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!


  1. The Angel is amazing. I also like the shot of the man and boy on the pavement. I was trying to see what the man was carrying. It looks like Dominoes...Where o where is Yorkshire Pudding today, I wonder?

  2. You were like an explorer from another planet, quietly observing a foreign land. Some modern "sculptures" leave me cold but Sir Antony Gormley's work is always moving.

  3. To be current, you could perhaps use the pronoun "they" for the sculpture.
    I know these things. I also know people for whom the pronoun "they" is the proper one to use.
    Yes. Those restaurants must be related. Possibly. Probably. Maybe?
    Sounds like you're having a great time!

  4. it's a pretty amazing feat of engineering but aesthetically it doesn't do much for me. I like his statues on the beach better.

  5. Now that is some piece of sculpture! From a distance it looks like an airplane on it's tail.

  6. the angel is so impressive ! I agree with Ellen - to me it looks like a "thou shalt not pass" warning. I do love it and the patina is delicious! I just looked on the map and you must have walked over six miles to get back!!! Ah to be young again...Nice photos of the Indian mystery food places! Thank you for taking us along!

  7. I'm so glad you went to see that statue and got such fantastic photos of it. I too am intrigued by Gormley's work. When I was in Italy, I ran into a series of his sculptures scattered all over the town of San Gimignano. There was even one on top of one of it's famous towers. I can't begin to imagine what it took to make a sculpture of that magnitude or what it took to install it there. I'm surprised you didn't have a nice curry for dinner after seeing those two mysterious Indian Restaurants.

  8. That statue is extraordinary, the sheer scale of it. And I'd bet those two restaurants have the same owner.

  9. Chester-le-Street - how awesome :) That angel has a very impressive wingspan. I don't think there was ever a time I could walk six km but even if there was, I can't do it now. Good going!

  10. I'm impressed by the size of that thing, but it makes me think of a human/airplane hybrid & what with the United Airline thing....

    LOL at Mary Moon's "they" comment - I think I know a few folks who are "they" as well :)

  11. I saw the angel from a train

  12. jenny_o directed me here - and I am glad she did. Today I put up a post which included a miniature version of The Angel of the North (ten times smaller) - installed in Canberra, Australia. Instantly recognisable. I gather from the literature at the gallery that the body of the angel was modelled on the artist himself.