Angel Of The North sculptor Antony Gormley has said he accepted his knighthood as “a recognition” for the art form.
The 63-year-old is one of the country’s most prominent artists, with major public works to his name including the Angel, at Gateshead, which has gone on to become an icon of the region.
Gormley, who won the Turner Prize in 1994 and accepted an OBE in 1997, said he was “happy” to accept the honour.
He said: “I think it’s a good thing for sculpture and a recognition of the aspect of sculpture that is about a collective vision.”
Gormley, who grew up in London and was educated at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire, said he felt the award was representative of a shift in the culture of the country.
He said: “We’ve realised we are rather good at making things that are not simply ships, planes or military equipment. This is something we can be proud of and take to other cultures. I think it’s a feeling that these sort of awards went to people, and of course still do, that have served the country in obvious ways militarily, politically or industrially and now they also go to people that have opened people’s minds and this reflects that shift.”
As well as giving the North East the Angel Of The North, Gormley has also helped boost local galleries by bringing his work to the region.
In 2003, his exhibition, Domain Field, attracted thousands of visitors to the Baltic gallery on Gateshead’s quayside.
Occupying an entire floor, 8,000 square feet to be precise, the piece involved the participation of volunteers from the region.
People aged from two to 85 were moulded in plaster by teams of specially trained staff. These moulds were then used to construct individual ‘domain’ sculptures by a process of welding the steel elements together inside each mould.
The finished installation included a collection of 287 steel sculptures.
Gormley was also enrolled as Honorary Freemen of Gateshead last year.