The Angel of the North is a steel sculpture of an angle with outstretched wings that stand 20 meters tall on top of a hill in Tyneside, outside Gateshead, in England, towering over the landscape and dwarfing all those who come to see it. The sculpture has a wingspan of 54 meters – greater than that of a Boeing 757, and has the ability to withstand winds of over 100 mph, thanks to its 200 ton weight. These superlative figures make the Angel of the North Britain’s largest sculpture.
The sculpture was commissioned by the Gateshead Council who chose Turner prize-winning artist Antony Gormley to produce a sculpture as a symbol for Tyneside. The panoramic hilltop site was chosen where the sculpture would be clearly seen by more than 90,000 drivers passing by the A1 every day and by passengers on the East Coast main line from London to Edinburgh. The hill itself is a former colliery pithead baths of an abandoned coal mine that was re-claimed by nature during the early 1990s.
Work began on the project in 1994 at the cost of £1 million, most of which was provided by the National Lottery, and the giant sculpture was erected on site in 1998.
The Angel of the North is as much a feat of engineering as a work of art. Due to its exposed location, the sculpture has to withstand winds of over 100 mph. To increase stability, the sculpture was anchored to the rocks 21 meters below the ground using concrete foundation that itself weights 600 tons.
Since its unfurling, the Angle has become a landmark of Tyneside, appearing in films and television, and visited by over 150,000 visitors a year.