Is it possible to make a work with purpose in a time that demands doubt? I wanted to make an object that would be a focus of hope at a painful time of transition for the people of the north-east, abandoned in the gap between the industrial and the information ages. Antony Gormley, Sculptor
Standing on a site that was once occupied by a colliery, The Angel of the North pays tribute to the industrial heritage of the North East of England. The Angel spreads its 54m wings to welcome all who enter Tyneside, and remind them of the workers who once mined coal in the ground underneath. The work was completed in 1998, having taken the construction company Hartlepool Steel Fabrications five months to build. The 20m deep foundations were laid by Thomas Armstrong (Construction) Ltd. Made from 208 tonnes of a special, weather-resistant mix of steel and copper, the Angel of the North is designed to turn a mellow reddish-brown colour over time as the surface oxidises. Standing 20m high (about the height of four double-decker buses), The Angel spans 54m (almost the same width as a jumbo jet’s wings), making it the biggest sculpture in Britain.
What the ‘experts’ said:
“I think it is probably the emptiest, most inflated, most vulgar of his (Antony Gormley’s) works… Gateshead is a self-inflicted wound. Bomb it, then you will change it. It is an awful place… most of the North is awful…” – Brian Sewell, Art Critic for the London Evening Standard
“The statue’s a monumental clanger” – The Sun, UK’s biggest selling ‘newspaper’
“Gormley’s figure is said to represent an angel, but it more closely represents an old clothes peg and a foot rule…” – Mail on Sunday
“I think the greatest thing for the ‘Angel’ is that Brian Sewell has classed it as rubbish, which must mean it’s good…” – Eamonn McCabe, Picture Editor, The Guardian
About the Artist
Antony Gormley was born in 1950, and is at the forefront of a generation of celebrated younger British artists who emerged during the 1980s. He has exhibited work around the world and has major public works in the USA, Japan, Australia, Norway and Eire. Public work in Britain can be seen in locations as diverse as the crypt at Winchester Cathedral and Birmingham city centre.In 1994 he won the prestigious Turner Prize. His work is currently on show in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Gallery, British Museum and the Henry Moore Sculpture Gallery in Leeds.
The Angel resists our post-industrial amnesia and bears witness to the hundreds and thousands of colliery workers who had spent the last three hundred years mining coal beneath the surface. Antony Gormley, Sculptor