The Angel of the North: Newcastle researcher seeks answers about memorials left at spot

Professor Anne Whitehead is researching why the Angel of the North holds emotional value for people. Credit: PA

A researcher who was moved by the tokens left in memory of people's loved ones near the Angel of the North is carrying out a study into why the site is so important to the public.

The sculpture by Antony Gormley has become a symbol of the North East since it was first erected in 1998.

With its 54 feet wingspan, it is one of the most recognisable pieces of art in the region.

Professor Anne Whitehead, an academic at Newcastle University, is now carrying out research into why people choose to remember their loved ones at the spot and why the area holds so much emotional value.

She said: “As a Gateshead resident, I have regularly visited the site.

Children celebrating 25 years of the Angel of the North in February. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

“I’d noticed over the years that in some trees near the Angel, people had left tokens of remembrance. I was moved by these memorials and I’ve been increasingly fascinated with them. I would like to create a sound work that records what this place means to the people who leave memorial objects and messages there.”

Professor Whitehead, who researches how we tell stories of grief and loss, is appealing for anyone who has left an item at the site at any time to speak to her.

She is working with sound recordist David de la Haye, who plans to record the memorial across the seasons of the year, as well as the sound of the Angel of the North itself. 

These recordings will be combined with interviews to create a short work that will play in the Arches Sound Project at Newcastle University in July 2024.

He said: "I am excited to explore the resonance of the Angel, both physically and emotionally, at this special location."

Anyone who has left an item at the site is asked to email and Professor Whitehead can provide further details about the project.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...