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Friday, July 30, 1999 Published at 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK


Pinnacle of art?

The new sculpture resembles dockside cranes

When it is finished it will be the biggest and certainly the tallest piece of public art in Britain.

The Tyne Anew sculpture is being assembled on the banks of the River Tyne in Newcastle - thanks to £600,000 worth of lottery money.

[ image: Scupltor Mark Di Suvero: I want to expand people's spirits]
Scupltor Mark Di Suvero: I want to expand people's spirits
When its 23 pieces are finally bolted together this weekend - the massive 20 tonne iron structure will tower an impressive 71ft tall.

That is six foot bigger than its controversial north eastern rival - the Angel of the North - which was designed by former Turner art prizewinner, Antony Gormley.

Richard Wells reports: "Its inspiration is the region's industrial foundations"
With a wingspan wider than a Boeing 767, the Angel became one of north-east England's best known and most controversial landmarks.

Tyne Anew's American sculptor hopes his first British commission will have a similarly uplifting effect.

Expanding the human spirit

New Yorker Mark Di Suvero said: "In the scheme of things I build these pieces so that people can have an expansion of their spirit. I hope that it will work that way and I am sure that they will criticise me if it doesn't."

[ image: Angel of the North - pride of Gateshead?]
Angel of the North - pride of Gateshead?
The sculpture's inspiration is the region's industrial foundations of coal mining and shipbuilding.

The distinctive structure strongly resembles the dockyard cranes which surround it, as more than one passer-by pointed out.

One middle-aged lady remarked: "It is not my idea of anything, that. Coming up the river, it just looks like a crane."

But a retired cyclist added: "Anything that gets anyone talking about the north east of England has to be a good thing."

[ image: Bolting 20 tonnes of steel together]
Bolting 20 tonnes of steel together
But Paul Rubenstein of Northern Arts urged people to give Tyne Anew a chance.

He said: "There are going to be people who think it is a waste of money and don't like it.

"But I would urge people to come down to North Shields and have a look. Because I really think this is a very impressive piece, we are delighted it has come here."

"I think they will be very surprised by what they see."

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