Artist writes book about her Scallop

IT is an iconic sculpture that has never been far away from controversy – with some loving and others hating its prominence on one of the county’s most popular beaches.

And now the colourful history of the Aldeburgh Scallop is the subject of a new book written by its creator, Maggi Hambling.

The Suffolk-born artist reveals the inspiration behind the stainless steel 15ft structure, its construction and the row that erupted after it was unveiled in November 2003.

The sculpture, which was created in honour of composer Benjamin Britten, who had a home in Aldeburgh, has polarised opinion.

While some believe it is a modern masterpiece others think it should be removed from the beach – even going as far as spraying it with graffiti.

The new book, entitled The Aldeburgh Scallop, is out now published by Full Circle Editions and has an introduction by Stephen Fry.

It also features the stories of those who helped out including engineers Dennis and Sam Pegg, who forged the structure, and Simon Loftus, who got together the money for the project.

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The book traces Ms Hambling’s love of the sea back to earliest childhood and records how this lifelong passion has fired her work, culminating in the construction of the sculpture rising out of the shingle on Aldeburgh beach.

“The scallop shell is the symbol of the sea, pilgrimage and the cradle of Venus,” she said last night. “It is a tribute to Aldeburgh’s greatest son.

“There are certain people who would like Scallop removed but there are also many people who seem to love her.

“There was a wonderful moment at the height of all the controversy when I was buying some fish from one of the fishermen in Aldeburgh.

“I said, ‘What do you think? Do you think she will stay where she is or will she be moved.’ With a twinkle in his eye he replied, ‘The only one who will get rid of that is Davy Jones.’ I hope that’s right. The sea has claimed Slaughden village and Dunwich and if it takes Scallop then I would rather that than human beings with JCBs,”

The book will be officially launched at Aldeburgh’s Jubilee Hall on Saturday at 6.30pm when Ms Hambling will be in conversation with Radio 4’s Martha Kearney.