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  • Love Goddess #6: All Hail Northumberlandia! January 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval , trackback


    ***Dedicated to Invisible***

    Part of humanity’s long flirtation with the landscape has been the idea that a given locality is a woman. While not universal this repeats itself in many religious systems and sometimes has even made its way into the modern world through placenames. So, in Britain hill, mountain and spur names frequently refer to body parts, particularly feminine parts. The Paps of Jura is one example from the far north; Manchester comes from Celtic Mamucium, the Breasty Hill. The list could go on and we’ve not even travelled down to the pudenda… This seems to tie in, at least in the UK and Ireland, with the antique Indo-European idea, one we’ve looked at before on this blog, that sovereignty/the land is a woman who needs to be wooed and won. All this is a way of introducing the magnificent, extraordinary Northumberlandia, ‘the woman of the North of the Humber’ that rarest of things: a modern work of art that is worth getting excited about.

    face of northumberlandia

    Northumberlandia is a modern earth sculpture by Charles Jencks, landscape designer author of such masterpieces as Rail Garden of Scottish Worthies and Garagia Rotunda: ok we’ve not seen any of these but the names say it all. Jencks has taken a slag heap – hence Northumberlandia’s nick name, ‘Slag Alice’, note how these things are so easily sexualised – and made a four hundred metre love goddess for our series. Northumberlandia is not yet open to the public, but excitement is mounting. It will soon be possible to spend a few pounds and send the kids running a hundred feet up her winding breasts or take shelter in her nostrils. There seems to have been originally (see graphic below) the idea that the face would be specially sculpted. Well, either the job is not complete or the face, as it appears now, has all the charisma of a voodoo mask. Maybe that’s for the best. Beach has visions of airline pilots flying their planes downwards, seduced by flickering bracken on N’s eyelids.


    There has been a lot of misguided attempts to pair off Northumberlandia with the nearby Angel of the North, another modern sculpture, though one that will hopefully soon fly off into the North Sea. Beach prefers Invisible’s suggestion: ‘perhaps Northumberlandia and the Cerne Giant can get together and have a brood of hill forts’. No one is going to better that!

    angel of the northcerne

    Other love goddesses? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Ancient or modern, medieval or prehistoric.

    Love Goddess #5: Agnes ‘Madonna’ Sorel

    Love Goddess #4: Juliet, Verona and the Invention of Love

    Love Goddess #3 Ponte Vecchio

    Love Goddess #2: Lynne’s Madonna at Ely

    Love Goddess #1: Beatrice