Three artists are developing proposals for a major new landmark which could become a fantastic destination in rural Northumberland to encourage visitors from far and wide to explore and contemplate the Northumbrian landscape.
The project aims to benefit local communities through increased tourism. The project is named after Queen Elizabeth II, not only the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch, but also the world’s longest-reigning queen and female head of state and current monarch. Add to that the fact that Queen Elizabeth II is the oldest and longest-serving current head of state and one has to ask, “if she doesn’t deserve a monument, who does?”
That’s exactly the question Lord Devonport of Northumberland has been asking himself for the better part of two decades, and now, as we reach 70 years since The Commonwealth established that all member states should be “free and equal under the guidance of Queen Elizabeth II”, he is putting plans in action to create such a sculpture.
Lord Devonport, or Terence Kearley, 3rd Viscount Devonport as he is also known, is a philanthropist and retired architect, known in Northumberland for his regeneration of the Ray Demesne estate on which he has restored buildings, replaced dilapidated livestock shelters and replanted thousands of native trees.
“I have a great admiration for Queen Elizabeth II,” explains Viscount Devonport, “she is the longest serving monarch, reigning for 66 years to date, she has navigated the Royal Family and The Commonwealth through enormous change and times of great uncertainty. She personally moved The Commonwealth into a free, equal and voluntary group of member states united by language, history, and culture. Unifying them under shared values of democracy, free speech and human rights. What she has achieved on the global stage, is a true inspiration.”
The Elizabeth Landmark, as it will be known, is set to be 60m high and, following a period of technical engineering development, will be situated atop Cold Law, a small hillside on the Ray Demesne estate, in between the five parishes of Corsenside, Otterburn, Great Bavington, Kirkwelpington, West Woodburn and Elsdon. The hill is outside of the Northumberland National Park area but has a fascinating industrial history linked to engineering pioneers of the region Lord Armstrong and Charles Parsons. It will be visible on the horizon from the A68 and surrounding countryside, and with plans for a purpose-built car-park, visitors will be able to walk around the landmark, learning more about The Commonwealth and our shared heritage through a series of commissioned poems
“I hope we can work with, writers and poets from across The Commonwealth when the final design for The Elizabeth Landmark is decided,” explains Viscount Devonport, “they will contribute to the whole experience of the landmark, with installations along the road to the site. This is a celebration of shared values, of a connected global community. In what is an increasingly fractured world, The Commonwealth is a unifying force, led by Queen Elizabeth II.”
Viscount Devonport has funded three acclaimed artists to produce a proposal detailing how they would tackle his ambitious project.
The artists are; Colin Rose based near Alnwick who is famed for his many public sculpture pieces around the region, Peter J. Evans based in Newcastle, and Simon Hitchens, based in the West Country, a sculptor for some 20 years with public installations around the UK.
“I have made a number of large structures to date, all of which have had their challenges; but the architectural scale of the project at Cold Law has brought new and exciting possibilities for a work that will be a prominent feature in the landscape.” Colin Rose
“The feeling of being shortlisted for such a project is both exhilarating and daunting. The scale at which the work will operate is rare and requires careful thought. I’m imagining a piece which moves and sits within the landscape rather than being placed upon it, changing with the passage of time and likewise with its conceptual framework; allowing contemplation but also open dialogue.” Peter J. Evans
“To have the opportunity to design a landmark sculpture to be placed in this raw and beautiful landscape is undoubtedly a challenge, and a privilege that I wholeheartedly relish. The success of the sculpture will grow from sensitivity to land and place: born in form, material and presence from the majestic geography that supports it.” Simon Hitchens
Residents, visitors and interested parties will be able to visit the exhibition of proposals in Otterburn, West Woodburn and Kirkwhelpington throughout May, as well as view them online at elizabethlandmark.co.uk and the public are encouraged to ask questions and give their opinions on The Elizabeth Landmark idea and proposals after which an artist will be chosen to take the project forward.
The exhibitions are:
9th to 15th May at Kirkwhelpington Village Hall
15th – 23rd May at Otterburn War Memorial
24th May at Corsenside Parish Hall (Woodburn Village Hall)
Exhibitions are free to the public and the organisers invite the public to share their views and opinions on the artist suggestions.
“A project on this scale, will need a great deal of planning,” Viscount Devonport continues, “the foundations themselves will likely need to be some 60m to ensure the landmark can handle the high winds that are so useful for the windfarm on the estate! We estimate some twelve months of planning and development exercises before we will be able to confirm exactly what The Elizabeth Landmark will look like. This is just part one of a three-part journey; initial ideas and design in 2018, detailed planning and development in 2018/19, and hopefully the announcement of the final design in spring 2019.”
The cost of The Elizabeth Landmark is estimated at some £1m, which Viscount Devonport asserts will not come from the public purse. “Without knowing yet the artist who will be chosen to take the design forward, we can’t know the cost of the creation of this sculpture, but we do know that we want to create a long-lasting, proud monument that will celebrate our Queen for many, many hundreds of years to come. We will explore our funding options in 2019 as and when we have selected the artist who will bring The Elizabeth Landmark to life.”