Murder Ballads

'Or some of those that fly so high' Oil on canvas 48x50 2014
‘Or some of those that fly so high’ Oil on canvas 48×50 2014

View the gallery here. 

The traditional folksong of the Appalachians is close to my heart. I inherited an enthusiasm for such music from my father. With its Celtic origins, it has provided my connection to the Southern landscape since my arrival here twenty three years ago.

The songs of this region have given me an old, familiar narrative and a human history that connects to my own background. Some artists are happy to record every alien vista and strange culture travel can provide, but I have found this old tie important in placing me in this new land.

For many years I painted scenes; landscapes and urban views, old buildings and interiors, with not a figure in sight. Despite this, they were often described as being haunted by a human presence, and as places that somehow told a story. In these new works the figure has entered the scene.

The stories in these ballads are old, but one only has to pick up a newspaper to see they remain fully contemporary. Lovers still fall prey to despair and suicide, or end up in the crime report. These are paintings are set very much in the present, but nothing taking place in them is new.

The South maintains a ‘culture of honor’ that is a gift to any artist, writer or musician. Below are some links to books that deal with the history of the ballads and the cultural legacy of that music behind much of America today.