ahoy there..! after being all at sea for a while, it was nice to be invited to contribute some small artworks for a group exhibition at the aldeburgh gallery, buoyantly entitled britten’s birthday bonanza, which opens later this week on the special occasion of the britten centenary celebrations this weekend – as friday 22nd november 2013 is the centenary of the birth of internationally acclaimed composer benjamin britten.
the exhibition, britten’s birthday bonanza, will feature recent work by three artists: sara johnson (watercolour paintings), gill levin (oil paintings) and chris mound (woodcut prints), alongside a selected exhibition of small artworks by artists associated with the art collective HWAT.
Britten’s Birthday Bonanza
21st – 27th November 2013
143 High Street
aldeburgh has become synonymous with the life & work of benjamin britten, a lasting legacy of international cultural importance to a once small fishing town on the suffolk coast – and a boon to local trade & tourism.
a leisurely stroll from the car park situated next to maggi hambling’s scallop sculpture (created in response to britten’s peter grimes) along the shingle beach is an idle pleasure later rewarded by the finest fish & chips to be purchased at the very other end of town… never one to push the boat out…
the liminality of sea, shoreline and shingle, a sliver of silver-green sea glinting in sunlight, or the percussive crashing of the waves, rain strumming over the marshes, the dramatic ever-changing skies, all nature’s moody atmospherics, playing out a performance indifferent to us…
benjamin britten was born in lowestoft, further up the suffolk coastline (his childhood home is now a fashionable B&B), and after studying & working in london and travelling to america, he later settled in aldeburgh with his artistic muse & partner, the singer peter pears (their final home, the red house, is now the location of the britten-pears foundation).
in 1948, with the support of peter pears and the writer eric crozier, britten established the aldeburgh festival, an annual event which attracted musicians and performers from far and wide. in 1967 the festival relocated to more spacious surroundings in the conversion of a former maltings building in the nearby village of snape. the new concert hall was officially opened by queen elizabeth II, who later returned to reopen it in 1970 after a fire destroyed the concert hall in 1969 just before the opening of that year’s festival.
the snape maltings complex is now the centre of aldeburgh music: a year-round programme of concerts and performances in tandem with a creative support and education programme for performers and musicians. snape is also the location of the snap art exhibition, and there are some impressive outdoor sculptures too (as written about previously).
suffolk was a source of much creative inspiration to britten; places of significance to britten’s music are included this interactive map of britten. there is more information about benjamin britten, peter pears and the special britten centenary celebrations at these websites:
Britten-Pears Foundation: http://www.brittenpears.org/
Aldeburgh Music’s Britten Centenary: http://www.brittenaldeburgh.co.uk/
BBC Radio & TV programmes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search?q=britten
BBC Radio 3’s Britten Centenary weekend:
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
[Ariel’s Song, The Tempest, William Shakespeare]