‘Ecological vandalism’: embattled Queen Elizabeth tribute gets go-ahead

For its supporters, the 55-metre-tall turbine-blade-like sculpture jutting out of an isolated 诺森伯兰郡 hilltop will attract tourists and be a fitting tribute to Queen and Commonwealth.

For opponents it will be “ecological vandalism” that spoils the landscape, an artwork that would not look out of place in communist-era eastern Europe.

星期二, a government planning inspector came down in favour of the sculpture, overturning a 2019 decision by Northumberland county council to refuse planning permission.

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

The Elizabeth landmark, which will come with a walking trail, is called Ascendant. It has been designed by the artist Simon Hitchens and is intended as a tribute to the Queen in her platinum jubilee year. Made from steel, the work is meant to look like a thin slice of the hillside, which has been cut north to south through the bedrock and then tilted and elevated.

Mary Ann Rogers, a local artist and gallery owner, said she thought it looked outdated, like something from behind the iron curtain.

She is a co-founder of the campaign group Keep the Wannies Wild, 哪一个, 和 2,000 supporters, has been fighting the plan. “I am absolutely devastated,“ 她说. “I live only a couple of miles away from the site and it is a really special place. It’s somewhere I go to walk and be quiet and listen to the birds so I am absolutely gutted that they are going to do something so mad there.”

Rogers said she was a fan of public art but there was no good reason for the sculpture. Nor was it appealing. “To me it is strident, it’s triumphant and it is vast. It looks more like a scimitar or a knife or a sword.”

它是, 她说, “ecological vandalism” and there was “monumental irony” that the decision was being announced during the Cop26 summit.

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

他是, 他说, delighted by the decision. “It is our ambition to create a sculpture that is not only celebratory of Queen Elizabeth II and the Commonwealth, but which is also a magnificent piece of artwork that acts as a beacon for visitors and tourists to the region – benefiting the local rural economy and businesses.”

The task now is to raise the estimated £2-3m for the project, with campaigners conceding the battle is lost.

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

“I believe the landmark will be a valuable asset to local communities and the north-east of England, as a cultural destination with a global reputation.”

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