Angel of the North 20th Anniversary

Britain’s most-viewed piece of public modern art celebrated its 20th birthday today (Thursday, 15 February 2018).

On February 14, 1998 Gateshead’s world-famous Angel of the North arrived on a hilltop at the head of the Team Valley in Gateshead and was erected the following day. It would quickly become the most instantly recognisable landmark in the North East since the opening of the Tyne Bridge in 1928.

Twenty years later, some of the people who helped to bring the Angel to Gateshead met to celebrate its 20th birthday.

Alderman Sid Henderson, 87, who as a local councillor originally chaired the committee that was tasked with finding a work of art for the site, was guest of honour at today’s birthday celebration.

Leader of Gateshead Council, Councillor Martin Gannon, says: “When we commissioned the Angel of the North, no local council had ever commissioned such a major work of art before”.

“The Angel of the North divided opinion at the time and continues to do so, though I think most people have grown to love it. And that’s what these celebrations are all about.

“The Angel of the North has become part of the fabric of our region and become part of people’s lives. That’s what we want to celebrate and that’s why we are asking local people to get involved by sharing their Angel stories, their photographs and their memories.”

Designed by internationally renowned sculptor Antony Gormley OBE, the Angel of the North was built on the site of a former colliery pithead baths – a ‘gateway’ site recognised by Gateshead Council as the perfect location for a piece of monumental public art.

Its size and its location means the Angel of the North is the UK’s most-viewed work of art, seen by an estimated 90,000 travellers on the A1 and the East Coast main line every day. 

Rt Rev Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow, has said the Angel of the North plays a significant part in people's lives.

Bishop Mark told Premier’s Northern Correspondent Ian Britton he loves how the angel has become a place that is visited by locals who just want to think and people who plan to propose.

He continued: "I suppose what fascinates me and what I love about the angel is that the angel has become a place to which local people come for the things that really matter in life."

The Angel is seen by 33 million every year and was installed in February 1998.

It has become a potent and easily-recognisable symbol both of Gateshead and the North East and has featured in numerous films and on TV programmes such as Auf Wiedersehen Pet, BBC Match of the Day, the Chelsea Flower Show and the Eurovision Song Content.

Click below to listen to two fans of the Angel of the North

Rt Rev Mark Bryant, the Bishop of Jarrow

Alderman Sid Henderson

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