This weekend one of the area's best loved artists will be giving a talk about his work.

Anyone who has been living in Colchester for the past 40 years will recognise Charles Debenham.

Some may know him from his work, some may even have a Debenham or two hanging on their walls. More likely is that they recognise Charles as that man who hangs around street corners sketching Colchester’s street life.

With windswept grey hair and a distinctive RAF fighter pilot type moustache, he does rather stand out in a crowd, especially with a pad and brush in his hands.

But while he may have become a bit of a Colchester icon, the subjects he paints are anything but. They are deliberately everyday, with Charles often choosing to ignore the obvious.

Charles says: “It has to have something that interests me, whether it be an amusing scene or the way the buildings look in the light.

“I couldn’t have done this anywhere else. I’ve lived here all my life and I think you have to have a very close association with a place to be able to do the kind of work I have done.”

Charles, who is in his 80s, graduated from the Colchester School of Art in 1953 and still goes out six times a week to paint.

“I’m usually out for about six hours,” he says, “in rain, snow, all kinds of weather. I’ve constructed a little roof over my easel so that the water keeps off it.”

Charles also famously goes out every Christmas Day to paint.

“Well, it’s a good way to get out of helping with the dinner,” he grins. “One year I did a painting of the station at Thorpe-le-Soken which spanned the Millennium. I started it on Christmas Day and finished it on New Year’s Day.”

As part of his current exhibition at the Chappel Galleries, Charles will be talking about his painting on the street this Sunday from 12pm.

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