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The Angel of the North (Tyne & Wear)

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Britain's largest landmark sculpture The Angel of the North stands on the pit head baths site of the former Teams Colliery. Made from weathering steel, the sculpture stands 20m (65ft) overlooking the A1. Its 54m (175ft) wing span is almost as big as a

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      19.09.2011 12:57
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      Iconic structure above the A1

      The Angel of the North is the symbol that announces I am getting close to home after a trip to the south. Standing 20 metres high on a windswept hillside, it is seen by around 90,000 drivers every day! Although I have driven past the Angel on numerous occasions, until recently I had never bothered to stop and take a proper look at this Northern icon. The Angel can also be seen by rail passengers on the east coast line heading towards Edinburgh.

      Getting there.
      ************
      Driving south on the A1, take the slip road signposted Wrekenton and Birtley, 5 miles from the Metro centre. Then take the A167 signposted Gateshead south. The parking area for the Angel is a few hundred yards along this road on the left. The car park is fairly small and has 4 disabled parking bays.

      The Angel.
      **********
      Having seen the Angel from the A1, I really hadn't truly appreciated just how big this structure actually is! At 20 metres tall and with a wingspan of 54 metres the Angel is an awesome sight. The Angel was designed by the sculptor Antony Gormley and completed in February 1998 at a cost of over £800.000.It is situated on an exposed hillside, the site of a former colliery, and has to be strong enough to withstand winds of over 100mph. The Angel weighs a staggering 208 tonnes.

      The Angel is made of weather resistant steel that is designed to mellow with age. It has been designed to last for at least 100 years. From the road I think the Angels wings look straight. Once up close to the structure I can see that the wings are not straight but angled slightly forward to give the impression they are embracing you.

      On the day we visited we took a picnic and ate at the feet of the Angel. There are no refreshments available on the site and be warned it is very exposed and can be cold and windy.

      To be honest I wouldn't make a special journey to visit the Angel but am glad I made the detour to take closer look. You really do need to get up close to this amazing structure to appreciate its scale. Although the Angel is a controversial structure you have to marvel at the engineering that made it possible!

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        27.02.2009 01:14
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        Go and see it up close if you can, it's really different

        We visited the Angel of the North on our way to a short break in Northumberland. It was almost as an afterthought that we decided to go and find it and see what all the fuss was about.

        We are not artists nor do we know anything about art, but, as the saying goes, 'we know what we like'

        And wow, I like this.

        I had seen it on the news and read about it in the newspapers and all that, but I must admit I thought it sounded awful - another example of an artist being given an obscene amount of money to produce a pile of scrap, basically (or sometimes maybe you could take the 's' off!)

        We were surprised to find that there is no specified car-parking though: Considering it's at the side of the A1 near Gateshead, and people are going to want to visit this structure, it seemed a bit of an oversight that people were having to just pull up on the pavement of the side road. Not very well organised.

        Anyway, it's up on the top of a hill, then on it's own mound on top of that: As we walked up towards it, I suddenly realised how fantastic it is: Standing in front of it, head back, looking up at it, what hits you is the scale of it - It's so tall, then you see the wings spreading out to the side and it feels quite moving for some reason, like it's symbolically protecting the area around it.

        I like the idea that it's a piece of work that's totally open to the public - We were able to sit on it's (his?) feet for photos, and we noticed that many people had scratched their names and messages into the metal.

        There were no restrictions on what you could do around it, and of course no charge to go right up to it, which makes a refreshing change.

        I even like the idea that the metal is supposed to rust - it's not some precious artefact, locked away from everyone, it's out there in all weathers for everyone to enjoy.


        Make a point of going to see it close-up if you can, it's something really different.

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          10.12.2007 22:57
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          The Northern angel

          Angel of the North

          Heralding as I do from Newcastle, and having always thought of this as my home town regardless of where I have lived, I watched the erection of this structure with interest. Its completion in 1998 heralded much interest and it has recently been voted fifth modern wonder of Britain.

          Built on a panoramic site on a hilltop, the angel is, to me, a symbol of "coming home". At the top of the hill where the angel stands to the right of me, I can look downwards and see the whole of Tyneside spread beneath me. Some 90000 drivers driving along the A1 each year see this sculpture, and it can also be seen by passengers travelling on the East Coast train line from London to Edinburgh. No small wonder then that so many people has seen it without actually having visited it.

          The angel itself was commissioned by Gateshead Council as a landmark sculpture at the entrance to Tyneside, and indeed, its open spread wings seem to welcome people to the region. The site was selected because it was on a former pit head, and this seemed to symbolise the rich mining tradition of the region. Indeed the artist himself, Andrew Gormley, made the observation that the fact that men worked in the dark beneath the ground has a symbolic link to the fact that they are remembered in the light.

          The sculpture can be visited most easily by car, and as a visitor travels along the A1, it is well signposted. There are also bus links, but these are best checked with individual companies, as timetables seem to change. One thing to note is that there is car parking space for only about 15 cars. This has never troubled me when I have visited but could be problematic if visiting on a clear sunny day when lots of other people are visiting. During school term time, it's also worth remembering that many school parties visit the sculpture, and I would suggest that to appreciate its magnitude and scale, a visit on a day when you can be almost alone is recommended.

          Seeing the Angel of the North from the road in no way prepares the visitor for the size of it. I blithely travelled this route on a daily basis, watching its construction form the comfort of the car, but until I had actually been up close to it, I had no idea of the scale. The sculpture itself is 20 metres high and has a wing span of 54 metres. I like to get it into perspective when explaining these sizes to children, and it's almost unbelievable that the wingspan is almost the length of a Jumbo Jet, and that the height is the same as 4 double decker buses. There are lots of available facts about the weight and the making of the sculpture, and once we begin to read about it, it really is fascinating.

          When it was first erected, it was a bright shiny monument, and it was almost with disappointment that we watched it "rust". The colour has now become something I have grown used to...seems steel doesn't stay shiny forever.

          For visitors, I would recommend getting really close to the sculpture, and seeing just how small you are next to its gigantic foot. The whole site has a sort of bleak appeal, and can feel quite eerie if all alone.

          For anyone visiting the region, I would certainly recommend taking the small detour off the motorway to the site to see this magnificent sculpture, which is said to be the largest sculpture of an angel in the world, and one which is most certainly iconic.

          Thanks for reading.

          Daniela x

          There are Lots of websites showing pictures and giving information for anyone wanting to visit the sculpture. Usually a general search will do the trick.

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            26.03.2002 22:21
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            The Angel of the North is situated at Eighton Banks in Gateshead next to the A1 (Western Bypass) and about three miles from Gateshead Metro Centre; it was built on a hilltop site over an old coalmine and can be seen by passengers travelling by train on the East Coast mainline from London to Edinburgh as well as over ninety-thousand motorists a day. Money was allocated, mainly from the National Lottery, to be spent on art in Gateshead and the Local Authority commissioned the British artist Anthony Gormley to create a sculpture specifically for the Eighton Bank site, his brief was to create something symbolic of the area to reflect the decline of heavy industry in the North East, the economic re-birth of the area and be a landmark work of public art to take away the starkness of the skyline visible from a distance. Anthony Gormley was born in 1950 and he is thought to be at the forefront of a generation of celebrated younger British artists who emerged during the 1980’s, he won the Turner Prize in 1994 and has major public works in the USA, Japan, Australia, Norway and Eire. The Angel of the North basically takes the form of a human figure based on the artist’s own body; it is made of weather resistant steel, containing copper to form a patina on the surface that will mellow with age, it has been built to last for more than one hundred years and withstand winds of more than one hundred miles per hour. Weighing two hundred and eight tonne the Angel stands sixty-five feet high (twenty metres), which is higher than a five-storey building and has a wingspan of one hundred and sixty-nine feet (fifty-four metres), which is approximately the same as a jumbo jet. The Angel is anchored in to solid rock seventy-one feet (twenty-two metres) below ground by massive concrete piles weighing one hundred and eight tonne of the total weight of the structure. The Angel’s body is hollow to allow for internal inspections and
            has an access door high up on one of the shoulder blades, the face does not have individual features and the wings are positioned at about three point five degrees to give a sense of embrace. The sculpture cost £800,000 and was unveiled in early 1998; it is the largest sculpture in Britain. Before the arrival of the Angel most people in the region were opposed to it, the artist’s impressions that we were shown looked hideous and people argued that the money could be better spent elsewhere, such as Education, Health or Police. Those who were in favour of the Angel argued that if we did not spend the money on the Arts it would be used elsewhere in the Country, it was not for us to decide what the money was spent on it was allocated for the Arts. Now we have the Angel it is still a subject for debate in the pubs and social clubs in the area and occasionally on radio phone-ins. I have heard people describe the Angel as a rusty heap, which would look better if it were painted, others have said it reflects the myth of Icarus and mankind’s longing to fly, Lord Gowrie, chairman of the Arts Council described it thus “It’s a witness to life at the end of the twentieth Century. The car is a human body isolated in a bubble, not communicating with anyone else. The Angel is trying to ask ‘is that all we are?’” For me the Angel of the North reflects the spirit of the North East, its red rusty frame depicts the sad decline of the shipyards and coal mining industry with all the secondary jobs associated with heavy industry, the position of its wings and stature depict the regeneration of the area through cleaner, fresher air and an influx of new jobs – Tyneside is now thought of as the call centre capital of the Country. The Angel rises from the old abandoned coalmine below ground and dominates the skyline of the area, it can be seen for miles and attracts visitors from around the world; it has hi
            ghlighted Gateshead on the map. I have passed the Angel many times now and no matter what time of the day or night it is there are always people walking around its base, I’ve passed at dawn on my way to the airport, very late evening coming home and numerous times throughout the day, people take picnics and sit by the Angel and take photos day and night. At the dawn of the new millennium the Angel seemed to be one of the places to be and people made their way there as if going on a pilgrimage. The success of the Angel of the North helped win funding from the Arts Council for the Gateshead Quays development. To appreciate the beauty of the Angel of the North you have to understand what it symbolises and once you understand it you grow to love it, but one thing is certain love it or hate it the Angel of the North is here to stay.

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              03.09.2001 19:15
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              As a creative person myself, I know that everyone sees different thing as being artistic and everyone has different opinions on things. My opinion being that although the idea of the Angel of the North to me seemed pretty cool, I was extremely disappointed with the results. I'm not entirely sure what I expected, but I think it was someting, I don't know, prettier(?) than this? Personally I think it looks like a plane nosedived into the ground and as it rusts and rots, noone can be bothered to sore out the debris. Basically that is all I have to say on this matter, and I know a lot of people think this is really great and beautifual and I appreciate their opinion, but sadly I cannot agree with them.

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                05.05.2001 04:57
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                The Angel Of The North is brilliant. Most other countries have brilliant art and for years I have felt that England has always been a bit dull. The closest thing we have to a well known piece of art used to be Big Ben! But the angel of the North has blessed the North East of England and stands proud in Gateshead, showing the world that we are a cultured nation.I only hope that more art will follow so that England can have a better reputation for great art! The plainess of it is what strikes me first. When you think of an angel, you think of a woman dressed in flowy white and silver dresses, but the angel of the North almost looks like an aeroplane!! I must admit, at first I was very much against it as I saw it on the news, but as soon as I saw it for the first time, I was in love. You can't get the impression of what it is really like from seeing it in pictures and on telly, so if you are sitting there thinking that it is a horrific mess of wood, then go and see it, you never know seeing it close up might change your mind!

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