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There are few organisations as cynical in their attitude towards the public as open cast mining companies. Have you noticed how they always say what they are doing is almost entirely for the benefit of the local population and hardly for their own benefit at all? There should be a word for it. “Doing a Tarmac” maybe.

It’s very hard to find a mining company that has dug a huge ugly hole in the ground that doesn’t then say they’re going to flood it to make a water park or nature centre and that (almost) that was why they dug it in the first place. In some places migratory geese must go cross-eyed wondering which lake to land on. Of course, the fact that filling the hole with water is the cheapest and easiest solution for these holier than thou hole-makers never forms part of their motivation, oh no!

But here’s a double dose of generosity from The Banks Group and the aptly named Blagdon Estate who are not only favouring the locals by filling the hole with water but are ALSO being kind enough to sort of sculpt their spoil heaps into the world’s biggest figure.

The Shotton Surface Mine provides a unique opportunity to create a spectacular art form, which otherwise would not be constructed, whilst winning the much needed local coal for local industries.”  The Banks Group.

“How kind. Everyone’s a winner. Bladybladyblah. Heard loads of versions of that. Pull the other one.  Why not put the slag back where it came from rather than leaving us with a giant fat lass looming over us while you go off to Monte Carlo? Oh no, forgot, that would involve more expense.”  A Passer By.

There are lots more pictures here. It is hardly being sculpted at all is it? It’s some slag heaps with an enigmatic grimace! The slag (referred to by some as ‘Slag Alice’) is being dumped in much the way it would have been anyway – by the same lorries that would be dumping slag if it hadn’t been rebranded as sculpture – and with a minimal amount of sculpting – i.e. a minimal amount of real expense whatever is claimed. (What’s the sculpting fee as a percentage of the profit? 0.01% ? …. No? …. Let’s see the figures not just the figure!). Just look at those two breasts – they look like, well, slag heaps or should that be a slag’s heaps? Has no-one at Blagdon Estate seen a lady lying down? Or a recumbent goddess? Other than Madonna? Or is it that the sculpting budget is actually rather niggardly? Niggardly as in merely a part of the PR budget. No prizes for guessing.

By the way, we’re not against land sculpture, far from it. It would be great if the talented Charles Jencks was allowed (and adequately financed) to make a truly noble piece of landscape art. But for someone who actually wanted just that, not for the purpose of conducting a limited and inadequate makeover of an embarrassing eyesore! We know as heritage enthusiasts that landscape art can last for millennia, it’s not reversible. Should a project dreamed up as a PR stunt be imposed on the next 50 generations? Naaah.

Follow the debate on The Modern Antiquarian here.

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