Maggie Hambling’s scallop sculpture on Aldeburgh beach attacked … again

The Scallop, Aldeburgh

When Maggi Hambling’s sculpture dedicated to Benjamin Britten and given to the people of the composer’s hometown Aldeburgh was vandalised in January of last year, police said they were ‘investigating’ the attack described by the local council as ‘mindless’.

Twelve months later and it seems the sculpture has been vandalised again. And if reports are accurate, it looks like it could be the same person (or persons doing it), someone with a preference for magnolia paint it seems.

Not everyone appreciates the sculpture on Aldeburgh beach, some dismissing it as an eyesore. Campaigns have been mounted for it’s removal. Similar campaigns have been fought to keep it. Fortunately the latter won out, but clearly not without a certain amount of bitterness still hanging around.

Shame. I rather like it myself. And contrary to the idea that it spoils the vista, I can see how like the music Britten wrote contributes to Aldeburgh’s global reputation, so Hambling’s original and arresting creation does the same.

What’s sickening – as far as I can make out – is that this isn’t opportunistic vandalism. Somehow that would be easier to process through. This is organised.  And that needs to be dealt with, because it’s getting tiresome now. And it’s hugely disrespectful to Hambling, to Britten and to all those who love both their work and Aldeburgh.


The Shard. A boy’s toy.

Architecture inspires. That’s obvious. Thats why people flock to Rome or marvel at St Pauls. Or, in my case, why I love the South Bank and in particular, the Royal Festival Hall.

But my daily train journey through London Bridge station has revealed evidence of another effect new buildings have on the population.

People waiting for trains stand on the platform and take pictures of The Shard currently under construction next door to the London Bridge site. And one look at the view they’re recording makes it easy to understand why.
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Free Thinking Festival 2010: Kevin McCloud

Kevin McCloud was speaking at the Free Thinking Festival this year in a lecture recorded for later broadcast on Radio 3. (I’ll let you know when it’s being broadcast, soon.)

I was meant to be tweeting during the event. What quickly became apparent during McCloud lecture was how difficult it was to tweet. Listening to him was akin to a specially extended edition of Grand Designs. The man writes beautifully and speaks even more eloquently. So much so that every single sentence is a 140 character tweet in itself. Little wonder that after a while I gave up, sat back and listen to what the man said.

And it was a convincing argument too. So convincing in fact, you’d be forgiven for wondering why it needed to be made at all. Doesn’t everyone already know deep down that mass-produced goods aren’t terribly good for our psyche. That cherishing those objects in our lives which have narrative, those which weather well and perhaps even improve with age is better for our soul?

His solution was simple. We need to return to respecting craftmanship.

His illustration – proof if you like – was simple: shopping promotes the production of dopamine, a short term mind-enhancing drug which temporarily makes has feel better about ourselves; investing time in craftmanship like extended periods of time spend making a sculpture promotes an alternative mind-altering and considerably longer-lasting drug – serotonin. Which would you prefer?

But there was a problem for me. McCloud’s is well-known for documenting the paths people follow in creating their dream homes. Grand Designs is about self-builds involving the kind of craftmanship he espouses. But they’re also projects which involve lots of money and considerable amounts of pain in the process for those pursuing – as far as I can make out – an extreme form of happiness.

During a short interview after his lecture, I asked him whether it was all really worth it. Just because you’re respecting the value of craftmanship in the end product, are the months of agony us viewers often derive a warped sense of pleasure in watching really worth it when the build is complete?

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London: Westferry Circus Development

Up at Canary Wharf, edging the River Thames and skirting Westferry Circus can be found the beginnings of a building which promises to be massive if the length of time laying its foundations are anything to go by.

If memory serves me correctly, the cycle path around this part of the Isle of Dogs has been out of action for nearly a couple of years. I can only imagine the building will be huge when its finished off.