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She sells sea shells

February 27, 2009
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 Meet the Shell Ladies, the oddest inhabitants of Margate, a coastal resort in southern England.

I had to share this beautiful discovery! These seven foot tall crinolined Victorian shell ladies apparently pop up in surprising places all over Margate over the Summer months. Crafted from real scallop shells collected from local fishermen during scallop season, the project is part of the local Council’s initiative to involve artists in the town’s regeneration. 


These remarkable shell ladies are the creation of artist Ann Carrington, who explains the inspiration behind them:

“Years ago I purchased a beautiful shell ornament in the shape of an Edwardian lady from a now defunct souvenir shop on the sea front in Margate. She has billowing petticoats, a tight bodice and sweet bonnet tied under her chin. Every part of her is made from shells. 
There is something about these sea side ladies that epitomise  Margate – they have that  ‘Kiss me Quick’  kitsch of this quintessentially English sea side resort, yet they are beautifully crafted with an air of the fine ladies and gentlemen who once inhabited the grand  historical buildings that are central to the town.” 

Ann aims to explore the cultural meaning to be found in discarded and mudane objects through her work, more of which can be seen on here on her website.

Each of the 12 shell ladies have their own unique personality and each is named after a famous female resident of the town’s past, including Baroness Orczy, writer and creator of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and the author Marie Corelli. A permanent shell lady 9ft tall and cast in bronze – a scaled up version of the original – can be found at the end of The Harbour Arm in Margate’s Old Town. This is Mrs Booth, the seaside land lady whose house had spectacular views over Margate harbour and mistress of the painter Joseph M.W. Turner.  (Mrs Booth supported Turner financially  until his death, yet received no mention in his will.) More info all about the shell ladies can be found at http://www.theshelllady.co.uk 

Photos used with the kind permission of Ann Carrington. 

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Charlotte permalink
    February 27, 2009 5:06 pm

    Amazing! This really brightened my day- it made me smile :)

  2. Lindyhopper permalink
    March 3, 2009 6:31 pm

    How fantastic! Must go and visit them. I wonder if they’re only there in summer? Would probably get spoilt if left out in winter. I’ll look up her site.

  3. June 10, 2009 3:20 am

    Wow! Fantastic creations and so beautiful and imaginative! :)

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