =Your lover is thinking of you. Eyes = A pleasant surprise if it is your right, a disappointment if it is your left. Cheeks = Someone is talking about you. Hands = Your right means you will be getting money soon, your left means you will be losing some. Nose = You will be kissed, cursed, vexed or shake hands with a fool!
J IS FOR JACKDAW. Rain is foretold if you see jackdaws fluttering round the top of a building and it is an omen of death if one should fly down the chimney.
K IS FOR KNIFE. To give a knife as a present will ‘cut’ the friendship.This can be counteracted though if the receiver gives something back in return – as though ‘buying’ the knife.
L IS FOR LADDER. A well known superstition is that it is unlucky to walk under a ladder but the bad fortune comes as the shape the ladder makes from leaning against a wall is the triangle of the Holy Trinity and walking through it suggests a sympathy for the Devil!
M IS FOR MERRYBONE. If two people hold each end of the forked bone found between the breast and neck of a fowl and break it while forming a secret wish, he who gets the larger half can be assured his wish will come true.
N IS FOR NAILS. Cutting your nails at sea will provoke a storm. If a young unmarried woman cuts the nails on her right hand she will rule her husband.A child’s nails should never be cut or he will become ‘light fingered’ but can be nibbled off by his mother.
O IS FOR ONION. Snakes have an aversion to onions so to protect against their attacks it is wise to carry a raw onion in the hand.
P IS FOR PINS. See a pin and pick it up all day long you will have good luck.
Q IS FOR QUELLING. To quell the waves in a storm it is suggested that you throw a pack of playing cards directly into the waves.
R IS FOR RAVEN. To see one raven is lucky, tis’ true, but it’s certain misfortune to light upon two and meeting with three is the Devil.
S IS FOR SCISSORS. Like giving a knife as a present, scissors too will cut the friendship.To drop a pair of scissors is thought to be unlucky and if they fall with the points facing downwards there will be a death shortly in the house.
T IS FOR TATTOOS. A sailor without tattoos is like a ship without grog. Not seaworthy.
U IS FOR UMBRELLA. You shouldn’t open an umbrella indoors otherwise it will bring misfortune to the whole household.
V IS FOR VULTURE. Vultures are birds of ill omen as it thought the can predict death and have an unsettling diet of corpses.
W IS FOR WOOD. Touching wood is thought to be an action that will help counteract the threat of evil. It is usually done when someone is thought to have tempted fate.
X IS KISSING. An unexpected kiss from a tall dark stranger is certain to be followed by a proposal of marriage. But beware! Kissing a man with a moustache should not be lightly undertaken – if a hair attaches to your lips you will never get married!
Y IS FOR YELLOW HAMMER. The yellowhammer is considered an ill omened bird as it is egg is covered in serpent like marks associating it with the Devil.
Z IS FOR ZODIAC. Each ‘house’ in the zodiac has it’s own unique character and people born within the dates are supposed to share similar traits.
Alice Pattullo in her room in Leyton.
Illustrations copyright © Alice Pattullo