26 October 2014

The Angel of the North

Located in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, The Angel of the North, designed by Antony Gormley, is the largest sculpture in Britain - and weighs in at a very earth-bound 220 tons. The strong horizontal form, and the slight forward angling of the wings of the sculpture, which stands just south of Low Fell, assists it to dominate the nearby A1.

This was coal-mining country, and the underlying mines had to be grouted before foundations 66 feet deep, comprising 165 tons of reinforced concrete, could be formed. The statue is just 66 feet tall yet has a wingspan of 177 feet, and has been designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 100 mph. 52 bolts each ten feet long affix the Angel to a concrete plinth 17 feet thick. Intriguingly, the body is hollow, accessible via a hatch on one of the shoulder blades.

Completed in 1998 at a cost of £800,000, the Angel was constructed, by Hartlepool Steel Fabrications Ltd, from 3,153 pieces of steel. It was delivered to site in three parts - the body of 110 tons and the wings of 55 tons each. 88 bolts hold each wing in place. COR-TEN steel and copper alloy was used, two inches thick for the ribs and of a quarter inch for the skin, the surface of which rusts in a predictable manner and doesn't require painting.

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