Northumberlandia - Lady of the North, Earth Sculpture
Northumberlandia, Lady of the North

Northumberlandia (the “Lady of the North”) is a huge land sculpture in the shape of a reclining female figure, which was completed in 2012, near Cramlington, Northumberland, northern England.

Made of 1.5 million tonnes of earth from neighbouring Shotton Surface Mine, it is 34 metres (112 feet) high and 400 metres (1,300 feet) long, set in a 19 hectares (47 acres) public park. Its creators claim that it is the largest land sculpture in female form in the world.

Major Tourist Attraction

Footpaths around the sculpture

Northumberlandia is intended to be a major tourist attraction, with the developers hoping that it will attract an additional 200,000 visitors a year to Northumberland. It was officially opened by Anne, Princess Royal on 29 August 2012. A day-long Community Opening Event on 20 October 2012 marked the park becoming fully open to the public.

It has been nicknamed “Slag Alice” by some – a pun on slag (mining waste) and Slack Alice (an imaginary friend of comedian Larry Grayson and derogatory term for women).

Development of Northumberlandi

Map of Northumberlandia

Designed by American landscape architect Charles Jencks, the sculpture was built on the Blagdon Estate, owned by Matt Ridley, a journalist, businessman and author of The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature.

The £2.5 million cost was borne by the Blagdon Estate and the Banks Group, who carried out the construction work. The construction is part of the development of an adjacent open-cast coal mine at Shotton. For this project, it was decided to use part of the excavated material to make a land sculpture rather than return it all to the surface mine, as is normally done at the end of such operations.

More Detail about Her Creation

Northumberlandia, also known as “The Lady of The North” is a piece of public art built into the landscape of Cramlington in Northumberland.

Planned for seven years and built over two, she is the largest landscape replica of the female body ever seen in the world, her creators say.

She stands 112ft (34m) high at her tallest point, her forehead, and is 1,300ft (400m) long.

She is made up of 1.5m tonnes of rock, soil, stone and clay.

During a visit to the site last year, Charles Jencks, who began his designs for Northumberlandia in 2005, admitted the artwork was “much bigger than I ever thought”.

Her creation was part of the planning application made by the Banks Group and Blagdon Estate when they requested to create what is now the largest surface mine in England, Shotton Surface Mine.

Made from the by-products of that opencast mine, the figure is created in layers.

First is a core of rock, then clay and lastly soil, topped with grass seed that will withstand being walked on.

‘A New Angel’

Entrance to Northumberlandia
Entrance

Some of her features are artistically highlighted with stone from the mine that is often used for the restoration of old buildings.  The entrance to Northumberlandia takes the visitor through woodland before revealing the figure

Princess Anne will visit Northumberlandia in 2012 to officially declare the site open, although the public will not be able to see it for themselves until Wednesday.

Katie Perkin, communications manager for the Banks Group, said: “It cost £3m for us to create Northumberlandia. We wanted to give something back.

“When we end a project on a mining site we restore it. With this project we heard there was some local concern about a negative effect on tourism, so we decided to go one step further than usual and create a tourist attraction to leave as our legacy.

“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.”

Katie Perkin

Paths circle over the reclining body, offering views of Cramlington and a rare look into the nearby mine.

The Snowy Owl, a pub just to the right of Northumberlandia, will undoubtedly benefit from the development, but manager Gina Ward is also looking forward to the opening for personal reasons.

She said:

“I suppose it will bring extra business to the area, and that’s magnificent, but I love the idea and I love that they will be making it into a nature reserve. I think it is going to be brilliant.”

Gina Ward

Colin Battensby, from Blyth, who works in Cramlington said he travels past the site every day and thinks the creation will attract people to the area.

“I think people will come and see it like The Angel (of the North). I don’t know if people will come as a holiday just to see it, but if you’re in the area, you’d go.”


“I don’t know if people will come as a holiday just to see it, but if you’re in the area, you’d go.”

COLIN BATTENSBY

The Banks Group says there has already been a positive impact on the local community.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: The BBC

Source: The Land Trust