Life & Culture

It is life's greatest losses that most inspire creativity


Every new Stasha art exhibition includes among its works a paint-spattered pair of Timberland boots. She buys new ones each time she starts on a series of paintings and then, once the collection is complete, hangs them somewhere in the gallery alongside the art. They've become a sort of trademark. And they're evidence of the mess she makes during her creative process.

"The boots become a work of art in themselves," she explains, holding up the pair due to join her latest exhibition …And The Stars Shine Down. "Because they end up covered in whatever paint I was using."

Stasha (née Palos, now Lewis) is by admission a rather chaotic painter. Previous work - Jackson Pollock-esque drip paintings and various abstract florals, dots and landscapes – have been created using her hands, her fingers, squirted paint, hurled paint, even buckets of paint. It's not only the Timberlands that get spattered.

"I have a painting outfit and it's my favourite," she says, showing off her studio – a room in the gorgeous North London home she shares with her husband Tony Lewis and three kids. "You can keep your Gucci and your Prada. The minute I put on my old sweat pants and layers of T-shirts, I go into the zone. It's wonderful."

Those close to Stasha might be horrified. She comes from a family of fashion royalty, and they're not the types to hang out in paint-stained sweatpants and old T-shirts. Stasha's mother is Tina Green, her stepfather Philip Green. Together they own the fashion empire that includes Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Burton and BHS.

But fashion retail was never really Stasha's bag. She "dabbled in it" for a short while after leaving art school, before realising her true calling was in painting.

In 2000, after meeting her future husband (a fireman-turned-property developer) she started taking her art seriously - and this latest show is her fourth exhibition. The 12 works on show include dreamy and surreal nighttime landscapes featuring tiny houses, boats, flowers, moons, and lots of stars.

Stasha explains how the stars represent the souls of people who have died, including her recently deceased father Robert Palos and a lifelong family friend. "Losing not only my dad but my very dear friend left me feeling like Africa without the elephants and lions," she says, the emotion in her voice apparent. "My son told me once we were all made from the stars, so this is where we return. How beautiful and comforting to think those twinkling eternal lights above us are the shining souls of ones we love."

It's obvious the loss of her father to cancer still hurts enormously. Publicly exhibiting paintings that draw so much on this raw emotion will be a nerve-wracking experience, she says. "It's like baring your soul. Everything I paint is motivated by emotion.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive