Angel of the Loaf

So Morrisons projected a 177 foot long French stick on the Angel of the North. You’ve got to be kidding me.

As a proud Geordie, sometimes it is rather difficult being the centre of attention when it comes to ridicule. “Wait, you mean you’re studying English…in Scotland? But you don’t even speak English!” Genius. Or, “Is everyone like they are on Geordie Shore?”  I got sunburn at T in The Park, so no. And, “Go on, say Facebook;” pretty sure it’s phonetically correct like. But the point I am trying to make is that Morrisons projecting their advert onto perhaps one of the most iconic landmarks in the United Kingdom just further highlights the fact that Newcastle really does not get cut any slack.

Firstly, the forever dwindling supermarket chain, Morrisons decided that as means of advertisement, a 54 metre long baguette would be beamed across Antony Gormley’s ‘Angel of the North’.  Newcastle’s steel angel was erected in 1988; situated in Gateshead, it dominates the horizon and is seen by almost one hundred thousand drivers every single day. Rising twenty metres from the ground, this steel masterpiece is something to be proud of as a Geordie, as it rises from the ashes of Newcastle’s mining history. Rather than becoming a rusty monstrosity, it is an important symbol of Newcastle’s past and present.

So clearly, a massive baguette strewn across the wings of a beautiful piece of cultural history is awfully tacky and, quite frankly, insulting. Previously, Gormley has denied any such lighting or artistic alterations to occur on the Angel, wanting it to appear “isolated and unlit”. Such artwork should not be used for purposes other than to be awe inspiring. It is unknown if Morrisons even gained permission from Gateshead council to light up the winged creature, claiming that they are “so proud of their Northern roots” that shining their yeasty stick on the Angel would let everyone become aware of this. It was cute when Ant and Dec were talking about pies in the adverts, but this is the sheer pinnacle of foolishness.

It raises question as to whether this behaviour would be as easily accepted elsewhere. If Aldi projected a massive pint of milk on the Tower of London, how pissed would Londoners get? Or if ASDA beamed a block of Edam onto the Houses of Parliament, would Cameron chuckle and carry on sipping his tea? I doubt it. This is by no means a debate as to the perceived North-South divide, but it goes to show that if Morrisons decided to project their baguette elsewhere, it would not have been dealt with as lightly. They have since apologised, but what price should be paid for vandalising a piece of art?

Mr. Gormley himself stated that he was shocked and appalled to see his outstanding creation be “trivialised” and redeemed to such little standards, having been tampered for the means of advertisement. In contrast, back when the statue was first created in the eighties, Newcastle United fans used homemade catapults, fishing rods and rubber balls to hoist a thirty foot Alan Shearer replica football shirt onto the Angel. This harmless stunt won widespread praise from the citizens of Newcastle and proved that dedication to your city and club is always appreciated.

Unfortunately, Morrisons got attention nonetheless. Not only did they have the balls to commit to something risky, but they got people talking, though not for the right reason. It goes without saying that Newcastle can sometimes be looked down upon as a grotty old mining town. However, in reality, it is beautiful, with a fantastic cosmopolitan lifestyle and friendly people. It is home to perhaps some of the most astounding artistic creations; top end gig venues, modern art museums, and Newcastle University features in the top two hundred of the best Universities in the world.

It is time to ditch the preconceived idea that Newcastle is so inconsequential that it can withstand the defacement of public art in the names of advertising.  Sadly, Morrisons will most likely not be shamed as they deserve until they beam up bargain salad stuffs onto somewhere like the White House but for now, Geordies will remain unimpressed. In the words of Cheryl Cole, “We’re worth it”.

[Emmie Harrison]

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