Page last updated at 10:17 GMT, Thursday, 8 April 2010 11:17 UK

Work begins on 'Goddess of the North' in Northumberland

Northumberlandia sculpture
The planned sculpture will be 400m long and 30m high

Work is to start on a giant sculpture of a naked woman which is to be carved into the Northumberland landscape.

The "Goddess of the North" will be made from 1.5 million tonnes of earth from the Shotton mine, near Cramlington.

It will stand 34 metres - 10 metres higher than the Angel of the North - and will be 400 metres long.

The sculpture, also knows as Northumberlandia, will form the centrepiece of a 29 hectare public park on the Blagdon Estate.

It is estimated it will take two years to construct and cost £2.5m.

Once developed, it is believed it will be the largest human form to be sculpted into the land, in the world.

It is being jointly funded by Blagdon Estate, who are the landowners, and the Banks Group, who will carry out the construction work. The company is also the developers of the adjacent surface mine.

Artist Charles Jencks insists his creation is not offensive

The sculpture - the shape of a woman lying down, formed from a series of hills - has been designed by artist Charles Jencks, who is best known in the North East for his sculpture outside the Centre for Life in Newcastle.

Mark Dowdall, environment and communities director of The Banks Group, said it was hoped the sculpture would attract an additional 200,000 visitors a year to Northumberland.

He said: "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."

He said there would be no fee to visit Northumberlandia but it was likely there would be charges for parking.

The plans to build Northumberlandia prompted opposition from some residents who complained the area did not have the infrastructure, it would distract motorists driving along the nearby A1(M) and was distasteful.

However plans were passed by Northumberland County Council in November 2007.

It is hoped to be open to the public by 2013.



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