Thursday, September 6, 2012


In the North of Britain, art patronage has long been synonymous with coal underfoot. Having millions of tons at his disposal, Viscount Ridley has upstaged Christopher Monckton's performance art by having Princess Anne  unveil the world's largest statue of a naked lady, the quarter-mile long coal spoil earthwork,
Northumberlandia , 

a bodacious synclining nude weighing a svelte 1.5 million tons. 

Ridley comissioned earth artiste Charles 'Capability Brown Coal' Jencks to spend two years atop a bulldozer, geoengineering slag piles and coal spoil into a bituminous Boudicca whose profile puts even the mighty Venus of Bolsover Castle to shame.

Invoking the muses may earn tax breaks in strip-mine reclamation, but how did an outcrop of coal-fired patronage conspicuous as Northumberlandia escape mention in The Spectator, which hosts the  Matt Ridley Prize for Environmental Heresy? 

The first such prize, L8,500 of wergeld for wildlife whacked by a wind farm elsewhere in Ridlandia, went to Pippa Cuckson's expose' of salmon-slicing hydroelectric turbines unleashed on Scottish streams. 

             Before botox: Northumberlandia awaiting her geoimplants & face lift 

Though Daily Telegraph columnist and  "independent anti-windmill farm candidate"James Delingpole applauded the contest, he never  explained why he finds the whirling eyesores less objectionable than massaging Northumbrian coal-tips into Page Three Sun Girls, a question Ridley skirts in his Rational Optimist blog:
When the Banks Group approached my family to dig out coal from under farmland we own, creating 150 local jobs, they also came with an imaginative suggestion. Instead of waiting ten years to put the rock back and restore the surface to woods and fields, which is the normal practice, why not put some of the rock to one side to make a new landscape feature...?

A good queation, witness Robert Smithson's still quizzical 1970 Great Salt Lake earthwork Spiral Jetty. Post-conservative art critics wonder if Northumberlandia may inspire Dick Cheney's daughter to convert Wyoming's abandoned coal pits into an inaglio Mount Rushmore of American feminism, or petition Congress to excavate a Martha Washington Monument rivaling the obelisk on the Mall?