Chamber Exhibiting Signature Shell Heart Sculpture Post Shell Festival

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Following its three-day engagement at the 85th annual Shell Festival March 3-5 at The Sanibel Community House, a six-foot, shell-covered heart sculpture will come to rest at the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce for about 90 days. Local artist Ginny Dickinson, who last year gained the attention of seashell-lovers with her shell-crusted manatee sculpture, is building the “In My Heart of Hearts” sculpture from her Fort Myers “she shed.”

“I’m an insanely crazy shell person,” said Dickinson, who works with all-natural materials such as feathers, bark, seeds, moss, and “anything I pick up.” Her inspiration and work on the heart sculpture began during COVID lockdown, when she collected shells on Sanibel and other beaches.

She gathered a number of intact pen shells, which are heart-shaped when opened flat. She began filling the heart shapes with other shells and materials. More than a dozen of the pen-shell works will grace the heart form, which is made of fiberglass over a metal frame custom-welded and -built by a company in Tampa that also does sculptures for Disney World, said the artist.

Besides local shells, specimens from Guam dating back to the 1960s and other places, which friends have gifted Dickinson, will cover the heart.

“It’s going to weigh hundreds of pounds,” she said. “I’ll probably need a fork lift to transport it, but I want to transport it myself, just as I did for the manatee.”

For last year’s Community Housing and Resources’ Manatee Madness fundraiser, Dickinson decorated her manatee contribution with hundreds of shells. “Manatee Mer” got a lot of attention sitting outside Bailey’s General Store before selling to a private owner. That attention led to Shell Festival organizers appealing to Dickinson for a signature sculpture for this year’s event.

“When I found out about it, I immediately contacted Ginny to see if we could display it at the Chamber Welcome Center after the festival,” said John Lai, chamber president and chief executive officer. “I just felt like it shouldn’t leave the island after such a brief stint. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the chamber’s 60th anniversary this year.”

“I’m so happy this heart can stay a little longer on the island,” said Dickinson. “My hope is that all who view this latest creation are intrigued by the beauty of the shells, find their favorite shells, and share a smile as they walk away. The heart is already getting a lot of smiles here whenever I am working on it. It will be crazy loaded with shells when completed. People will see something new each time they visit.”

The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting the prosperity of its members and preserving the quality of life of our community. With more than 460 active Chamber members from both islands and businesses from Lee and Collier counties, the Chamber plays a key role in facilitating communication and cooperation between business, residents, and government to enhance the economic health of the islands. The Francis P. Bailey, Jr., Chamber Visitor Center is located at the entrance to Sanibel Island and welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year. VISIT FLORIDA named the visitor center one of 13 official Florida Certified Tourism Information Centers in the state. It is open 365 days a year and provides comprehensive information about things to do, places to visit, and where to stay, shop, and dine. The chamber website receives more than 1.3 million website visits per year.

For more information about the chamber, visit or contact Landen Collins, communications and marketing manager, at 239-472-8255 or

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.