1945 - ?

Maggi Hambling

Margaret J. Hambling, was born at Hadleigh, Suffolk on 23 October 1945, daughter of Harry Hambling and his wife Marjorie née Harris (22 January 1907-6 January 1988), who married at Hadleigh, Suffolk in 1933. An English painter and sculptor, her best-known public works are a memorial to Oscar Wilde in central London and in 2003, a Scallop on the Aldeburgh beach in Suffolk dedicated to Benjamin Britten, both works have proved controversial. Maggi, as she is known, was educated at Amberfield School, Nacton, Ipswich where her art teacher Yvonne Drewry, described her as being her ‘pride and joy’. Hambling then studied at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing from 1960 under Cedric Morris and Arthur Lett-Haines, Ipswich School of Art 1962–1964, Camberwell School of Arts & Crafts 1964-1967 and finally the Slade School of Fine Art, graduating in 1969. She exhibited from 45 Tennyson Street, London in 1980 'The Mirror Bar' and in the same year Hambling became the first Artist in Residence at the National Gallery, London, during which time she produced a series of portraits of the comedian Max Wall (1908-1990) and Wall responded to Hambling's request to paint him with a note saying: "Re: painting little me, I am flattered indeed-what colour?". Hambling is well known as a portraitist with several works in the National Portrait Gallery, London, her style tends towards the expressionistic, with some portraits completed during live sittings and others painted later, partly from memory. During the 1980's she made a series of Suffolk Sunrise paintings of the Orwell Estuary and Hadleigh. On 30 November 2002, during the pause between making the Marquette for 'Scallop' and its realisation, her dramatic seascapes of the North Sea were begun. In 1995, along with Patrick Caulfield (1936-2005), she was awarded the Jerwood Painting Prize and in the same year she was awarded an OBE for her services to painting. Hambling is openly lesbian and her choice of subjects for portraits over the years has included many other openly gay people, such as Derek Jarman (1942-1994), George Melly (1926-2007), Quentin Crisp (1908-1998) and Stephen Fry (born 1957) and published editions of silk-screen prints of her portraits to raise money for the Terrence Higgins Trust. She had an intimate relationship with Tory Lawrence during which time in the late 1990's, also had an affair with the 'Soho beauty' Henrietta Moraes (1931-1999) as Moraes's life was ending. Hambling is an eccentric character who doesn't create art with the intention of pleasing an audience or fitting into anyone else's ideas about what art should be. In 2003 Hambling was commissioned to produce a sculpture to commemorate Benjamin Britten and the result was a Scallop, a pair of oversized, 12 ft [3.7m] high, steel scallop shells installed on Aldeburgh beach which caused some division amongst the local community with some complaining that the sculpture obstructs the view or is an eyesore that should be moved to Snape, whilst others say that it enhances the view and is a fitting commemoration of Britten that helps to attract tourists. In the first three months of 2004, the sculpture was twice vandalised by pouring paint over it and a poll in the local paper was held to decide whether it should be moved, the result was 2,163 to 738 in favour of keeping the sculpture but it continues to attract controversy, vandalism and opposition from the local community, who seem to object more to where it has been sited than its visual appearance. Hambling did not herself make the sculpture; it was produced by a local foundry from a four-inch [102 mm] model supplied by the artist. Hambling was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours and is represented in public collections throughout the UK, including The British Museum, The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, The Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from c/o Marlborough Fine Art Gallery
1996 50 Stephen Fry – bronze
1997 859 Stephen Fry

Works by This Artist