Here are 65 fun facts about the Angel of the North that I bet you didn’t know. From its X (twitter) account to its media appearances, the marriage proposals, and the engineering feats that went into its construction, this incredible structure is beautiful, gigantic, and loved by northerners.
It’s a majestic site, and you’ll be blown away by its construction and how quickly it’s become an important source of pride and community in the Northeast of England.
What is the Angel of the North? A brief intro to the massive angel
It was designed by British artist Antony Gormley and was unveiled to the public on February 15, 1998.
It stands at an impressive 20 meters (66 feet) tall and boasts a wingspan of 54 meters (177 feet).
Despite initial controversy, the Angel of the North has become a beloved symbol of the North East, attracting crowds of thousands and even featuring in popular culture, including in the opening credits of “Our Friends in the North” and “Vera.”
The Angel of the North’s massive size and awe-inspiring height make it an absolute must-see for anyone visiting the North East.
Standing under the sculpture’s enormous wings is a humbling experience that is sure to leave visitors feeling dwarfed by its grandeur and engineering prowess.
On a sunny day, the Angel’s rusty patina takes on a warm glow that can be seen from miles around, inviting visitors to come closer and explore the sculpture’s unique design and construction.
Ultimately, the Angel of the North is a British icon that should be on everyone’s bucket list, offering visitors an unforgettable experience that celebrates the best of both contemporary art and incredible engineering.
The idea for the Angel of the North was conceived in 1994 and required the collaboration of Gormley, engineers Ove Arup & Partners, and Hartlepool Steel Fabrications, the company responsible for construction.
The sculpture was partly funded by private sponsorship and grants from the National Lottery, Northern Arts, and Gateshead Council.
The Angel of the North has become an iconic symbol of North East pride and identity and has attracted visitors from all over the world.
65 Fun Facts about the Angel of the North
Here are 65 fun facts about this massive sculpture that will make you want to visit and experience its grandeur for yourself:
1. The Angel of the North was designed by British artist Antony Gormley in 1994.
2. Antony Gormley’s design for the Angel of the North was chosen from a shortlist of over 250 proposals.
3. The steel used in the Angel of the North weighs 208 tons.
4. The sculpture is made of three-millimeter-thick steel plates that were cut and welded together.
5. The steel used in the construction of the sculpture was sourced from local steel mills, helping to give the sculpture a strong sense of connection to the local area.
6. The sculpture’s design was inspired by an angel’s wingspan and the idea of a “presence” overlooking the surrounding landscape.
7. It took three years to design and construct the Angel of the North.
8. The sculpture cost £800,000 to build.
9. The Angel of the North was unveiled to the public on February 15, 1998.
10. The sculpture is made up of three main components: the body, the two wings, and the halo.
11. The wings of the Angel of the North are angled forward at three and a half degrees to create a sense of embrace.
12. Gormley’s original design called for the wings of the angel to be able to move, but this was deemed too dangerous by engineers.
13. The halo at the top of the sculpture is made of stainless steel and reflects sunlight, creating a glowing effect.
14. The sculpture is made up of several layers of steel, with the outermost layer featuring small holes that allow light and air to pass through.
15. The Angel of the North is as tall as four double-decker buses stacked on top of each other.
16. The sculpture is said to weigh the same as 15 elephants.
17. The Angel of the North is almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty in New York.
18. The sculpture’s wingspan is wider than a Boeing 757.
19. The Angel of the North is the largest sculpture in the UK.
20. The sculpture is one of the largest angel sculptures in the world.
21. The sculpture is built on a hill, which required a massive concrete foundation to be dug into the earth.
22. The foundation is 21.3 meters deep and 54 meters by 28 meters at the base.
23. The Angel of the North took 640 tonnes of concrete to create its base.
24. The Angel is visible from the air, and can be seen by passengers flying into Newcastle International Airport.
25. The sculpture has been used as a backdrop in countless films and TV shows, including the opening credits of the BBC drama “Our Friends in the North.”
26. The Angel of the North has been parodied in numerous forms, including as a Lego sculpture and a giant inflatable version.
27. Gormley worked with engineers Ove Arup & Partners to create a design that would withstand winds of up to 100 mph.
28. The sculpture was engineered to last for at least 100 years.
29. Over 1,000 people were involved in the construction of the sculpture.
30. The Angel of the North was created using a unique weathering steel that gives it a distinctive rusty patina.
31. The rust-colored paint was applied in multiple layers, using a variety of techniques to create a textured and unpredictable surface.
32. The sculpture is hollow and made of 25mm thick steel.
33. The body of the Angel of the North is made of two vertical parallel plates of steel.
34. The sculpture is made up of 24 separate sections.
35. Each of the 24 sections of the Angel of the North was transported to the site on specially designed lorries.
36. The body of the Angel of the North is 3 meters wide and The wings of the Angel are 54 meters wide.
37. The stainless steel halo at the top of the sculpture is 5 meters in diameter.
38. The Angel of the North is located on a former coal-mining site and the colossal steel structures reflect the area’s industrial heritage of building steel bridges and ships.
39. The sculpture was predicted to attract 150,000 visitors a year but attracted over 150,000 in just one month.
40. The Angel of the North can be seen from as far away as 20 miles on a clear day.
41. The Angel stands on a hill overlooking the A1 road and is visible to drivers from up to 1.5 km away.
42. The sculpture has become a popular site for marriage proposals.
43. The Angel of the North featured in a 2018 advertising campaign for Newcastle United Football Club, with the team’s all-time leading scorer Alan Shearer posing in front of the sculpture.
44. The base of the Angel of the North is open to the public and serves as a memorial garden for local residents.
45. The Angel of the North has become a symbol of North East pride and identity.
46️. The sculpture has been used as a backdrop for television commercials, music videos, and films.
47. The Angel of the North is protected as a valuable item of cultural heritage by the United Kingdom government.
48. The sculpture was once the subject of a prank when a group of students dressed Gormley’s statue in a giant Newcastle United shirt (Alan Shearer’s shirt).
49. The Angel of the North has also been dressed up for special occasions, including a Santa hat at Christmas.
50. The sculpture has become a popular spot for photographs and selfies.
51. The Angel of the North has also been the subject of many paintings and art pieces.
52. The sculpture’s poetic resonance has been compared to that of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
53. The Angel of the North has inspired many public art projects in the North East region and beyond.
54. The sculpture is so beloved by locals that it was once voted as one of the 7 Wonders of the North East.
55. The Angel of the North has been featured in many travel guides and named a top attraction in the North East.
56️. The Angel of the North was featured in the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, alongside other iconic British landmarks.
57. The Angel of the North was voted the fourth most inspiring landmark in the UK in a survey conducted by Nationwide in 2017.
58. The sculpture has brought international attention to the town of Gateshead and helped put it on the map.
6️0. The sculpture was made in response to a new arts policy that aimed to bring more contemporary sculpture to the North East.
6️1. The Angel of the North is a feat of engineering and design that showcases the best of British sculpture.
6️2. The Angel of the North is a valuable item in its own right and was once allegedly sold at auction to an anonymous bidder for a reported £1 million.
6️3. The sculpture has its own Twitter account, with over 20,000 followers.
6️4. Gormley’s sculpture has become one of the most recognizable pieces of public art in the world.
6️5. The sculpture has its own merchandise store, selling everything from postcards to clothing.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Angel of the North
1. What is the Angel of the North and why is it famous?
The Angel of the North is an iconic steel sculpture designed by Antony Gormley located in Gateshead, England. Standing tall at 20 meters high, it’s one of the largest sculptures in the world.
The Angel was created from 200 tonnes of steel and 1,200 tonnes of concrete. It consists of two wings spread outwards to span 54 meters across.
When approaching from the south, visitors are welcomed by a giant winged figure standing guard over Gateshead and its inhabitants. Since its opening in 1998, it has become one of the most recognizable pieces of public art in the UK.
2. How tall is the Angel of the North?
The Angel of the North stands an impressive 20 meters tall and has a wingspan of 54 meters across, making it one of the largest sculptures in the world.
3. What does the Angel of the North symbolize?
The Angel of the North is an iconic symbol of hope, resilience, and pride for the North East of England. It was built with a message of optimism for the future.
To its sculptor, the Angel was meant to represent a sense of protection and security to all those who pass by it. The sculpture has come to represent a lasting reminder of the unbreakable spirit of the North East.
4. What color is the Angel of the North?
The Angel of the North is a striking oxidized steel color, which gives it a unique look that stands out against the surrounding landscape. This color comes from the use of Cor-Ten steel, which forms a stable, rust-like appearance after several years of exposure to the weather. The color choice was specifically chosen to reflect the region’s traditional industrial heritage.
5. Does the Angel of the North light up at night?
The Angel of the North does not light up at night because of a clause inserted into the agreement by the sculptor, Antony Gormley, with the Gateshead Council.
Despite its massive size, the Angel of the North is composed of intricate and precise engineering that makes it a true work of art.
Whether you visit to take pictures, to learn about the details of its construction, or simply to marvel at its size and beauty, this iconic British sculpture is sure to leave a lasting impression.
I make sure I visit it on all of my trips to the Northeast and I love seeing it standing guard over the surrounding valley.
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- Angel of the North |Durham Rod, Low Eighton, Gateshead NE9 7TY | Phone: +44 191 433 3000 | www.gateshead.gov.uk