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It was thought who better to explain the artist’s paintings for this important exhibition in 2019, than his friend and mentor Roderic Barrett, written for his first show at Chappel Galleries in 1996.
‘Here is a celebration of the ordinary. Not for Charles Debenham the noble architectural structures or the quaint preserved, but the kind of street that may be seen in many local towns and villages. Houses jumbled together, often with no sense of order, filling whatever space happened to be there, roof shapes, window sizes, lodged there by the aimlessness of history and the best efforts of various jobbing builders, or stationary rows of houses, all much the same except for the telling colour of a door, the gate that is different. It is these very ordinary characters which capture Charles Debenham and through his art engage us. Each painting encourages us to pause, begin to absorb all that is there, enjoy the individuality of the commonplace. Here are these gates, bridges, roads and houses, separate from us, indifferent to our presence yet possessing when looked at by an artist all manner of sad, amazing, moving, unexpectedly telling juxtapositions.
There is nothing phoney in these paintings, they are quite free of arty affections. This is a singular gift.
So here are paintings to live with and share with Charles Debenham the fascinating discoveries that he has observed and painted with so much affectionate care.
Roderic Barrett (1996)’
BORN: Colchester 9th August 1933, married Eilish. Two sons, one daughter
EDUCATED: Colchester Royal Grammar School; Studied: Colchester School of Art
Aged 14 Charles Debenham began evening classes at Colchester School of Art, training there as an illustrator full-time from 1948-53; teachers John O’Connor, Blair Hughes-Stanton, Hugh Cronyn, Carel Weight. In the early sixties he was appointed to the list of designers for The Crown Agents. His clients included Anglian Water, British Telecom and National Rivers Authority followed by National Power and National Grid for whom he designed the Central Features for both The London International Boat Show and the World Travel Market; for London Electricity, the costumes and giant floats for The Lord Mayor’s Show and Battersea Easter Parade. At St Paul’s Cathedral he designed The Royal Wedding (Charles & Diana) Exhibition. Debenham was awarded top prize for his pavilion for Bowater, at The International Fair, Cairo 1976. He also designed the USA National Pavilion at Palais Sud, Paris 1980 and Basel Expo 1981. The Merchant Navy commissioned him to create their float for the parade to mark the 50th anniversary of WWII.
1970 Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury
1980 – 2015 exhibited most years Royal Academy, London
1988 – 2009
exhibited most years Royal West of England Academy
Beecroft Art Gallery, Westcliff on Sea, exhibited several times: awarded ‘most distinguished work’ 1995
1996 (with publication); 2000 (with book); 2006 (with publication); 2016 (with booklet) Chappel Galleries, Essex past solo shows
2000 – 2008 South West Academy of Fine Arts
2012 Minories, Colchester ‘Timeplace’ (three person show: Debenham; Howey; Roscorla)
Beecroft Art Gallery, Southend
The Mall Galleries, London: New English Art Club; Discerning Eye; Royal Institute of Oil Painters
Exhibited with Brotherhood of Ruralists, Bodmin
Exhibited Hayletts Gallery, Essex
Exhibited Geedon Gallery, Essex
2019 ‘The man who painted Colchester and Sudbury’ Chappel Galleries, Essex with booklet (solo show)
Sir David Frost; Colchester and Ipswich Museums; Epping Forest District Museum; East Contemporary Art Collection University Campus, Suffolk; Madison Museum of Fine Art, USA; London Electricity National Grid (commissioned).
‘The Outdoor Paintings by Charles Debenham’ folder of 24 postcards published by
Chappel Galleries, Essex 1996
“Charles Debenham East Anglia” by David Buckman, published 2000 John Sampson & Co, Bristol;
Chas Debeham “From the Other Side of the Street” Introduction by the artist published 2006 Firstsite;
‘And Now You See It booklet published by Chappel Galleries, Essex 2016; ‘The man who painted Colchester and Sudbury’ published by Karl Debenham 2018;
‘The man who painted Colchester and Sudbury’ exhibition booklet for sales of paintings published by Chappel Galleries, Essex 2019
As above plus oil paintings in public ownership.
Who’s who in Art 2012; David Buckman’s Artists in Britain since 1945; Chappel Galleries exhibition 2006, and above publications.
Accompanying this exhibition: Book published by Karl Debenham Autumn
2018: Charles Debenham ‘The man who painted Colchester and Sudbury’.
Soft back - 96 pages - fully illustrated - colour reproductions - ISBN 978 –1-5272-3113-9 available at the gallery.
Price £15 postage extra