Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Views of the Angel

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Views of the Angel

Article excerpt

WHO hasn't got an opinion on The Angel of the North? It is loved by many, although not by everybody, in the North East. But it also has fans around the country and even overseas.

At the site of the Angel, with its roadside carpark, there are usually admirers to be found. Here are some of them.

Simon and Hayley Atkinson from Gateshead They must be among the Angel's biggest fans. They bought their fourbedroom terraced home right opposite the Angel of the North in September 2013 and the first thing you'll notice when the front door opens is the welcoming Angel doormat.

Each of them has two children from a previous relationship and Ben, James and Lucy live here with them, along with Sammy the dog.

Simon's son James is 17 and studying art and design. One of his Angel-inspired artworks hangs on the wall near a framed photo of the Angel in the snow.

"We've got lots of Angel bits and pieces," said Hayley, producing the metal artwork that she bought locally and that mimics the Gormley sculpture.

Through the sitting room window the real thing looms large across the road.

"We love it here," said Simon. "We feel honoured."

Hayley was being treated for breast cancer when they were buying the house. "It was like a fresh new start coming here."

Not everyone was convinced they were making the right move, said Simon.

"Friends said it would interfere with our TV reception or collapse but we like to see all the comings and goings."

The family speak with genuine fondness of the sculpture, as if it is their personal guardian angel.

"Some of the sunsets are amazing," said Hayley.

Simon said he thought the shrine below the sculpture, with its mementoes tied to trees, was 'a bit much'. But some of his father's ashes are scattered nearby. It's a site with special meaning for a lot of people.

And when, occasionally, someone knocks tentatively on the door to ask if they can use the loo, they tend to take pity. …

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