England’s newest piece of public art opens to the public this week. Northumberlandia is a human-form landscape sculpture, built with 1.5 million tonnes of rock, clay and soil. She stands 100 feet high and reclines over a distance of a quarter of a mile. But this isn’t just any old stand-and-stare exhibit; Northumberlandia’s enviable contours are traced by four miles of accessible footpaths, inviting you to walk all over her.
Artist and architect Charles Jencks took inspiration for the sculpture’s form from the nearby Cheviot Hills, guiding the peaks and valleys of the hills into hips, thighs, breasts and nose, but Northumberlandia’s feminine shape isn’t always obvious. As you walk across and along her, the sweeping curves take on a life of their own as the surrounding water features dip in and out of view. Northumberlandia is designed to change over time, evolving for different generations.
Northumberlandia is the most recent addition to the big and bold public works of art dotted across the English landscape. Here are few more.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit, East London
Designed by Turner Prize -winning artist Anish Kapoor, The Orbit is one of the largest public artworks in the UK to date. The blood red tower rises over the Olympic site giving a brand new perspective of London from its freshly redeveloped home in the East End. The disjointed stairs and swirling columns look rather like an uncompromising union between a helter skelter and a tangle of veins and ventricles. It’s when you reach the top that the sculpture really comes to life though, as two large concave mirrors bring the outside in and place you right in the picture. Somehow, it works.
Cerne Giant, Dorset
Over half of Dorset is a designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and looming large over it stands the Cerne Giant, at 54m high and 51m wide. Folklore has it that a visit to the well-endowed giant encourages fertility. Couples trying for kids visit the, ahem, ‘particular feature’ of the naked club-wielding giant from which it derives its nickname: The Rude Giant. And he’s not the only big man on a hill in England. The 84m tall Long Man of Willmington is cut into the chalk hills of East Sussex, while Wiltshire has a relative herd of huge white horses. No fewer than nine are carved through the turf of chalk hillsides overlooking the gently sweeping countryside.
The Angel of the North, NewcastleGateshead
Anthony Gormley’s The Angel of the North first spread its 54m-wide iron wings in 1998. After a controversial start, ‘The Angel of the North’ is now almost universally loved, and it seems the feeling is mutual; the 20m sculpture’s wings are angled forward 3.5 degrees to create, in Gormley’s words, “a sense of embrace”. Aw group hug!
Also in the North East and longer than a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, Anish Kapoor’s (him again) enormous Tenemos sculpture stretches a delicate lattice of steel cables between two gigantic steel rings over the historic Middlesbrough docklands. The 110m long and 50m wide structure was unveiled in June 2010 and Kapoor intended it to reflect the area’s industrial heritage.
And coming soon…
The English trend for creating highly visible works of art is set to continue – especially with those white horses. The Angel of the South, as it has been dubbed, is a proposed sculpture to be built at Ebbsfleet in Kent. Mark Wallinger’s sculpture will faithfully resemble a thoroughbred white horse. Only, at 160ft tall, it will be 33 times the size of your average steed.
Northumberlandia is open to the public at designated times from Wednesday 5th September, and more regularly from October, following a grand community opening.
Check out Northumberlandia for yourself when you book a great offer on Northumberland breaks at www.great2012offers.com