April 14, 2010 | Brenkley News
The process of creating the world’s largest sculpted human form will officially get underway at a special turf cutting ceremony in the Northumberland countryside today (Thursday 8 April).
Around £2.5m is being invested by regional developer The Banks Group and The Blagdon Estate in the creation of the unique Northumberlandia landform, which will form the centrepiece of a public park on land donated by the Estate, to the west of Cramlington.
Four hundred metres long and up to 34 metres high, the Northumberlandia will be formed from 1.5 million tonnes of soil and clay taken from Banks’ nearby Shotton surface mine.
It will be created using bulldozers and excavators, with the work being undertaken by Banks employees from the Shotton site.
Northumberlandia’s designer, world-renowned artist Charles Jencks, Banks Group Chairman Harry Banks and Matt Ridley from Blagdon Estate will cut the turf on site to mark the official start of work on the project, which is expected to take around two years to complete.
Since the mine was given the go-ahead in 2008, the Banks Group and Blagdon Estate have been working closely with Charles Jencks to finalise the design for the landform park, which is due to be open to the public in 2013.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, says: “This is a real milestone in the process of creating what we are confident will quickly become a widely-recognised and acclaimed regional landmark.
“Northumberlandia and the surrounding park will be a wonderful place for local people to visit as well as providing a boost to the regional economy through increasing the numbers of visitors that come to the area to see it for themselves.
“Our plans have attracted great interest both from across the country and right around the world, and we are very satisfied to see construction works start at Northumberlandia.
“This artwork could not exist without the adjacent mining operation, which employs a growing workforce of 125 people directly on site and supports over 350 other jobs within the Banks Group. It also injects over £12m directly and indirectly into the regional economy every year.
“Northumberlandia will be part of the positive long-term legacy that the Shotton scheme was designed to leave, and we firmly believe that it will complement and enhance north east England’s existing cultural offering, attracting increasing numbers of visitors to Cramlington and the surrounding area for many years to come.”
Bob Downer, chief executive at the Blagdon Estate, adds: “Playing an active role in the creation of something that will be part of the local landscape for decades to come is an exciting opportunity for the Estate, and we’re very much looking forward to the realisation of Northumberlandia over the coming months.
“We have always tried to play a proactive role in enhancing the local community in a wide range of ways, and the opportunities that this scheme will create will bring many benefits to local people in terms of leisure, nature conservation and public health.”
Giles Ingram, executive director at Northumbrian Tourism, says: “Northumberland is carving out quite a reputation now for original artwork in natural settings – from the outdoor art of Kielder Water & Forest Park, to The Couple at Newbiggin, and now Northumberlandia itself, we have a growing range of world standard art with which people can really interact.
“Northumberlandia helps us draw attention to the fabulous natural environment we have, and combined with nearby pubs and farm shops will make an enjoyable day out for families.”
For further information about the project, please visit http://www.northumberlandia.com/