THERE will be a huge gap in Pershore in more ways than one now that landscape artist Mike Bibby has painted his last.

Larger than life and twice as colourful, the six foot seven inches tall Viking-like figure was a familiar sight in the market town, always colourfully clad in bow-tie or silk cravat and bright braces. He has died at the age of 82 after battling ill health on a number of fronts for several years.

Mr Bibby, who lived in Conningsby Drive with his partner of 20 years Pauline Gardiner, moved to Pershore in the early 1990s from Cambridge, where he had been head of fine arts at Homerton College before retiring.

"Mike was an extrovert, a good cook, music and wine-lover and general bon viveur," said Mrs Gardiner. "He was popular with the local traders and townsfolk and was a regular in those days at his local, the Star Inn. The landscape around Pershore was a favourite subject for his paintings and it was during this early period in the town that he painted a winter landscape of hedges at Wick, which became very familiar to patients at the Abbotswood medical practice, where the huge work hung in the waiting area for a long time."

In 1996 Mr Bibby moved to Birlingham to live with Mrs Gardiner and there he found inspiration and delight in the views of Bredon Hill and around the banks of the Avon. He was often to be seen trundling his converted golf-trolley, which carried his easel, canvas, paint and brushes.

"As a bird-lover he loved the tranquillity of the river banks and the call of the curlews," Mrs Gardiner added. "Later, as ill health and mobility problems made the golf-trolley impractical, Mike could be seen in the lanes on his mobility scooter, often in the late evening under a starlit sky on his way back from the Swan Inn."

For the Millennium, Mr Bibby produced a drawing of Bredon Hill for Birlingham Village Hall, where it is now displayed with other works from the project. He also held a successful exhibition in the early years of Number 8 Arts Centre in Pershore to raise valuable funding for the centre.

Mrs Gardiner said: "Mike had more than his fair share of A&E admission experiences, but he and his family have nothing but praise for the surgeons, clinicians and nursing staff at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Pershore Community Hospital and above all for the Pershore GPs and district nurses who cared so well for him for so long."

Mike Bibby's funeral will be private, but donations for St Richard's Hospice may be sent to E Hill & Son, funeral directors, of Pershore.