Friday, 31 July 2009


I was excited to see details of the latest work by Charles Jencks. ‘Northumberlandia’ - a giant sculpture in the form of a reclining woman, unsurprisingly located in Northumblerland and constructed from waste material arising from local mining operations.

I’ve been meaning to write about Jencks past work for some time, but had never quite got round to it. For the few that aren’t aware, Jencks is an architectural academic, writer of rather wordy, but interesting books and with his late wife Maggie, the creator of some extraordinary gardens. “The Garden of Cosmic Speculation” is his best known work, and in my opinion, it is one of the most astonishing works of art and design in the modern era. Below are images of Jencks recreation of the garden at the Scottish National Gallery.

I’m not sure they really do the garden justice (the design intent is rooted in some pretty mind-bending ideas of the universe), but hopefully they show how Jencks created a whole new design vocabulary, with chiselled and sculpted earth mounding.

Having been widely imitated, it’s interesting to see Jencks returning to earth shaping. For me this looks like a terrific project – taking something mundane and typically unattractive (how many restored mining landscapes really look good?!?) and turning it into something exciting, beautiful and unique. I’m really enthusiastic about works of art that become landmarks, so will look forward to seeing how this project works out. In the meantime I’m posting all the images of the project that I can readily put my hands on!

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