“Angel of the SW”

Ludwell Valley Park, St Loyes, Exeter
Height 10m, Wingspan 27m
29 February 2019*

Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North had a rocky start, and was nearly never made. Thankfully, however, it now creates a precedent for ambitious sculptural works in other parts of the country, extending to a half-scale Angel in Ludwell Valley Park.

According to Gormley, the significance of the Angel of the North was “three-fold: first, to signify that beneath the site of its construction, coal miners worked for two centuries; second, to grasp the transition from an industrial to an information age, and third, to serve as a focus for our evolving hopes and fears.”

The significance of the Angel of the SW is similar but necessarily different. Clearly it does not mark an area of coal mining. It does neighbour several quarries that produced the Heavitree breccia used to build mediaeval Exeter. The colour of the weathered steel reflects the rust-red nature of the stone.

As in the North, the location of the Angel of the SW juxtaposes countryside with development. It is set on a high point within Ludwell Valley Park, a protected green area and working farm within the bounds of the city of Exeter. The Ludwell Valley Park Masterplan includes a vision for “playful art at viewpoints to encourage ascent of hill”.

Ludwell is surrounded by housing and offices. The Angel is overlooking St Loyes in east Exeter, with  suburbia in the foreground and bypass, retail park and motorway beyond. It serves as a focus and an anchor, helping to tether us and give us a sense of place in an ephemeral and rapidly changing world.

Image sources

* The Angel of the SW has of course not (yet) been made. Imagine the Angel of the North never getting off the drawing board, and existing only as Gormley’s artist impressions. Then you’ll have an idea of what this work really is…

Digital image
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The internet is my gallery

Mock-up published 14 February 2019 ♥