Striking new Islington street art paints picture of a lifetime of love


Artist was inspired by a beloved couple she met in San Fransisco

It is said that a picture paints a thousands words, and artist Jola Kudela hopes her latest artwork to appear on the wall of Islington’s Cross Street Gallery does that and more – in telling the story of a “beloved couple” she met whilst travelling in the USA three years ago.

The piece, entitled Lovers, was a recreation of a painting of the same name by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, which was part of an exhibition Jola was visiting at the San Francisco Museum.

On leaving the museum, Jola encountered an elderly couple who were sat enjoying lunch at a cafe, and the germs of inspiration for her piece – which is a combination of photography and painting – were planted.

Jola, who has pasted her artwork across her native Poland, and later Paris and London, said: “A few years ago I travelled to San Francisco where I saw a painting I fell in love with - “Lovers” by a Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo. And then, in the street, I saw Alfonso and Eleanor and I immediately knew they were my ‘Lovers’.”

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Upon meeting the couple, she learnt they were Alfonso and Eleanor. He was a poet and a revolutionary from Puerto-Rico, she an ex-nurse, studying genetics for fun.

Less is known about Eleanor’s backstory, but Jola managed to find out more about Alfonso. After moving to San Francisco in the 1960s, he became involved with revolutionary poltics, and integrated himself within the poetry scene. He then worked for a local bilingual newspaper to promote the arts in his neighbourhood.

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Alfonso died on Christmas day 2014 from lung cancer, and Eleanor a few months later.

Jola, 46, who now lives in Southgate, London, said: “They cared about each other very deeply until the end. This paste-up is a celebration of their lives and love.”

But despite her passion for her artwork, it remains a hobby, and not a career, for Jola.

In her full time job, she works as a special effects editor for films. She has previously worked on the Harry Potter series.

She said:“Whenever I take time out from movie projects, which are huge, I go to my art, it makes me live again.”

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