Today the Princess Royal will officially open ‘Northumberlandia’ a huge sculpture of a naked reclining woman at Cramlington. She is 1,300ft long and cost £3m. The sculpture took seven years to plan and two years to build and is the largest landscape replica of the female body ever seen. She is made up of 1.5m tonnes of rock, soil, stone and clay. The sculpture was shaped from the by-products of the opencast mine on land owned by Viscount Ridley. It is created in layers; a core of rock was then covered with clay and lastly soil, topped with grass seed that will withstand being walked on.
Katie Perkin, from the Banks mining group, which is behind the project, believes that the sculpture will rival the Angel of the North, 12 miles away in Gateshead, in popularity.
She said: “People have already taken Northumberlandia to their hearts. There was no intention to make a Pagan figure or mimic any ancient fertility symbols, despite her breasts which rise almost 100ft above the ground. Charles Jencks, the American artist who designed her, saw the far-off Cheviot Hills which look like a reclining woman. He has borrowed from the landscape and drawn those curves and lines into the form. Northumberlandia is just a lady, she doesn’t represent anything, but I think it’s understandable that people have their own interpretations. We held previews and worked with Disability North, amongst other local groups, to make sure the site was as open to everyone as possible, and I think we’ve succeeded.”
There have been mixed reactions from local residents, but the Banks Group says there has already been a positive impact on the local community.
Mrs Perkin said the Shotton Surface Miners were asked to contribute their ideas during development of the project. She said “Local hands made this structure that will last for generations to come.”
Northumberlandia will open to the public from Wednesday, after the private ceremony attended by Princess Anne. It will be open between noon and 4pm on 5 and 8 of September; further information on subsequent opening times is available on the website here
Written by Rose Hales, Monday 3 September 2012