A MASSIVE earth sculpture which has been created as a major new visitor attraction in the Northumberland countryside will be given a Royal launch next week.
The Princess Royal will officially open Northumberlandia – the 400-metre long naked, reclining female figure – at the Shotton opencast coal mine near Cramlington on Monday afternoon.
Princess Anne will be joined by representatives of Banks Mining and the Blagdon Estate – who have funded the stunning £3m landform – to welcome it as the latest tourist attraction in the region.
The opening follows more than two years of work on building the sculpture, which has been dubbed the Goddess of the North, using 1.5million tonnes of clay, soil and stone excavated at the Shotton site.
Northumberlandia is the world’s biggest human landform, and forms the centrepiece of a 47-acre public park with water features.
Visitors will be able to walk up, over and around the sculpture, which can be seen by passengers and pilots coming in to land at nearby Newcastle Airport.
Travellers on the East Coast main railway line and drivers on the nearby A1 have seen her curves taking shape as she has become more prominent in the landscape over the last 18 months.
Monday’s opening ceremony will be hosted by Viscount Ridley, on whose land Northumberlandia has been built, and Harry Banks, chairman and chief executive of the Banks Group.
The landform was planned as a lasting legacy for the area in recompense for the disruption caused by the opencast coal mining operation, which was only given the green light by the Government on appeal in 2007.
Yesterday Katie Perkin, of the Banks Group, said: “Charles Jencks, the American artist who designed Northumberlandia, 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 has not been without its critics, among them local county councillor for Cramlington, Wayne Daley, who was a strong opponent of the Shotton mine. He said creating the landform was a “clever way” for Banks to save money on clearing the mining spoil.
However, local MP for Blyth Valley, Ronnie Campbell, welcomed the addition to the landscape. He said: “The views are absolutely fantastic, with the Cheviots on one side and the coast on the other. Credit to Banks for making it happen.”