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Cash boost needed for Britten sculpture

PUBLISHED: 05:00 31 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

SUPPORTERS of a proposed sculpture in honour of celebrated composer Benjamin Britten are looking for financial help.

Rendham-based artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling OBE has plans to create a steel sculpture in the shape of two huge, broken scallop shells rising up from the shingle shore at Aldeburgh, the composer's adopted home.

SUPPORTERS of a proposed sculpture in honour of celebrated composer Benjamin Britten are looking for financial help.

Rendham-based artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling OBE has plans to create a steel sculpture in the shape of two huge, broken scallop shells rising up from the shingle shore at Aldeburgh, the composer's adopted home.

Fundraisers have to raise £70,000 for the project to go ahead.

They have set themselves a tight timescale in an attempt to have the sculpture ready to unveil around September 19 to 21 this year, when the town is visited by representatives from all over Europe as it takes its turn as Cultural Village of Europe.

To allow Ms Hambling time to create the piece, she will need to start work around March.

A steering group has been set up for the project. Its members are Simon Loftus, chairman of Adnams, TV producer and former general director of the Royal Opera House Sir Jeremy Isaacs, writer and broadcaster Humphrey Burton and Suffolk Coastal District Council cabinet member and Aldeburgh town councillor Maggy Wilson.

A major hoped-for funding source has fallen through for the project and fundraisers are currently writing to other potential sponsors. They have put out an appeal to potential donors to contact them.

Suffolk Coastal's cabinet is due to discuss the proposals in the next few weeks, and they are then set to be considered by planners.

Mrs Wilson said it was "a unique opportunity" to have what she described as "beautiful and very evocative" artwork which would attract visitors to the area.

"It seemed like a wonderful opportunity which celebrates the life of our most famous resident. Also, it would be a piece of public art and people will come to Aldeburgh to see it," she said.

"It's to celebrate everything he's done and the fact he lived in Aldeburgh. He's our most famous resident. Economically, I do hope it will bring people into the town. It would be a tourist attraction and also it's something very beautiful and something we are very lucky to have in Aldeburgh."

Maggi Hambling said she was "very excited" about the project and hoped people would "respond generously".

"I wanted to make a tribute now – his music is more and more played all over the world," she said.

"It's frustrating at the moment because I'm very keen to get started."

She wanted to "make this landmark tribute as a kind of conversation piece with the sea which is obviously what he [Britten] frequently had himself in the writing of his music".

"As with my Oscar Wilde monument, some people love it, and some people hate it, but that's how it is with art. You make the thing and then it's out there in the world away from your studio and people's reactions are people's reactions. Some people seem to be very keen, and others not."

She felt they would reach their fundraising target.

"It's the hardest possible climate to be asking for money with the state of the stock exchange and possible war," she said. "It's a very, very difficult time in which to be fundraising, but I'm optimistic."

She added that the sculpture was "a user-friendly piece which people may sit on or lie on but anyway, contemplate this piece of sea he [Britten] was so inspired by".

If you would like to contribute to the sculpture fundraising appeal, you can contact 01728 454012 or write to the Britten Sculpture Fund, c/o The Adnams Charity, Sole Bay Brewery, Southwold, Suffolk, IP18 6JW.

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