Gateshead Angel wins cash award

Marianne Macdonald
Wednesday 07 August 1996 23:02

The Angel of the North - "a monument to the stupidity of Gateshead council" as one councillor put it - will today be awarded pounds 5,000 for helping to regenerate the town.

Ironically, this is opposite to the effect many residents believe the brooding steel statue will have when it is finally erected in March next year.

The Angel, by the Turner prizewinner Antony Gormley, will have a 150- ft wing span and will dominate the Gateshead skyline. Detractors have compared it to Albert Speer's Luftwaffe memorial.

Nevertheless, the British Gas Properties/Arts Councils Working For Cities Awards panel will announce today that it has won its art-in-progress prize, with the support of the Heritage Secretary, Virginia Bottomley.

The award to Gateshead council is the latest tranche of money the statue has won. It has also been given a pounds 584,000 lottery grant, pounds 150,000 by the European Regional Development Fund and pounds 45,000 by Northern Arts in Newcastle.

Such was the ire the proposal initially aroused in residents, that 4,000 people signed a petition calling for it not to be put up. But the council, which is not footing any of the pounds 800,000 bill itself, believes the town is relenting in its opposition.

Recently, it arranged for another Gormley piece, Field For The British Isles, to be put on view to win over residents. The work, composed of 40,000 tiny terracotta figures, appears to have turned the tide of opinion.

The comments book is covered with praise. "Can't wait for the Angel," one visitor commented. "Highly impressive," wrote another. "We welcome Gormley," said a third.

Such has been the publicity that there are suggestions it may even raise the price of property with a view of the statue.

The other winners of thepounds 5,000 awards were: A Light in Docklands, the world's largest temporary arts project; Spitalfields Festival; Sunderland City Library and Arts centre; the Pioneers, Cardiff, a community arts project; and the Batley Public Art Programme in west Yorkshire.

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