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Dr Maggi Hambling

Honorary Doctor of Letters


Maggi Hambling is a prolific sculptor and painter, she is also a passionate advocate for freedom of choice in all aspects of life. As one interviewer put it, "She believes it's important to make a stand for the right to smoke what you want, drink what you want, wear what you want and love who you want."

Born in Suffolk, Maggi Hambling studied first at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing, then at Ipswich School of Art, Camberwell and the Slade. In 1980, she became the first artist in residence at the National Gallery, during which she produced a series of portraits of the comedian Max Wall – part of a long line of larger-than-life characters Hambling has captured on canvas and in bronze, including Stephen Fry, George Melly, AJP Taylor and her partner, writer and muse Henrietta Moraes.

More recently, she has turned to painting the North Sea near her house in Suffolk and experimented with more abstract works. In 2003, she was commissioned to produce a sculpture to commemorate the life of composer Benjamin Britten. The resulting piece, Scallop, split opinion in the seaside town of Aldeburgh where it is sited. "Children love it," Hambling's publisher wrote. "Lovers love it. Those paying tribute to lost loved ones gather around it. And there are those who would wish it melted down or carted away."

For Hambling herself, the process of making the work awakened a passion for the sea, Describing her seascapes, she says, "I make the waves crash against the canvas and hope that the waves crash in front of you as you see it." Famously disciplined, she is up and working from early morning until the light goes. "I try not to eat lunch," she says. "There is only one life. It's not a dress rehearsal. There is no time to be lost."

In 1995, Maggi Hambling won the Jerwood Painting Prize. In same year she was awarded an OBE for services to painting. A CBE followed in 2010.

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