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Maggi Hambling - Famous Suffolk Resident

Maggi Hambling – Famous Resident in Suffolk UK

Maggi Hambling, Artist & Famous Suffolk Resident


Maggi Hambling is a household name in British art for her work as a figurative painter, sculptor and printmaker, whose strong identification with her subjects is expressed boldly. Maggi's work can be seen in the British Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Collection, The Gulbenkian Foundation, and many other public collections across the UK and abroad. Maggi has many connections with Suffolk, having been born there and created the Scallop sculpture on Aldeburgh beach. Continue reading for more information.

Born in Hadleigh in 1945, Maggi trained at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing from 1960 under Cedric Morris, and then at the Ipswich School of Art (1962–4), before continuing her education in London. Hambling became the first Artist in Residence at the National Gallery, during which she produced a series of portraits of the comedian Max Wall. In the mid 1980s she turned to landscape painting, made in her native Suffolk. Her studies of dawn in the Orwell Estuary recall the luminous visions of the 19th-century English masters J. M. W. Turner and John Constable.

In 1995, Maggi was award the Jerwood Painting Prize along with Patrick Caulfield and in the same year was also award an OBE for her services to painting.

Maggi is openly lesbian and she has often made gay cultural icons – such as Derek Jarman, George Melly, Quentin Crisp and Stephen Fry - the subject of her portraits. During the end of the 1990s, Maggi had a relationship with the British artists’ model, Henrietta Moraes, who had been an inspiration for many artists of the Soho subculture, such as Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, and known for her marriages and love affairs. Maggi produced a posthumous volume of charcoal portraits of Henrietta, and pair we close up until Henrietta died in 1998. Maggi described Henrietta as her muse.

In 1997, Maggi was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to create a statue to commemorate Oscar Wilde – this, A Conversation with Oscar Wilde was to become one of Maggi’s best known pieces of art.

The other piece of art that immediately springs to mind when thinking of Maggi Hambling is Scallop. Maggi was commissioned in 2003 to produce this sculpture to commemorate Benjamin Britten. Scallop is a pair of oversized, 12 ft high, steel scallop shells installed on an expanse of shingle shoreline on Aldeburgh beach, and carries a quotation from Britten's opera that reads: I hear those voices that will not be drowned.

Maggi describes Scallop as a conversation with the sea:

"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,"

In rave reviews for her 2006 sell-out exhibition at Marlborough Fine Art and the monograph, Maggi Hambling: The Works, the art expert and critic Brian Sewell said Maggi had “succeeded where Leonardo failed”.

Maggi gave up smoking in 2004 at age 59, and was also involved in the campaign against the total ban on smoking in public places in England which took effect on 1 July 2007.

In 2010 she was awarded a CBE for her services to painting. And in 2013 she exhibited at Snape during the Aldeburgh Festival. Maggi still lives in Suffolk with her partner of 30+ years, fellow artist Tory Lawrence.

For more information on Art in Suffolk, please see:

Art Galleries in Suffolk

Art Exhibitions in Suffolk

Art and Crafts in Suffolk

Do you know something interesting about Maggi Hambling or any Suffolk artist? Please share the info with us by Sending us an Email!

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