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The Angel of the North: Public Art and Wellbeing

BLACKMAN, FIONA,MAEVE (2014) The Angel of the North: Public Art and Wellbeing. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Sir Antony Gormley’s sculpture, the Angel of the North, has acquired iconic status but relatively little is known about its impact on wellbeing. The aim of this research is to investigate this impact by exploring what outcomes were intended, the extent to which these have been realised, and why and how these outcomes occurred. The methodology used is realistic evaluation,
framing the Angel as an intervention.

The Angel has been an important part of the culture-led regeneration of the town of Gateshead, but its role also reflects the local authority’s work to improve wellbeing in a non-material sense. This is conceptualised, and the empirical findings interpreted, by drawing on cultural analysis, especially the work of Raymond Williams and Pierre Bourdieu. The research combines interpretivist approaches to explore meanings and empirical approaches to measure effects, including documentary analysis, semi-structured interviews, a population survey and focus groups. The analysis identifies themes and sub-themes and patterns and associations in the data.

The findings show that there are various types of audience for the Angel, presenting a complex picture of impact varying by residents’ characteristics and circumstances, and playing into people’s everyday lives and life events in different ways. Local identity, home and home-coming, and pride and confidence are intrinsic to its effects, but its attributes have also given it a global status as an image and brand.

The findings make original contributions to our understanding of the little researched area of the benefits of public art, and to the role of public art in everyday cultural life and local government practice.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Art, Wellbeing, Cultural Policy, Williams, Bourdieu
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Dec 2014 09:42

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