With its colossal wings outstretched on a hill in Gateshead is Angel of The North, England’s largest statue. With its outstretched wings and iconic shape that is both geometric and organic, it is one of England’s most recognisable pieces of art. For drivers zooming past on the A1 or A167 highways in England’s north, the sight of the embracing angel with the outstretched wings is a welcome sight. Created by English artist Sir Antony Gormley, the grand silhouette appears for motorists passing through Tyne and Wear county in northern England.
The concept behind the artwork was to serve as an homage to the coal miners of the region, who spent two centuries mining in the area. It represents the transition into an informative age, and the awareness of space in its embracing posture. While admiring it on the go is the way most people view Angel Of The North, there is also a carpark nearby for those looking for a close up view.
Construction Of Angel Of The North
Construction started in 1994, after Gormley was select as the winning artist for the site. Hartlepool Steel Fabrications worked with engineering group Arup Group Limited (who also worked on the Sydney Opera House and Centre Pompidou) to create the sculpture, with construction finishing in 1998. The completed steel modules were put together in Hartlepool, and transported by three trucks and police escort to Gateshead, where 600 tons of concrete foundations were laid 20 metres deep in the earth. Cranes were used to hoist the final pieces in place, to create an armspan the size of a jumbo jet.
The wingspan is 54 metres (175 feet), and the figure stands 20 metres (65 feet) high. The sculpture itself weighs around 200 tonnes, with the body weighing 100 tonnes, and the two wings weigh 100 tonnes together. The entire project cost an estimated ￡800,000.
Antony Gormley OBE, born in 1950, is a British artist who has been active since the early 1980s. Much of his art focuses on the human body as subject matter, with his metal cast sculptures often based off Gormley’s own body.
Besides Angel Of The North, other notable artworks by Gormley include 2007’s Event Horizon, a series of 31 life-sized casts of iron and fibreglass which were positioned on the rooftops of London buildings on the south bank. In 2010, the sculptures were installed around New York City. Another similar work is Another Place (2005), which positioned 100 cast iron figures looking out to the sea on the muddy flats of Crosby Beach, Merseyside, England. The beach is the permanent home of Another Place.
Whether you view Antony Gormley’s Angel Of The North from your car travelling down the highway, or admire it from photos on your computer, it is certainly one of England’s most impressive sculptures, and an icon for the town of Gateshead.