CBE 'maybe due to Scallop' says Maggi

SUFFOLK-based artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling has told of her delight at receiving the CBE in the New Year Honours List.

Andrew Clarke

SUFFOLK-based artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling has told of her delight at receiving the CBE in the New Year Honours List.

Maggi, who was born in Hadleigh and educated at Amberfield School, Nacton, before attending Ipswich Art School and the Slade School of Art in London, said that the honour was bestowed upon her for services to art.

Speaking from her home near Saxmundham she said: “I had no idea that this was on the cards at all. A letter arrived here telling me that I had been put forward for the CBE and I was just delighted and surprised. I have absolutely no idea who nominated me but I am very honoured and very grateful.”

Maggi, who had already been awarded the OBE in 1995, said she can walk down Aldeburgh High Street with her head held high, following the years of controversy surrounding the siting of Scallop, her 12-foot stainless steel tribute to the life and works of Benjamin Britten, which sits on Aldeburgh beach.

Despite a vote run by the EADT in which the public voted by 2,163 to 738 to keep the sculpture on the seafront, there has been a long history of vandalism associated with the sculpture.

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“I am presuming that my elevation has been in some part to Her Majesty The Queen recognising my contribution to public art, particularly with Scallop.

“I have devoted my life to art since the age of 14. Art is indeed a serious business. Food feeds the stomach, feeds the body. Art feeds the spirit. Without art what sort of civilisation would we be? This honour recognises the importance of the arts.”

Maggi then added with a chuckle: “Also I shall enjoy being a commander. When I was a girl at Amberfield I dreamed of being a Wren admiral, how fitting that now in my middle age I am now a commander.”

Maggi has become increasingly fascinated with the power and movement of the North Sea and has produced a series of dramatic oil paintings and sculptures which endeavour to capture the sea in all its various moods. She is also an acclaimed portrait painter. Earlier this year the two branches of her work were marked in two exhibitions. She celebrated the life of her close friend George Melly with a series of ghostly portraits in an exhibition entitled George Always and currently she is sharing gallery space with the work of LS Lowry as part of a linked seascape exhibition.

Speaking of her honour: “I really do feel that this honour is, in reality, a celebration of art and the importance of art in all our lives.”

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