Meet the Artists | Colchester’s Art Trail

Seven New Stories From Colchester Artists

Discover the third Street Stories installation in Colchester, and the seven amazing local artists who have contributed. After the initial callout, we had dozens of fascinating stories and pieces of art sent in which had to be cut down to fill just seven vacant shop windows. The range of themes and styles covered by the artists creates a unique trail on the history of Colchester and famous people and places within the city.

Ella Blaxill

Ella’s pieces share a bold use of colour and linework. Her Street Stories artwork is based around the Roman face pots found within Colchester Castle’s museum, having found inspiration and colour within their unique and comical expressions. Applying her unique style with the simple aim for the artwork to find joy in creating and to inspire joy in those who see her art. Colchester Castle currently has one of the largest collections of face pots within Britain, originally being hand crafted on pottery wheels causing the varied shapes, sizes and designs of each pot that Ella has beautifully brought to life in a modern setting.


Two women looking at the Street Stories installation by Colchester artist Ella Blaxill

Alice Nicholls

Alice Nicholls is a Colchester-based artist and business owner within the city centre. Her work focuses on large-scale realism drawings, using coloured pencils to create a blend of colour and realism. She currently is basing her artwork around hands as an incredibly expressive part of the body, telling an individual’s story. While the focus of the artwork is hands, each piece delves deeper into specifics around neuroscience and mental health issues. Her Street Stories piece ‘Reaching Hands’ is a powerful expression of the artist’s own experience of autism, hoping to inspire and encourage other neurodiverse people to find their voice through art in the future.


An ambassador of Our Colchester viewing artist Alice Nicholls' contribution to the AR art trail

Eleanor Church

Eleanor Church is an award-winning filmmaker and photographer with a background in documentary, investigative and creative works. She finds treasured moments within her work by meeting people and having the privilege to then tell their story through video, pictures and words. The piece used for Street Stories is called Together, We Dance and is a film and photo series that tells the story of local Colchester dance company Movement Space. The film features Jonathon Prestney, a professional dancer who returned to his home of Colchester just before the pandemic hit, sharing his story on mental health, the LGBTQ+ community and how dance helped him through his darkest days. This led to the creation of Movement Space.


Artwork installation by Eleanor Church

Ann Dowden

Ann Dowden is an artist living and working within Colchester. After retirement, she took up watercolour painting and finds enjoyment drawing whatever outdoor subjects catch her eye. These range from derelict buildings, trees and boats to rusting tractors and construction sites. Her current series of paintings are created in acrylics to record the numerous construction developments in Colchester and the impact of the changing landscape of the city on its local people.

Her featured artwork includes use of the construction project along with a piece looking at the University of Essex over the years. The work observes at the old original concrete buildings alongside residential towers and newly built student centres. Ann uses bright colours to reflect the bright future of the campus and its students, in contrast to the Brutalist style of the original concrete builds.

Ann Dowden

Ann Dowden's art filling a vacant unit in the city centre

Denisa Mansfield

Denisa is an oil painter living in Colchester, currently exhibiting in galleries and museums around the UK and internationally. Her artwork is known for exploring nature, identity and design using impasto techniques with oil paints. Denisa explores her own interpretation of forms and characteristics of evocative subject matters that relate to her life and surroundings.

Her work used in Street Stories is called Grapevines, a bright oil canvas painting filled with colour. It depicts field views using a mixture of fauvism and impressionist styles across the trees and grapevines. It is a beautiful depiction of the picturesque landscapes and nature found within Colchester. Having been created using Mansfield’s unique painting style, it truly celebrates local culture and society with its use of elegant details and bold textured brush strokes.


Denisa Mansfield's painting installed in a bank window to improve the city of Colchester

Maria Barnes

Maria started her creative career as a busker in the streets of Colchester, moving on to oil painting once the pandemic hit and gigs dried up. She is self-taught and has a passion for painting faces and landscapes, taking each commission or working piece as an opportunity to learn and improve. Her Street Stories piece is a lively, bright envisioning of Colchester legend Damon Albarn. Meeting Graham Coxon in Colchester in his younger years, they went on to become the Britpop icons Blur! Albarn then founded the animated group Gorillaz. The piece is special to Maria, as she used to regularly busk Damon’s hits from Blur on the streets of Colchester, leading to the inspiration for this high-energy piece.


A Street Stories installation of Damon Albarn by Colchester artist Maria Barnes

Shristina Manandhar

Shristina is a Colchester-based artist originally from Nepal. Experimenting with acrylic, she is a self-taught fluid artist using different techniques to create abstract art. She draws in inspiration from the range of colours, tones and movement around her from sunsets and the sea to flowers. She finds joy in taking risks when creating art, utilising a range of textures and colours with exciting results. Shristina’s Street Stories piece encapsulates the River Colne, helping a host of immigrants, travellers, food and produce deep into Colchester from the sea helping the city form into what it is today.

Colchester artist Shristina Manandhar's fluid art piece for Street Stories interactive AR trail