THE life and times of two of this area's most beloved artists is the subject of a new show by Southend-based performance artist Scottee.

From Wivenhoe, With Love has been commissioned by Heritage Open Days as part of their ‘Unsung Stories’ programme and details the lives of Richard Chopping and Denis Wirth-Miller who made Wivenhoe their home for more than 60 years.

With Richard best known as the illustrator of the first James Bond novels and Denis an acclaimed painter of landscapes and dogs, of which some are in the Royal Collection, they were popular figures in the town, well known for bringing their bohemian London lifestyle to the sleepy shipbuilding port.

Inspired by the often anecdotal notation of queer histories, Scottee presents a new series of performances scripted entirely from local gossip, hearsay, speculation and distant memory from friends, acquaintances and others lucky enough to encounter the couple during their lifetime.

Stories include their World War Two adventures of collecting buttons from serviceman conquests, their threats of prison, and outings at Café Royal, to the guest book each visitor to their Quayside home was asked to sign and their barring from every pub in Wivenhoe.

Scottee says: "When my husband and I moved to Southend, we honestly thought we were gay trailblazers, until I found out about another couple who had done it years before us, and way better."

Meeting at the Cafe Royal in the Thirties, and their relationship beginning illegally years before the decriminalising legislation of 1967, their life together was one of glamour and intrigue, temper and promiscuity but also understanding and love.

Presented by Radical Essex, in venues across Wivenhoe frequented by these important trailblazer’s, contemporary artists Nando Messias, La John Joseph and Mem Morrison will recollect their lives, which will prove to be a factually incorrect, unrecorded history of one of the Essex’s finest queer couples.

Free performances will take place tomorrow, September 9, at 1pm upstairs at the Greyhound pub, 4pm in the William Loveless Village Hall and 7pm in the Wivenhoe Bookshop.