CRAMLINGTON’S new Northumberlandia earth sculpture, as is inevitable with any development on such a large scale, is dividing opinion among residents of the town.
On the one hand, there is Wayne Daley, county councillor for Cramlington North, and on the other, seemingly, there is just about everyone else.
The £3m sculpture, believed to be the largest depiction of the human form in art anywhere in the world, has made a big impression since its official opening by the Princess Royal at the start of the month. But then again, being 1,300ft long and up to 112ft high, it was never going to make a small impression.
Not everyone is impressed by it, however.
One of the few dissenting voices is that of Coun Daley. “If we wanted something like this, why didn’t we just ask Jordan to open a theme park?” he asked.
He obviously wasn’t singing from the same hymn sheet as the thousands of people from south east Northumberland and further afield flocking to see it on the handful of open days held so far.
Norman Carson, a part-time caretaker from Cramlington, was among those visiting it last week, and he thinks that the sculpture and the 47-acre public park around it is a great idea.
The 62-year-old said: “It’s fantastic. It’s really something good, and it’s something worth seeing. It’s something different.”
Gary Timms, 57, retired, of Forest Hall in North Tyneside, agreed, saying: “It’s free to get in, so it’s good value.
“I like the site and they could have made it a lot worse. My favourite part is the views from the top.”
Brian Armstrong, of Cramlington, has enjoyed watching the site being developed.
The retired 65-year-old said: “It’s very good. I’ve seen it being developed, so I thought I would come and see what it is, but it’s very nice. I think it will be good when it’s really finished.”
Linda Golightly, 68, of New Hartley, was also in favour, saying: “It’s so different, and it’ll get people out walking. They love to get out doing something. We haven’t really got anything like this around the coast.”
Her husband, Brian also 68, agreed, saying: “I think it’s excellent. The way they moulded everything together with machines is a work of excellence.”
The sculpture, by US artist Charles Jencks, isn’t just of interest to the older generation. Teenagers from the town have also been going along for a look.
Kate Stoddart, 18, a student, said: “It’s dead nice. I want to know what is further down and how much of her body you can see.”
Her friend Hannah Fenwick, also 18 and from Cramlington, agreed, saying: “ It’s really nice. My favourite bit is definitely the face.”
Arron Musgrove, another 18-year-old student from Cramlington, was impressed too.
“It’s really good. The nose is nice, and I like the face because of the detail,” he said.
Northumberlandia was built on land donated by the Blagdon Estate using 1.5 million tonnes of discarded clay, stone and soil taken from the nearby Shotton surface mine. The £3m bill for the project was picked up by the estate and the mine’s operator, the Banks Group.
For details of future opening times, visit www.northumberlandia.com