I had a trip across to Newcastle and Gateshead today. It was a beautiful sunny winters day and a nice drive across the Pennines.
I was a little early for my meeting so I managed to get half an hour or so to visit the Angel of the North.
This is a contemporary sculpture, designed by Antony Gormley, which stands on a hill on the southern edge of Gateshead, overlooking the A1 and the East Coast Main Line rail route.
It is a steel sculpture of an angel, 20 metres (66 ft) tall, with wings measuring 54 metres (177 ft) across. Many people wonder what it signifies.
The body alone weighs 100 tonnes and the wings weigh 50 tonnes each.
Don’t forget too that with the good old northern British weather it would need to withstand winds over 100mph safely. So foundations below it contain 600 tonnes of concrete that go down at least 21 metres (70ft) and anchors to the rock deep below.
What Does It Mean?
The designer Gormley himself states that there are 3 meanings:
1. A historic one to remind us that below this site coal miners worked in the dark for two hundred years.
2. To grasp hold of the future, expressing our transition from the industrial to the information age.
3. To be a focus for our hopes and fears – a sculpture is an evolving thing.
There is more to this angel figure than meets the eye. The wings are angled forwards slightly by 3.5 degrees to give a sense of embrace when you look at it from the front or if you are travelling north.
Like much of his work it is cast in the shape of Antony Gormley’s own body. Known to be the largest angel sculpture in the world.
The sculpture has become a much loved icon of the North of England and is much photographed. It is, therefore, quite hard to get your own take on it. Here are my attempts.
I like to one with the view North towards the tower blocks in Gateshead with the Angel’s shadow in it.
Normally this would be a school boy error to have your shadow in the foreground of a photo… but when you are a 20 metre tall Angel it’s OK. I also like the one of the Angel ‘hiding in the trees…
I have done another article on an Antony Gormley set of sculptures over in the west at Crosby Beach.