‘Angel station needs a 25ft angel’
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
For 30 years, artist Stephen Flanagan has tried and failed to build a huge angel on top of Angel station. He tells James Morris why he won’t give up.
Richmond Crescent in Barnsbury is one of Islington’s most exclusive streets. Tall Victorian houses, grand front doors. Even the leaves on the road are artfully scattered.
It’s the former home of Tony Blair. MPs Emily Thornberry and Margaret Hodge live here. Every day on Twitter, disenfranchised voters angrily froth about the “Islington elite”. And it’s this kind of street scene - which is actually not representative of a largely deprived borough - that they imagine.
But did you know Richmond Crescent is also home to council properties? Stephen Flanagan, a 75-year-old artist, is one tenant.
He lives in a basement flat, but is lucky enough to share a front garden where his striking angel sculptures stand. Among Richmond Crescent’s preening perfection, one wonders what his neighbours make of them.
Why angel sculptures, though? Because Stephen has been on a 30-year campaign to give Angel station its own giant angel statue. He wants to build a 25ft model and install it on top of the building, but has constantly been knocked back by the authorities.
Yet Stephen clearly has pedigree. His house matches the garden for artistic messiness. There are paintings, photos and scultures in every corner - even the bathroom. He points to a painting of a penis. “This one here is a self-portrait,” he winks.
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In between jokes, there is a sombre theme, too. Stephen is a former builder and scaffolder who started creating art in 1986, when his “angel for Angel” campaign started. He is dyslexic and suffers from arthiritis, and wants assistance applying for planning permission.
“I’m ready to collapse and I need help,” he says. “Anything is possible but I can’t do this on my own. I’ve got the designs but I need help connecting with the owners of the building, Angel Square.”
Angel station is seen by many as Islington’s centrepoint. It’s why Stephen is determined to “brighten it up”.
“It’s just a plain building. A 25ft angel would give it so much more. It’s a tough world out there and an angel looking out over Islington would give us all a little bit of hope.”
Any volunteers or organisations who wish to help Stephen out should call 020 7609 7444.