Morrisons uses Angel of the North's wings as a billboard to advertise bread

Built on the site of disused pit head baths Angel of the North was meant as a soaring testament to the toil of Gateshead’s generations of miners as well as a powerful symbol of the region’s post-industrial aspirations.

Yesterday however a leading supermarket chain was forced to apologise after it provoked uproar for using the vast aeroplane wings of Antony Gormley’s landmark sculpture as a billboard to advertise the cut-price cost of a French loaf.

Morrisons said it beamed a projection of a giant baguette bearing the slogan “I’m Cheaper” onto the artwork on Friday night in a bid to promote its new low-cost strategy aimed at tackling the rise of discount supermarkets Lidl and Aldi.

But the stunt was widely denounced on social media and elsewhere as “cultural vandalism”. Mr Gormley, who has always insisted on the artwork appearing unlit was also unhappy over the co-option of his most famous piece.

“I’d rather the Angel is not used for such purposes, but it’s out there,” he said.

The supermarket said it had not meant to cause offence. “We're sorry if you thought we got carried away with our latest marketing. We were trying to have some fun and didn't mean to offend anybody,” it said.

A spokeswoman said the advert was meant to raise “conversation” about the price cutting initiative as well as “generating intrigue.”

However Morrisons was unable to confirm that it had permission to use the Angel for advertising purposes prompting speculation the picture could have been computer generated.

Linda Green, holder of the culture portfolio at Gateshead Council which commissioned the artwork two decades ago, said she was unaware of any requests to use it and would have opposed the licensing of the iconic image if she had been consulted.

“I find it strange that they have done this. We do use the Angel on some advertising for the North East as a visitor destination but I wouldn’t like this at all. I wouldn’t agree to that,” said Mrs Green.

Both Mr Gormley and the council have in the past strongly opposed efforts to exploit the image for commercial purposes including attempts by Tourism Ireland to illuminate it with a green light.

Comic Jenny Éclair was among those to condemn the advert. “Angel of the North being used to advertise a shitty supermarket (or anything) makes me burn with fury,” she Tweeted.

Author Patrick Ness described it as “philistine and disgraceful”. Gateshead MP Ian Mearns said: “I doubt very much that they had permission for this. Antony Gormley clearly never intended the Angel to be used like this, and Morrisons should know better. This is just tacky.”

An on-line petition signed by dozens of people urged Gateshead Council leader Mick Henry to prevent a recurrence of the stunt. “Defacing our public art, whether through criminal damage or commercial advertising, is deeply offensive to the people of the North,” it said.

Last week Morrisons announced a major new TV and poster advertising campaign designed by agency DLKW Lowe to promote its £1bn price-cutting fight back against the discount retailers.

In 1998 Newcastle United fans used fishing line and catapults to dress the Angel in a 30ft football shirt bearing the name of the club’s legendary striker Alan Shearer.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas