Tyne & Wear

Angel of the North creator to become Freeman of Gateshead

Angel of the North
Image caption Antony Gormley designed the 200 tonne steel Angel of the North

The awarding-winning creator of the Angel of the North is to become an honorary Freeman of Gateshead.

Gateshead councillors made the decision to give the "prestigious" honour to sculptor Antony Gormley OBE on Thursday.

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art founders Sune Nordgren and Alan Smith will also be made Freemen at a special ceremony at the gallery on 24 July.

Mr Gormley said he was "delighted" to be receiving the Freedom of Gateshead.

The arts trio are the latest of only a handful of individuals ever to have become Freemen of Gateshead.

London-born Antony Gormley designed the 200 tonne steel Angel, which has overlooked the A1 in Gateshead since 2008.

'Adopted Geordie'

Mr Gormley said: "It has been an adventure working with and for the people of Gateshead and the north-east of England.

"I have been a proud adopted Geordie and am delighted to receive the Freedom of Gateshead."

He has been nominated by the council for his worldwide services to the arts, after playing a "major role" in raising the profile of Gateshead both nationally and internationally.

Image caption Antony Gormley was awarded the Turner Prize in 1994

First director of the Baltic Sune Nordgren has been nominated for services to the arts on the international stage after ensuring the gallery took its place in the contemporary art world after its opening in 2002.

Founding chairman of the Baltic, County Durham-born Alan J Smith OBE DL has been nominated for his distinguished services to culture, architecture and development regionally, nationally and internationally.

Mr Smith said he was "overwhelmed, delighted and humbled" at being nominated.

The leader of Gateshead Council, Mick Henry, said: "These three outstanding individuals have played a major part in shaping the Gateshead we know today.

"Working with them has been a pleasure and they thoroughly deserve to join the ranks of Freemen of Gateshead, the highest honour that we can give to an individual."

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