Angel of the North

The Angel of the North, believed to be the largest sculpture of an angel in the world, reduces its solitary visitor to a Lilliputian scale.

The contemporary sculpture, designed by Antony Gormley and completed in 1998 faced considerable opposition during its design and construction phases, but the naysayers were ignored and it’s now widely recognised as a much loved and visited iconic symbol of Gateshead and the wider North East.

The logistics behind it are:

  • A 54 metre (175 foot) wingspan, bigger than a Boeing 757 or 767 jet and almost the same as a Jumbo jet.
  • It is 20 metres (65 feet) high – the height of a five storey building.
  • It weighs 200 tonnes – the body 100 tonnes and the wings 50 tonnes each, with enough steel to make four Chieftain tanks.
  • It can withstand winds of more than 100 miles per hour.
  • Below the sculpture, massive concrete piles 20 metres deep anchor it to the solid rock beneath.
  • Made of weather resistant Cor-ten steel, it contains a small amount of copper, which forms a patina on the surface as it mellows with age
  • The total cost of The Angel of the North was £800,000.

When its sculptor was asked “why an angel?” he replied “The only response I can give is that no-one has ever seen one and we need to keep imagining them. The angel has three functions – firstly a historic one to remind us that below this site coal miners worked in the dark for two hundred years, secondly to grasp hold of the future, expressing our transition from the industrial to the information age, and lastly to be a focus for our hopes and fears.”

And perhaps too, a much needed symbol of peace…

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