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“Jack in the Green” painting, oil on canvas, 90 x 170 cm
by Ella Guru

Jack in the Green through the eyes of Ella Guru

Painter Ella Guru has had her Jack in the Green works on show at SEED in Hastings Old Town for the last month. To mark the end of the show, she talks to Jude Montague about her painting and her love of Hastings festival life. 

Ella Guru was born in the US, lived in London for 23 years and has now been in Hastings since 2013. She paints mostly in oils, using her own staged as well as real life photographs as reference. She was a founding member of the Stuckist Art Movement in 1999, and continues to paint commissions related to the movement. She has been in Hastings for over ten years and as time goes on, the local landscape appears more and more in her paintings.

She loves all the local festivals and last year painted the Jack in the Green on a large canvas. It is currently showing at SEED a bar in the Old Town. She is also showing some new watercolours of the Jack in the Green and a print of a new canvas basked on Botticelli’s Primavera.

Ella: “I paint my friends, many who are performers, artists and musicians themselves. I like theatrical costumes and make up. But more than that the friends bring their own spirits to the paintings. They are collaborators not just shop window display beauties. There are stories behind each person. When I’m working with my friends in the studio they somehow know what I am looking for.

“When I was in London my friend Amanda Steele was in many paintings. Now I am based in Hastings, her sister has been modelling for me and she got exactly the expression I wanted in a recent painting. There is a sort of magic that happens in the photo sessions. When Sharon came to the studio the spirit of Obie appeared. Also once I met up with some friends and they knew what was on the next page of my sketchbook before I turned the page.

Extract from Primavera, painting by Ella Guru

“I like showing in bars because it’s a public space for everyone. Not everyone goes into art galleries. SEED has a friendly atmosphere and welcoming staff as well as great tapas and cocktails and has live music.

“I love costumes and parades. I love the old traditions, the pagan festivals. I love when ordinary people get dressed up and celebrate joy. When the drummers are building up to the slaying of the Jack, the feeling of the drums in the ground feel like I am connecting with something primal, the spirit of all the times past.

“At this point painting is my escapism as well as my ‘job’. I am grateful that I can do this, that I have managed to keep going, especially when I don’t actually get out nearly as much as I used to. My inspiration used to come almost entirely from nightlife. Now, I go to the beach during the daytime, which is always calming and inspiring. I go paddle surfing and observe how the waves move so that I can go home and paint them in the evening. So I work mostly at night. I love sunshine but it creates too much glare in the studio when it’s sunny so I go out, then work at night.”

Ella Guru in her studio by Anthony Lycett

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Posted 21:41 Sunday, Jun 9, 2024 In: Visual Arts

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