The Heroine’s Journey of Ella Guru

best thing I love about my work? As well as the process of painting itself, I have an endless supply of gorgeous tattooed freaks (in the best sense of the word) who will do anything I ask, as well as contributing ideas and props. Each and every one is an inspiration.

Here are some videos of me painting:

what is my idea of perfect happiness? A world where people do not expect to be ‘happy’. I believe that our heightened expectations, driven by the insatiable capitalist ideas that if we ‘buy more stuff’ we will be ‘happy’, are behind a lot of depression around us today. No one seems to be ‘happy.’ My idea of contentment is nature: the forest, mountains and seas; and animals, birds and the company of good friends.

greatest fear? Unfortunately I can’t move on from the fear of not being here. I know nothing other than this body, this mind, this life. The obliteration of all, the finiteness of life, is overwhelming to me.

trait I most deplore in myself? Self criticism. It’s taken about half a century of overthinking and hating myself for things I didn’t do, so I’d rather not dwell on this question.

living persons in my profession whom I admire? Sue Kreitzman and Diane Goldie, and many more from the colour tribe. I admire many of the Stuckists too, far too many to mention here without upsetting someone as I’ve reached the ‘forgetful’ age.

my greatest extravagance? Libidex Latex Sale, it would have to be.

on what occasion would I lie? Are you really asking this question in the “post-truth”, “alternative-reality” era? I’m rubbish at lying by the way. Always have been.

what is the thing I dislike the most in my work? When I have to paint straight lines. They are a bugger. I’m not wild about painting hands either. And it goes without saying that I HATE the paperwork side of it.

when and where was I the happiest in my work? Right here, right now. Can’t think of a better time. I have a lovely studio space with lots (sometimes too much) sunlight; the sea down the hill and the woods around the corner. And London 90 minutes away by train.

if I could change something about myself? I’d say a bit of Botox but even if I had the money I wouldn’t have the time…..I’d like to have more time for all the fabulous people I meet as well as all the friends I’ve known for years. An endless flow of interesting people come into my life– it never stops, in London, Hastings, Berlin – so a blessing rather than a curse? I just worry too much, mainly about not having enough time for everyone and everything, so maybe the worry itself is the bit I’d change.

greatest achievement in work? The Stuckists at the Walker Gallery Liverpool, 2004. And being able to paint full time as I am now.

where would I most like to live? If I had lots of money, I’d have a house in London, as well as one in Hastings. After three years, I’ve become rather partial to the seaside life. I’d miss the woods and water too much to ever move back to London permanently, if that was even an option financially. London is losing a lot of great people due to the housing crisis but it is still a vibrant and inspiring city.

my most treasured possession? Who knows. I don’t like to think I ‘treasure’ material things. Can I say my house? With housing being difficult for so many, I am grateful to have a house. And my pets, but they family rather than possessions.

most inspirational location in my city? If London I would have to say the National Gallery. If Hastings were a city, I’d say on the sea. Also for London, the nightlife, and for Hastings the seasonal festivals like Jack in the Green, Halloween and Pirate Day.

favourite place to eat and drink in my city? If London ( I was there for 23 years; it’s hard not to think of London as home, when I am so often back there), then … anywhere with good friends Drummond Street for vegetarian curry, and there was a good Vietnamese restaurant on Blackstock Road when I lived there. The Crown in Hastings Old Town is good for food, drink and sitting around the fire with friends. The Whistle Trago is also a good bar in Old Town, and there is the Horse and Groom and the St Leonard in St Leonards. In London, I’ve been mostly visiting friends or hanging out at God’s Own Junkyard, the Neon Art Museum in E17.

what books influenced my life and how? The first thing to pop into mind was the (Catholic interpretation of the) Bible which of course had an awful influence on my early life. But now I enjoy re-inventing Biblical scenes in a modern setting, with perhaps inappropriate models (A self-proclaimed Satanist as Christ for example).

who are my favourite writers? Yikes. I’m not even actually reading books at the moment. The last book I read was a biography of Lizzie Siddel, when I first moved to Hastings 3 years ago. I like to listen to audio books and radio 4 plays while painting. I like Margaret Atwood and the one who wrote the story about the guy who murdered his friend and assumed his friend’s identity, who also wrote that book about the lesbian couple in the 1950s.. argh what is her name? Memory loss…

music to listen to on the last day? Gosh.I can’t even imagine the last day. Maybe Nick Marsh, or the Mediaeval Baebes. Or Natasha Atlas. Certain voices transcend time and those are the voices I would want to hear. Ghostly choral music of some sort, to accompany me to the Other Side.

hero or heroine in fiction? Heroes or heroines were a question I struggled with in the 1990s when I was in the Indie Pop band the Voodoo Queens. The press would expect us to name famous people, but I would say my heroes were doctors and nurses. I couldn’t see why a footballer or actor would make more money than someone who saves lives. As for fictional heroes… Perhaps Doctor Who? I love the idea of the time and space travel, the aliens and the adventures. But I don’t know if that makes him a ‘hero’ to me…Medusa is good because she turns people to stone but still, I don’t know if that defines her as a ‘hero’.

heroes and heroines in real life? Here I am doing a questionaire about heroes and heroines yet I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea. “Hero” conjures up an image of someone who is somehow above others. There are people I admire, but I don’t think that I think of them as “heroes”. I have a lot of strong women friends, who manage households, careers and families. I think of my own mom as a hero because she did impossible physical feats like the Iron Man race and kayaking in dangerous waters, and also looked after my dad for 8 years when he was paralysed. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world so I admire anyone who really puts an effort into that role.

Movie. If I want a friend to know what it was like growing up in Ohio, I tell them to watch Heathers. But if I could tell people about one film to watch in general…? Mind draws a blank. Very few movies have a lasting effect on me. I mostly forget them after watching… the memory thing.

what role does art play in my life and work? Um…. A big one? Not sure if I understand the question. Art IS my life and work. Most of what I do – travel, museums, nightclubs, bands, people – is inspiration and/or reference for painting. And since all I do right now is paint, that is my work as well.

who is my greatest fan, sponsor , partner in crime? My muse, inspiration, and patron? Perhaps one day I will be able to answer that. For now I’ll just say there are many people to whom I feel much gratitude for their ongoing support on many levels.

who I would like to work with 2017? I have a massive hitlist and a whole bunch of other jobs on this year, so anyone I want to work with shall be on hold for now. Working with Le Pustra again is great though, and ‘research’ into pole dancing for a commissioned re-do of my Lovers Tarot card is also proving interesting.

Tarot paintings here:

people in my profession i’d love to meet this year? Well obviously Grayson Perry because I like transvestites – oh wait no one knew that…lol. Honestly I really do have so many plans already this year I can’t quite think beyond them. I like to go with the flow anyway and I seem to meet people all over the place so I’m sure interesting ones will continue to turn up.

what project am I looking forward to? All of them, but if I had to chose one it would be painting Le Pustra’s Kabarett der Namenlosen again. It’s based on an immersive theatre show in the century-old Berlin Ballhaus dancehall.

It’s impossible to describe so here are some links:

This one includes my painting:

where you can see me or my work in 2017? I mostly have commissions on, so right now don’t have time to organise shows. Hopefully someone will ask me to be in a group show or two (hint hint). I’m a reliable and organised person. Here is my website:

Passion Never Retires” – what does it mean? Well I don’t plan to ‘retire’ from painting. I just hope I am blessed with good enough health to paint until the very end. Life just gets better and better; aches, pains and ailments are the only enemy of the aging artist.

which heroines should Peter contact?

Two local artists spring to mind, coincidently also American-born –

Grande Dame: animator, illustrator, maker bright psychedelic objects of art as well musician and DJ.

Susan Diamond; Bringing the city to large canvases, with bold, strong female characters. And in London:

Vicki Butterfly – artist as well as performer and muse.

Marisa Carnesky: With a Sold out show at Soho Theatre earlier this year, Marisa brings together gore, humour and powerful women:

I could go on but time, time is racing and I have things to do etc .

how can you contact me:


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