Britten shell sculpture to be discussed

PROPOSALS for a shell sculpture in honour of composer Benjamin Britten are likely to be considered by councillors next month.Opinion in Aldeburgh has been split over plans by sculptor and artist Maggi Hambling to create a stainless steel sculpture in the shape of two huge scallop shells, which she wants to place on Aldeburgh beach near a beach car park.

PROPOSALS for a shell sculpture in honour of composer Benjamin Britten are likely to be considered by councillors next month.

Opinion in Aldeburgh has been split over plans by sculptor and artist Maggi Hambling to create a stainless steel sculpture in the shape of two huge scallop shells, which she wants to place on Aldeburgh beach near a beach car park.

But work on the piece is ongoing at steel fabricators J T Pegg & Sons of Aldeburgh, and private fundraising is now about £15,000 short of its target of around £70,000.

The proposed site for the artwork has been moved from opposite the Wentworth Hotel to a site further north towards Thorpeness and beyond the built up area after objections from the town council and the Aldeburgh Society.


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Suffolk Coastal District Council received 13 letters of objection to the original proposal, including some objecting to the siting, but has yet to receive feedback on the new plans for the site further north.

Aldeburgh town council is raising no objections to the new proposals, and neither is the Aldeburgh Society.

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John Jackson, conservation officer for the Suffolk English Nature team, explained: "There are issues to do with the construction and the precise position which we have not yet resolved. In terms of the trampling issue, we would see an area in front of the car park as the best location."

Suffolk Coastal District Council planners say the proposals, which went out to consultation about three or four weeks ago, are likely to be considered at the next development control sub-committee on July 23.

Aldeburgh town councillor Celia Leggett, said she had written a letter of objection to the new plans.

"My personal view is that stretch of coastline between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, one of the beauties of it is the openness you have," she said. "I certainly don't want to be perceived as anti art or anti Aldeburgh Festival because they do a great job."

She felt if the town had wanted a sculpture in honour of Benjamin Britten, who lived in the town for many years, they would have held an open competition.

Judith Foord, chairman of the Aldeburgh Society, said she was not against the plans, although other society members were.

She argued the idea of a competition would only have applied if there had been public money involved, but in this case, the project was being supported by private donations.

Maggi Hambling is unfazed by the criticism.

"It's always like that with works of art," she said. "You can't expect everyone to say 'how wonderful'."

She added: "Perhaps people will change their minds when the sculpture is there. This is inevitable – a piece of sculpture is a controversial thing."

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