A set of Ukrainian prairie giants and a controversial angel larger than a Boeing 757 are just some of the astonishing and amusing roadside statues rounded up here. Liven up your next road trip or make these artworks a destination in themselves.
1. Angel of the North, UK
The Angel of the North, erected in 1998, is a winged, 20-metre-tall, steel figure that towers over the A1 and A167 roads in Tyne and Wear, northern England. On the site of a former colliery, it was a controversial piece of public art at the time but has become a beloved emblem. Extraordinarily, its wingspan is more than double its height – at 54 metres across it is larger than a Boeing 757. Weighing in at 208-tonnes, it was made at Hartlepool Steel Fabrications using a weathering steel that develops a deep golden-red hue over time and vertical ribbing that allows it to withstand 160km winds. British sculptor, Sir Anthony Gormley, modelled the body on himself and describes his works as “an attempt to materialise the place at the other side of appearance where we all live.”
2. WOINIC, France
If you’re crossing the Ardennes on the A34, don’t be alarmed when a colossal wild boar looms into sight, ears pricked up and looking like he might take a bite of you. WOINIC is his name and he’s the largest wild boar in the world, weighing over 50 tonnes and standing 10 metres high and 5 wide. He was transported from maker Eric Sleziak’s foundry in Bogny-sur-Meuse in an exceptional 3-day convoy, during which 120,000 people came out to wave him by. As well as being a symbol of Ardennes wildlife, he represents the industrial past and fortitude of the people of the region.
3. The Enchanted Highway, North Dakota, USA
In the eighties in North Dakota (as today in many places), rural communities were becoming extinct. The town of Regent was one of them, with just 200 people left. Local artist Gary Greff decided not to wait for a rescue from outside employers. Instead he started building gigantic metal sculptures along the newly-paved road from the Interstate 94 to Regent. More than 224,000 visitors have since taken up the invitation to see the series of sculptures which includes ‘Geese in Flight’ – a depiction of Canadian geese against a sunburst. At over 33 metres tall, it holds the World Record for the tallest scrap metal sculpture in the world.
4. The Peachoid, South Carolina, USA
This giant peach water tower along the Interstate 85 between exits 90 and 92 is a source of amusement for many, for its obvious anatomical connotations. It is even known to some as the, ahem, Moon over Gaffney. It was a clever commission by the Gaffney Board of Public Works, who needed water storage and wanted to get federal funding for it. They also wanted to advertise their abundant peach orchards. Hey presto: in 1981, with the help of the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company and Peter Freudenberg, a ‘macro-artist’, the giant peach was born.
5. Gyarah Murti, Delhi, India
This ensemble of 11 statues is a monument commemorating India’s independence movement under Mahatma Gandhi. Following Ghandi over the course of the 26-metre-long artwork by Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury are ten other bronze cast figures, including a Hindu, a Sikh and a Muslim, a turbaned man, a Christian priest, a starving man, a woman in a sari, and a youth persuading an elderly man to join the march. The statue is best approached down Delhi’s Sardar Patel Marg, which is being beautified this year as India hosts events as part of its G20 Presidency.
While we’re in India, a special mention should go to the Statue of Unity in Gujerat State, which represents India’s first post-independence Prime Minister and holds the title for the tallest statue in the world, at a total height of 240m. Although it’s so large it can be seen from space, it’s not that easy to get a good look from the road, as it is located in a special complex of attractions with the nearest carpark 6 kilometres away.
6. Inspiration 911, Stuttgart, Germany
This work’s name is unfortunate and from some angles it gives off a bit of a ‘legs akimbo’ vibe, but if you’re on a road trip, chances are you’re a petrol head too, so you’ll understand this sculpture is all about an iconic car. Featuring three streamline pillars up to 24 metres in height, each topped with a white Porsche 911 that seems about to fly into space, it sits on Porscheplatz in Stuttgart where the first 911 rolled off the assembly line in 1963. Made by British artist Gerry Judah in 2015.
7. The Ukrainian Giants of the Prairies
Ukrainians have a special history with giant statues, whether it’s the monuments imposed on them by the former USSR that have been torn down, or their own special way of solidifying their identity when driven abroad. There’s a large Ukrainian population in Canada, dating back to at least the 19th century when Canada was promoted as a destination for immigrants from Austrian-ruled Ukraine in the late 1890s. These settlers proceeded to start new lives and businesses, often publicised by enormous statues. There are over 100 in Alberta alone. Many hold World Records as the ‘World’s largest . . .’.
Fancy seeing the world’s largest sausage? You’ll have to head to Mundare in central Alberta, approximately 70 km (43 miles) east of Edmonton where Highway 15 and Highway 855 intersect.