‘Angel of the North-East’ plan for bypass

The north-east could soon boast its own version of the iconic Angel of the North at Gateshead or the hugely popular Kelpies at Falkirk

An “Angel of the North-East” could be built beside Aberdeen’s new bypass to welcome thousands of motorists every day.

A call has been made for the region’s civic leaders to commission a major work of public art and locate it next to the city’s Western Peripheral Route.

The proposal was widely welcomed last night amid hopes the north-east could soon boast its own version of the iconic Angel of the North at Gateshead or the hugely popular Kelpies at Falkirk.

 Angel Of The North
Angel Of The North

But city councillor Ian Yuill – who has asked the local authority to investigate the move – said the new artwork should be unique to the region and reflect its character.

Under the plans, local residents would be able to choose the final design of the work.

Mr Yuill, leader of the local authority’s opposition Liberal Democrat group, has tabled a motion to a meeting of the full council next week urging officials to produce a report on the feasibility of the project and possible funding options.

“What I don’t want is the Angel of the North mark II, or the Kelpies mark II – I want Aberdeen mark I,” he said last night.

“I think a suitable piece of art might be something that people in the north-east would enjoy. I want the council to look at it and look at how it might be funded

“The choice of the artwork would be made by the community, and the location would have to be somewhere visible but not distracting to drivers.

“I’m not the right person to choose the type of artwork but it should be right for the north-east and memorable for people visiting the area.

“It could be something fun, challenging, and reflecting the character of the north-east.”

Mr Yuill also said he hoped the local authority could identify external funding sources.

“I wouldn’t support council budgets being used to fund this,” he said.

Councillors will consider Mr Yuill’s proposal on Thursday.

Motions by city councillors in recent years have led to the commissioning of the £120,000 Robert the Bruce statue which sits outside Marischal College, and the £125,000 memorial to the Gordon Highlands at Aberdeen’s Castlegate.

Sir Antony Gormley’s £800,000 Angel of the North, unveiled in 1998 and funded mainly by the National Lottery, has become one of the most talked about pieces of public art ever produced.

Rising 65ft above the ground near the A1 London-Edinburgh road at Gateshead, it is seen by more than 150,000 visitors a year and 90,000 drivers every day.

Meanwhile, the 100ft horse head Kelpies, designed by sculptor Andy Scott, have attracted more than a million visitors since they were completed in October 2013.

Steve Harris, chief executive of tourism body VisitAberdeen, said a similar scheme for the north-east could bring visitors to the area.

“A major art installation would certainly be a major attraction for the area and such concepts are to be welcomed,” he said.

“Major public art is not cheap – the Kelpies for example are part of the wider project called The Helix which has an overall budget of £43million, with the Kelpies receiving a Big Lottery grant of £25million.

“Gathering the correct funding package for such an iconic artwork would be a complex exercise but could give an outstanding installation.”

Work is under way on the £745million Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, with its completion scheduled for winter 2017.

The dual carriageway will leave the A90 Dundee-Aberdeen road at Charleston, loop west of Kingswells and rejoin the A90 at Blackdog.

Yvonne Billimore, programme manager at the Lumsden-based Scottish Sculpture Workshop, said she believed a piece of public art along the 36-mile route would be welcomed.

She said: “I think that public sculpture has definitely got its benefits. It makes art accessible to everyone in a very immediate way, and it’s obviously not confined within a gallery space.

“Making public sculpture is quite difficult because it’s obviously difficult to keep everyone happy. But on the whole I think people are pleased to see these things commissioned.”

Kirsty Blackman, SNP MP for Aberdeen North, said: “I think it is an interesting idea. I would be keen to see if it’s going to be feasible financially.

“If there was a decision to go ahead, I would be keen to see a lot of local involvement and maybe have it designed locally.”