The Banks Group and Blagdon Estates recognised that whilst recovering much needed coal for UK energy generation and providing local employment, there was also a unique opportunity to create a spectacular art form that would provide a legacy for future generations. So the consortium contacted the internationally renowned artist Charles Jencks to see what could be done – and Northumberlandia was born.
This project is known as restoration first – taking an extra piece of land donated by the landowner, the Blagdon Estate, adjacent to the mine and providing a new landscape for the community to enjoy while the mine is still operational. The £3 million cost of the project has been privately funded by the Banks Group and the Blagdon Estate.
In 2010 work began and 1.5 million tonnes of carefully selected rock, clay and soil was transported from the adjacent Shotton surface mine to a neighbouring part of the estate to form Northumberlandia.
Once the major landscape works were complete the sculpture was blasted with ‘hydro seed’ which started to transform the sculpture into a living landscape. Her face, paths and viewing platforms were constructed with a hard stone surface with every feature surveyed and checked against carefully designed plans.
Rather than become a highly manicured landscape the park and sculpture will be allowed to develop naturally with minimal interference working within the grain of nature. The park will change with the seasons and mature over many generations.
The inspiration for the landform comes from the distant Cheviot Hills, which are pulled into the foreground by the curves and shapes of the female form used for Northumberlandia.
We naturally look for patterns and shapes in the landscape around us and the scale of the landform means the female form is not seen as a figure all of the time. As you walk around the paths you have to use this natural recognition of the human form to pick out the shape of the figure. For much of the time it appears just as a series of graceful sweeping curves and interlocking shapes.
For more information about Northumberlandia, please visit their website by following this link.