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Monday, 14 October, 2002, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
'Angel of the North West' appears
Workmen put the finishing touches to Encounter
Encounter is erected near the M62
The tallest piece of English public art since Nelson's column has been unveiled at a junction of the M62.

The 91-feet high Encounter sculpture is set to put Birchwood, Cheshire, on the map and has already been called the "Angel of the North West" after the famous Gateshead landmark.

But the massive structure also contains a hidden secret - a mobile phone transmitter.

"I am incredibly proud of it," said Phillipa Sudlow of Birchwood Forum, which commissioned Encounter.

Flying figures

"I don't mind it being compared to the Angel of the North because it captured the imagination of people across the country, which Encounter is going to do as well."

Created by sculptor Stephen Broadbent, Encounter is designed to symbolise the relationship between business and the community.

Birchwood, near Warrington, has one of the largest business parks in Europe.

"It is based on two figures flying through the air together - one representing business and the other the community," Ms Sudlow told BBC News Online.

"It is on a piece of land beside the motorway which was quite scrappy, and it has now been transformed."

Hidden mast

One of the main backers of the project is mobile phone firm Hutchison 3G, which has concealed the three radio antennae half-way up the sculpture.

A spokesman said the mast meant it would be a working structure as well as a work of art.

He told BBC News Online: "It is emblematic of the whole idea behind the sculpture - that of business and the community working together.

"We would like to stress that since we became involved with this project we have been completely open, honest and transparent about our involvement."

Despite the health fears surrounding masts, Birchwood Forum hopes Encounter will ape the Angel of the North and become one of the most talked about pieces of art in the country.


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12 Sep 02 | England
16 Feb 98 | UK
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