Saturday, 26 September 2015

Aldeborough; a conversation with the sea.

Our road trip to East Anglia was running out of time - it gets dark so early now.

We headed off to Aldeburgh by way of Leiston and Thorpeness, dodging the nuclear power station.

Leiston has always had a radical tradition, even if it was a minority in the town as a whole - this came from the agricultural labourers, the nuclear power station and the teachers at 'Summerhill' a progressive school.

However in the 1980's, to everyone's amazement, the people elected a clean slate of communist candidates to the town council.

What had happened was that the Tories election agent arrived a day after the time limit for candidates to put in their papers and the whole lot were disqualified.

I have no idea what this could be at the side of the road and I can only think it's a product of too much radiation;

At the quiet seaside village of Thorpeness I saw this sign - I fear it's possible that I may be a 'Nosebagtripper';

If I say so myself I think I'm looking rather jaunty with a sprig of heather in my button hole;

 Aldeburgh is charming; it combines an old working fishing town with a Victorian resort and's got really wealthy too.

It's best known as the lifetime home of the composer Benjamin Britten, probably the most innovative British composer of the 20th century.

This is the monument to him;

The quote "I hear those voices that will not be drowned" is from Britten's dramatic opera 'Peter Grimes'.

Here's an extract from Aldeburgh council's website;

Scallop - a celebration of Benjamin Britten

Benjamin BrittenBenjamin Britten - one of the twentieth-century's most important composers - spent much of his life in Aldeburgh and nearby Snape. The inspiration he drew from the area is most notable in the famous 'Four Sea Interludes' from his opera Peter Grimes.
In November 2003, a striking tribute to Britten and his music was unveiled on the beach just north of Aldeburgh. Scallop - a four-metre high steel sculpture - was conceived by Suffolk-born artist Maggi Hambling, and made by Aldeburgh craftsmen Sam and Dennis Pegg.

The phrase "I hear those voices that will not be drowned" (from Peter Grimes) is pierced through the steel, to be read against the sky. Images of wings rising in flight, swimming fish and the ripple of waves are all suggested by the work, whose scallop forms also recall ancient symbols of pilgrimage, Venus and the sea.

Indeed, Maggi Hambling thinks of 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," she says.

I like this - it works as a monument to the man and to the sea that was such an inspiration to him.

In fact, it's been repeatedly vandalised - Britten was gay and too unconventional for this conservative town - perhaps he still is. The sculpture is out on the outskirts, as much an outsider as Peter Grimes himself.

I like the fact that there is a mother and child hiding under the scallop shell in my picture;

Aldeburgh is old and very quiet while we were there;

But there are still working fishing boats; 'LT' means this one is registered at Lowestoft, the nearest big port;

You can buy fresh fish from shacks - we didn't get past this one;

We ended up walking along the sea front eating smoked fish.....mmmmmmh delicious!


It didn't stop us eating Fish and Chips as well, sitting at the sea wall and marvelling at the sky and the sea; 

We found Britten's old house - right by the beach but we didn't make it to his last house which is open to the public.

You can understand where his fascination with the sea came from, he grew up on its shoreline.

This is one of the old fisherman's lookout towers;

This summer it's the home of an art installation by Caroline Wiseman;

Lot's of people took part;

And there was at least one interested viewer;

Of course we left a pebble of our own;

Aren't people amazing?

Really funny;

We didn't want to leave, mesmerised by a sky that seemed to go on forever.

Then after dark we had to head home so we went via Snape Maltings home of The Aldeburgh festival and an essential place to visit if you are a fan of Severus Snape and Harry Potter;

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

No comments:

Post a Comment