Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Shell Ladies of Margate

Margate's famous seafront has seen a clutch of new and glamorous visitors this Summer. Broadstairs-based artist Ann Carrington has created a bevy of conchological beauties that have set the town alight with their magical arrival. Based on the miniature shell figures so familiar to our collective childhoods, and still available in some seaside shops, Ann took their old-world charm and ran with it, all the way, it would seem, into the hearts of Margate's residents. The project has recently culminated in the grand unveiling (by Ann's son Isaac) of a nine-foot high bronze figure based on Turner's mistress Mrs. Booth. She stands on the Harbour Arm and gazes longingly out to sea, whilst her retinue of twelve other ladies are painstakingly fashioned from hundreds of real scallop shells collected from local fishermen in the area. Gliding mysteriously from place to place by means of hidden castors, these striking figures are based on the town's famous former residents, amongst them Baroness Orczy, author of 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' and Phyllis Broughton, the renowned Gaiety Girl from the 1890s. Walls and windows on Margate's seafront have recently been embellished with eye-catching signs, which enquire of the casual onlooker; 'Have you seen the Shell Ladies of Margate?' with the traditional Victorian device of the pointing hand that leads the way to their seaside lair. At once utterly contemporary, yet also possessed of an elegiac yearning for things of a bygone era, Carrington's Shell Ladies look set to lead the town towards its proposed reinvention as the jewel of the Kentish coast, dazzling all in their wake. To see more of the Shell Ladies of Margate, and to read about their creation, see


  1. Hello from Macedonia - Greece!

  2. I LOVE the shell ladies from Margate. Did you see them in person? I did. AND I followed them. Their favourite food is whelks. But I'm sure you knew that already... xb

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