‘Ecological vandalism’: combated Queen Elizabeth tribute gets green light | Northumberland

For its followers, the 55-meter-high turbine-wing-like sculpture jutting out of an isolated Northumberland hilltop will attract tourists and be a fitting tribute to the Queen and Commonwealth.

For opponents, it will be “ecological vandalism” that destroys the landscape, a work of art that would not look out of place in Communist-era Eastern Europe.

On Tuesday, a government planning inspector fell in favor of the sculpture and overturned a 2019 decision by the Northumberland County Council to deny a building permit.

This means that the scheme’s backers can go ahead with plans to install the work, almost three times higher than Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North, on Cold Law, a small hill near Kirkwhelpington.

The Elizabeth brand, which comes with a hiking trail, is called Ascendant. It was designed by artist Simon Hitchens and is intended as a tribute to the Queen in her platinum anniversary year. The work is made of steel and should look like a thin piece of the hillside, cut north to south through the bedrock and then tilted and raised.

Elizabeth Landmark artist impression
The steel sculpture, which comes with a hiking trail, is intended to look like a thin piece of the hillside. Photo: Simon Hitchens

Mary Ann Rogers, a local artist and gallery owner, said she thought it looked outdated, like something behind the Iron Curtain.

She is a co-founder of the campaign group Keep the Wannies Wild, which with 2,000 supporters has fought against the plan. “I’m completely crushed,” she said. “I live only a few kilometers away from the place and it’s a really special place. It’s a place where I go to go and be quiet and listen to the birds, so I’m totally horrified that they have to do anything. so wrong there. ”

Rogers said she was a fan of public art, but there was no good reason for the sculpture. It was not appealing either. “To me, it’s fierce, it’s triumphant and it’s big. It’s more like a scimitar or a knife or a sword.”

It was, she said, “ecological vandalism” and there was “monumental irony” that the decision was announced during the Cop26 summit.

The landowner and driving force behind Ascendant is the 3rd Viscount Devonport, Terence Kearley, who has insisted that the development will have a minimal effect on the natural environment.

He was, he said, happy with the decision. “It is our ambition to create a sculpture that is not only a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II and the Commonwealth, but which is also a magnificent work of art that serves as a beacon for visitors and tourists to the region – for the benefit of the local economy in rural areas and businesses. ”

The task now is to raise the estimated £ 2-3 million. to the project, where proponents admit that the battle is lost.

Hitchens said his sculpture’s design “recognizes the past, respects the present and strives for a better future.

“I believe landmarks will be a valuable asset to communities and the North East of England, as a cultural destination with a global reputation.”

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