To mark fifteen years since the unveiling of the Angel of the North, Gateshead’s Shipley Art Gallery has restored a previously unseen model of the public artwork, used by famous artist Anthony Gormley when building the real sculpture. The model will be on view for a year at the gallery, as the original sculpture approaches an estimated half a billion views in its fifteenth year.
The Shipley Art Gallery unveiled the wooden maquette of the sculpture fifteen years to the day after the public launch of the Angel of the North, on 13 February 1998. The maquette was originally used by Anthony Gormley as he developed his final plans for the 200 tonne steel sculpture. The delicate scale version of the sculpture had been in storage for fifteen years before its recent restoration by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museum, one of our major partner museums which The Shipley Art Gallery is part of.
Julie Milne, Chief Curator of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: ‘The Angel of the North is intrinsic to the landscape of the North East region now, a true iconic figure. We’re very excited to welcome this extraordinary item to the Shipley Art Gallery. Our conservation team have carefully cleaned this immensely delicate balsa wood sculpture, so he will look his best for his public appearance!’
Leader of Gateshead Council, Mick Henry, said: ‘It’s difficult to believe that it’s so long ago that we welcomed the Angel of the North to its home in Gateshead. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine Gateshead without it. The Angel has become part of what makes Gateshead, the North East and indeed even Britain, special.
Since its completion in February 1998, the landmark has become a symbol of the regeneration of the North East region – both cultural and otherwise. The Angel is regularly used as the North East’s most-recognised landmark on television programmes, from the BBC’s Match of the Day and Antiques Roadshow to ITV’s The X-Factor and various news bulletins, and has been viewed in real life an estimated 495 million times.
In the late 1990’s, the Arts Council invested over £500,000 of National Lottery funds in the project – which accounted for over 70% of the total cost of the Angel.
At the time of the Angel’s launch, its creator Anthony Gormley said: ‘The effect of the piece is in the alertness, the awareness of space and the gesture of the wings – they are not flat, they’re about 3.5 degrees forward and give a sense of embrace.’