Snooks, the dog, and Benjamin Britten – and his two daschunds
I recently looked again at Snooks, the dog, sculpted at Aldeburgh. He had been previously stolen in 2003 and replaced in 2012. He is still popular in contrast to the sculpture of Maggi Hambling’s 12 foot high scallop, mostly brown, shell memorial to Benjamin Britten (see below.) The shell is apparently inscribed with words from Britten’s opera, Peter Grimes, ” I hear those voices that will not be drowned.”
There has been much controversy between Hambling and local people who have been opposed to the shell’s location. Thus people’s attention was drawn instead to the statue of Snooks, who is not simply commemorated as such but was sculpted to memorialise the two local doctors, Dr Robin P.Macheson and Dr Nora Macheson, his wife.
I find it somewhat difficult to understand the arguments between the different forces. If nothing else, Britten who lived nearby in Aldeburgh had two daschunds himself together with his partner Peter Pears. An image of Britten holding one of his daschund dogs, Clytie, exists in the photograph taken of the both of them by Yousuf Korsh in 1954 and contained in the National Portrait Gallery.
Apart from his many operas, Britten’s symphonic cycle for voice and orchestra , to a text devised by Auden, was written initially in 1936 and entitled Our Hunting Fathers.The text included human relations to animals as pests, pet and quarry.The writing included reference to deliverance from a plague of rats, lament for a pet monkey, hawking for a partridge. I was pleased to hear this unusual voice material in the Barbican a few years ago.
Perhaps both the local residents -into one specific dog – and Maggi Hambling might have thought more closely about Britten and his dogs – and his interest in composing such music about British animals. I wonder whether now a sculpture of two daschunds might actually be recreated in Aldeburgh?