Friday, April 14, 2017
Angel of the North
Here I am in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, practically next door to Scotland. One of my main reasons for coming up here yesterday was to visit the Angel of the North, Sir Antony Gormley's huge iron colossus at the southern edge of Gateshead, across the river from Newcastle.
The Angel was erected in 1998, and I remember reading about it back then, when I lived in Florida. It seemed like such a strange, otherworldly creation. (I'm intrigued by Gormley's work -- you may remember that I visited his sculpture installation at Crosby Beach near Liverpool last spring.)
Here are the practical facts: The Angel is built on top of eight reinforced concrete pilings sunk into bedrock, which are themselves topped with a concrete slab and plinth, all underground. Holes were dug 33 meters deep and fortified with sand and cement to support the foundation. Supposedly, even though the sculpture looks like it's supposed to take flight, it can actually tolerate winds of more than 100 mph.
It was cast in Teesside using a special type of steel that's supposed to develop a rusty patina. It stands 65 feet high, with a wing span of 175 feet, and weighs 208 tons. As you can see, it dwarfs its many visitors.
And let me just say, for a Thursday afternoon, I was surprised at how many people were visiting! I counted more than 30 when I got there about 1:30 p.m.
I posted a picture to Facebook and initially used the pronoun "she" to describe the Angel. But actually, it has no gender, at least as far as I can tell. So I edited my post. The Angel is an "it."
Getting to the Angel wasn't hard at all. There's a public bus (No. 21) from the Eldon Square area of central Newcastle to Chester-le-Street (which is a great name for a town, isn't it?) and it runs right past the Angel. It cost £2.50, and I paid the driver cash.
I walked back to Newcastle, which was a bit of a schlep but it allowed me to do some other photography and to visit the Shipley Art Gallery, a small museum featuring some stunning Japanese pottery, local art and artifacts pertaining to the history of Gateshead, a handful of paintings including a large Tintoretto and -- at least when I visited -- an exhibit on furniture and product design.
I also found these two Indian restaurants:
They were about a mile apart, I think. Are they related, or are they competitors? Very mysterious!
Last night I found Newcastle's "gayborhood" and had a drink at a pub there, reading my New Yorker, before finding dinner in the city center. (Bangers and mash -- not a very unusual choice, really.) Today, more exploring the city before I catch my train back to London in the early afternoon!