Antony Gormley is responsible for the creation of the modern sculpture known as “The Angel of the North,” which may be found in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England. It was finished in 1998 and is thought to be the largest angel sculpture in the world. Due to its proximity to the A1 and A167 roads as well as the East Coast Railway Mainline, it is viewed by approximately 33 million people each year.
The artist Antony Gormley used his own body as inspiration for the majority of his works, including the design of the Angel. The characteristic rusty and corroded colour of the sculpture can be attributed to the material that was utilised to create it, which was COR-TEN steel. It has a height of 20 metres and a wingspan of 54 metres, making it much larger than a Boeing 757 aircraft. It is able to endure gusts of up to 100 miles per hour (160 kilometres per hour) thanks to the ribs that run vertically along the Angel’s torso and wings. These ribs function as an exterior skeleton that directs wind towards the sculpture’s base.
The Commission and the Construction of the Angel
The sculpture was commissioned by Gateshead Town Council near Newcastle who approached Gormley about the project. Although initially reluctant, Gormley agreed to take on the project after visiting and being inspired by the proposed site for the sculpture, an old colliery overlooking the varied topography of the Tyne and Wear Lowlands National Feature Area.
Hartlepool Steel Fabrications was responsible for manufacturing and assembling the 208-ton sculpture. On February 14, 1998, the Angel was transported overnight to the installation site and the sculpture was erected the next morning. The Angel of the North encountered opposition during the planning and construction phases but is now widely recognized as an iconic example of public art and as a symbol of Gateshead and the wider North East region.
An Icon of Art and Engineering
The Angel of the North has been described as a work of art of epic proportion that spans humanity. The sculpture represents a modern interpretation of Christian angel iconography and reflects the importance of the North East region in the UK, both in terms of engineering and culture. The Angel has become an iconic symbol of the region, with its image used in a variety of contexts, from art to advertising. The sculpture has also generated significant tourist interest in the region, drawing visitors from all over the world to marvel at its imposing presence.
Antony Gormley has described the Angel of the North as a work that “attempts to speak of once and only once – the moment of passage of man on earth and his relationship with heaven”. The artist stated that the sculpture represents an attempt to capture the essence of the North East region, using the human body as a metaphor for the connection between man and the earth. According to Gormley, the Angel of the North is a work that aims to unite art and engineering, representing the fusion of aesthetics and functionality.
The Impact of the Angel of the North
The Angel of the North has had a significant impact on the local community and the wider North East region. The sculpture has helped breathe new life into an area that had been abandoned due to the closure of the coal mines, creating a point of distinctive reference for the region and attracting visitors from all over the world. The Angel of the North has also been used as a symbol to promote the North East region as a tourist destination and to encourage regional pride.
The Maintenance of the Angel of the North
Maintaining the Angel of the North is a complex operation that requires a team of experts. The sculpture must be regularly inspected and cleaned to maintain its distinctive appearance and prevent corrosion. Furthermore, the sculpture is exposed to the elements and strong winds, which means that the anchoring systems and foundations must be constantly monitored to ensure the safety of the sculpture