Thursday, 31 January 2008

Britten Memorial image used for charity concert promotion

I was delighted to receive an email a few weeks ago asking permission to use one of my images of Maggi Hambling's excellent Britten memorial sculpture at Aldeburgh in promotions for a charity concert by the Syred Sinfonia at Gray's Inn Hall in London.

The sculpture has been remarkably controversial in the area, provoking vandalism and attacks in the press. While it is true it is located on an outstandingly beautiful stretch of coastline between Thorpeness and Aldeburgh, I feel it adds to the beauty of the scene rather than detracting from it. The sculpture is a beautiful thing, taking the form of a pair of 12 foot high scallop shells. Maggi Hambling says of her vision:
"An important part of my concept is that at the centre of the sculpture, where the sound of the waves and the winds are focused, a visitor may sit and contemplate the mysterious power of the sea.."

Surely, Britten, who so closely understood the moods of the sea and of the Suffolk coast in particular, would have approved of that. The words cut into the top of the scallop: "I hear those voices that will not be drowned", come from his opera Peter Grimes, itself based on George Crabbe's poem The Borough.

My photograph was taken at the end of the day in April, with the late afternoon sun shining on the landward face of the sculpture. Balancing the highlights to ensure they didn't burn out was quite a challenge, helped by using a polarising filter to "knock back" the sky. My original image is landscape format and perhaps gives a better sense of the sculpture in the seascape. If you look closely at the top right hand corner, you can see a flock of seagulls - not dust marks as I thought the first time I viewed the image on screen!

Maggi Hambling:

Photographs © Hugh Weller-Lewis - all rights reserved