Theme: renewing a sense of place and identity
Angel of the North, Antony Gormley, 1998, Gateshead. Commissioned by Gateshead Council. Photo Colin Cuthbert
Best practice in: embedding public art into regeneration schemes to help effect major economic and social change for the area.
Gateshead Council’s public art programme was established in 1986. Initially seen as a way of bringing art to a community which lacked its own contemporary art gallery, the ambition and scope of the programme grew as the Council (and in particular the Libraries and Arts Committee) realised the potential of arts-based regeneration for the area.
Over the last twenty five years more than 80 pieces of art in the public realm have been commissioned by the Council, with Antony Gormley’s sculpture, the Angel of the North (which was installed in 1998 at a cost of £800,000) being by far the most famous. Arguably the UK’s most recognised public art commission, the Angel’s success paved the way for further arts and cultural development in Gateshead and it has become a symbol of the area’s regeneration through the arts. Gateshead now boasts key cultural venues and iconic architecture in the form of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, The Sage Gateshead concert hall by Foster and Partners and the Millennium Bridge by Wilkinson Eyre Architects.
As well as providing some of the foundation for this regeneration, the Council’s public art programme has helped to integrate the growth of new public spaces and buildings into the area, and continues to do so.
Gateshead Council’s commitment to commissioning art in the public realm continues with the following aims, to:
Gateshead Council’s strategy for siting work is often related to major planning and environmental developments, from the Riverside Sculpture Park (begun in 1980s with re-working since 2001) to the ongoing town centre redevelopment (begun in 2002), not only helping to ensure that there are budgets for commissions, but also that art is integrated into the growth of the town.
There is a strong commitment from the Council to see that work is relevant to the site that it is located in as well as the town as a whole. This approach to embedding art in the locality is continued in terms of engagement with local people, thousands of which have been involved in the public art programme via a range of major commissions, broader arts development and arts-education projects, helping to “bridge the gap between the commissioning procedures, creative process and the finished artwork.” For example, the award-winning education programme for the Angel of the North.
Facts and Figures:
Key factors for success:
Anna Pepperall, Public Art Curator, Gateshead Council, Civic Centre, Regent Street
Gateshead, NE8 1HH.
Gateshead Council’s website which gives more information on their approach to commissioning art in the public realm.
Public Art in Gateshead and the Angel of the North, Public Art Team, Gateshead Council, July 2006