Maggi Hambling: an introduction

When interviewers ask Maggi Hambling “what’s next?” she’s in the habit of reacting in two ways. First she offers some version of “I’m not a fortune teller! My work comes from life. From living.” And second she evokes a mentor who taught her that “the subject finds you.”

Hambling is primarily a painter, although she’s also well known for several public sculptures, including memorials to Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Britten, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Each of these sculptures have conjured some controversy — which Hambling denies being her intention, but also claims that it proves the work has some life in it.

As a painter, Hambling’s covered a lot of terrain. Drawing is at the foundation of her practice, with a long-commitment to portraiture. Concurrent to her creation of the Benjamin Britten memorial — titled The Scallop — she began a long series of wave paintings. She’s made work in dialogue with war and international conflict. And her recent work — Edge — has focused on climate change. 

I find Hambling’s work to be exciting for its vitality, commitment to discovery, risk, and formal skill. Her practice — that is the way she works, her method of inquiry, and her thoughtful modes of reflection — is a real inspiration to me, and has a rigor to which I aspire. 



Wikipedia: Maggi Hambling CBE (born 23 October 1945) is a British artist. Though principally a painter her best-known public works are the sculptures A Conversation with Oscar Wilde and A Sculpture for Mary Wollstonecraft in London, and the 4-metre-high steel Scallop on Aldeburgh beach. All three works have attracted controversy.


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