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North Sea inspires Britten artist

PUBLISHED: 22:00 16 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 March 2010

THE wild North Sea off the coast of Aldeburgh and Thorpeness is the focus of a series of paintings by a renowned local artist due to go on show next month.

THE wild North Sea off the coast of Aldeburgh and Thorpeness is the focus of a series of paintings by a renowned local artist due to go on show next month.

Artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling OBE, of Rendham, near Framlingham, said she felt inspired to paint the scenes as she was forming her ideas for a huge sea shell sculpture in honour of composer Benjamin Britten which she is currently working on.

Cormorants and gannets, sea erosion, oil pollution, sunrises and violent waves feature in a series of oil paintings which will be exhibited at Snape Maltings concert hall gallery.

The exhibition will form part of the 56th Aldeburgh Festival and the 2003 Snape Proms and runs from Friday, June 6.

The works will be on sale, and £200 from the price tag of each painting will go towards a fundraising drive for the Britten sculpture, which is planned for the beach area at Aldeburgh.

"They all started on a stormy day last November. I go up very early in the morning to the sea between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness and I don't work on the spot, I just absorb it, try to be receptive and observe and absorb it, then come back to the studio and work from my visual memory," explained Ms Hambling.

"There are some paintings to do with erosion. The sea is coming up like a great mouth and eating the beach away," she added.

"The sea bird paintings began because I found a dead oil-soaked gannet on the beach at Thorpeness on Boxing Day morning."

She felt inspired to paint the scenes as she was working on her maquette or model for the Britten sea sculpture.

"They are all part of the same thing. These paintings are a conversation with the sea as the sculpture is a conservation with the sea," she said.

"There's something about the North Sea which is obviously the bit of sea I know best growing up here – the fact of it being an enormous thing. There's nothing intimate about it. The colours of the sea here are very mysterious. They are not turquoise as they are off the south-west coast of Ireland where I worked in the late 70s. There's nothing obvious about this sea and it's sometimes bronze, sometimes gold, sometimes silver."

The exhibition runs from June 6 to 22 and August 1 to 31 from 2pm until the end of each performance. From July 1 to 31, it is open from 12 noon to 5pm.

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