This visit, to photograph Hambling's Scallop, has been on the cards for quite a while. The place itself is very pleasant, but hotel prices are excessive. The problem with photographing GT with this piece is that it is rather large, he, relatively is not and there is no convenient place to plonk GT and snap the work in the background. The outcome is, therefore, either a snap of the piece with GT all but invisible, or a snap og GT with a detail. I returned for a brief second visit on the day we left to try to remedy this but the sun's morning position was not helpful.
In recent weeks I have become unhealthily obsessed by the artist Maggi Hambling. Everything I have read about her suggests the sort of woman I would like very much. She’s bohemian, funny, a great admirer of both Max Wall and George Melly, two of my personal heroes. Like David Hockney, she is also a passionate champion of smokers’ rights. No, it’s just her work I can’t stand. …
What really infuriate me … are two of Hambling’s works for public spaces. I was recently in Aldeburgh, a place I love and have been visiting for more than 40 years. Walking along the beach with my wife, we spotted what looked like a hideous pile of rusting scrap metal on that beautifully desolate curve of shingle.
We walked towards it where it was revealed as a sculpture of scallop shells by Maggi Hambling, supposedly a tribute to Benjamin Britten, that is as ugly from afar as it is kitsch at close quarters. It has been repeatedly vandalised since it was erected in 2003, and there have been petitions by the locals to have it removed. But there it remains, spoiling one of the finest views on the east coast.
Even worse is her sculpture of Oscar Wilde behind St Martin-in-the Fields in London’s West End. Hideous is too gentle a word to describe it. Charles Spencer, Telegraph, 22 Sep 2009
The scallop was not commissioned by any public body, local or national; the considerable sum of money it cost was raised by hard graft, and its progress from idea to completion was slow and fraught with problems.
The unveiling ceremony did not mark the end of them for, quite unexpectedly, opposition was immediate and vehement. As Hambling said: ‘All hell broke loose.’ In his introduction to her short book about it, Stephen Fry writes that he has tried hard to understand why anyone loathed it but simply cannot. Nor can I. ‘Scallop’ is a glorious thing of power and beauty. From every angle it looks different, its surface changing with the changing light. A quotation from Peter Grimes is carved out of, not into, the steel. Through the words you see sea and sky. ‘I hear those voices that will not be drowned.’ Every time I read them, they mean something different, something more.
I rarely go to it without finding others there too; people stroke it, tap it, photograph it, photograph one another beside it; children clamber over it and curl up inside it, dogs sniff it, and more. Last week, someone had left a small candle in a glass there.
It is my favourite piece of outdoor sculpture. I love it not only because of its outward magnificence, but also because it does what its creator intended. ‘People are encouraged to have a conversation not only with the sea but with themselves. To listen to their own voices.’
I knew Ben Britten and I am absolutely certain that he would have loved it too. Susan Hill, Spectator, 23 Feb 2019
A lovely church and churchyard. The interior has, unfortunately, been modernised to open plan.