Shells sculpture plans take shape

AN ambitious plan to create two huge shells out of solid steel has been achieved at an Aldeburgh workshop.The steel giants – created by steel fabricators JT Pegg's under the direction of artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling – will be brought together in a single sculpture in honour of composer Benjamin Britten.

By Sarah Chambers

AN ambitious plan to create two huge shells out of solid steel has been achieved at an Aldeburgh workshop.

The steel giants – created by steel fabricators JT Pegg's under the direction of artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling – will be brought together in a single sculpture in honour of composer Benjamin Britten.

Those behind the project hope to have the controversial sculpture installed on Aldeburgh beach at a site designated to the north of the town some time in October.


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There were hopes that it might be unveiled during Aldeburgh's turn as hosts in the Cultural Villages of Europe scheme, when groups from the continent visit the town in September, but it was not possible to finish it in time.

Using temperatures of around 600oC to mould some of the 480 steel segments, and machines to bend them, Dennis Pegg has been labouring for the last four months to turn Ms Hambling's concept into reality.

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The impressive results have already attracted praise from those who have seen them.

The next stage will be to "break" the shells according to Maggi Hambling's design and weld them together into the sculpture's final shape, with the rounded shell lying horizontally and the flat shell upright.

Dennis Pegg said there had been a lot of interest in the project.

"It's turned out a lot better than I thought it would," he said.

"Everyone who's come and had a look has been very impressed with how it's going."

He admitted that it had been hard work, and in the early stages he was not convinced about it.

"I was sceptical to begin with, but then I didn't know how the job would go," he said.

"It will be very impressive."

Not only do the corrugations of the shell have to bend, they are also twisted to create an asymmetrical shape.

"It was hard going, but the more you do it, the more you know how much bend to put in the thing. It starts to get easier as you get more experienced in the job," said Mr Pegg.

Ms Hambling was clearly delighted at how the sculpture was progressing.

"Who would have thought at the beginning that this would become a reality?" she said.

"It has been made entirely from the maquette – no intermediary drawings. This has really drawn upon Dennis' skills as a craftsman and caring about getting it right."

Although it was still very much a work in progress, it was "exciting" to see it taking shape, she said.

"I think it's just so beautifully made – both of the shells. Dennis is very sensitive to the whole thing, and it's got great delicacy to it, and I'm really pleased."

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