A SUPERMARKET has issued an unreserved apology for using one of the North-East’s most recognisable landmarks as an advertising hoarding.

A giant image of a French baguette was projected on the wings of the Angel of the North in Gateshead on Friday night, along with the Morrisons supermarket logo.

The stunt has been blasted by the council, who said it had not been approached in advance, and received with weary resignation by the giant sculpture’s creator, Antony Gormley.

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He said: “I'd rather the Angel is not used for such purposes, but it's out there.”

The artwork, which is visible from the A1 and is passed by thousands of motorists a day, was finished in 1998, and is now owned by Gateshead Council.

A spokesman for council said it does not approve any lighting of the structure and had not given permission for the advert.

The spokesman said: "The Angel has become a much-loved and iconic symbol of Gateshead and the wider North-East.

"Many goods and services have and want to be profiled alongside it, and there is a filming process in place to work with organisations to do this, although this does not include lighting the Angel in any way.

"It is disappointing this process does not appear to have been followed."

Councillor John McElroy, who represents the Chowdene ward and lives nearby, said: “I think it is probably inappropriate.

"There is a legitimate debate about whether it should be illuminated and the merits and demerits of that. Antony Gormley is not very keen on that but it could look awesome at night.

“But I do not think it is appropriate to use it for commercial purposes and I do not think many people would support that.”

Photographer Michael Powell projected the picture while working for Image Wise, which was contracted by Morrisons.

He said: “The image was projected from the south side of the statue and not very bright.

“It needed an exposure on a tripod of several seconds to capture, 15 seconds in the one that has been published.

“Just one person visited that I noticed, a gentleman patiently waiting to photograph the statue against the stars once the projectors were switched off.

“My first shot was taken at 9.28pm and the final shot at 11.12pm.”

The baguette projection is part of the supermarket's campaign to win back customers, particularly from discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl.

A Morrisons spokesman said it was supposed to be a light-hearted way to catch people’s attention.

He said: “We’re sorry if people thought we got carried away by shining a baguette on the Angel of the North and apologise unreservedly to those to whom we have caused offence.

“We were trying something different which was meant to put a smile on people’s faces but clearly it wasn’t to everybody’s tastes.

“We’re so proud of our northern roots and the last thing we want to do is offend anybody.”

The 20-metre-high Angel, which has a 54-metre wingspan has been interfered with before.

Shortly after it was unveiled, about 25 Newcastle United fans draped a giant replica No 9 shirt across the chest of the statue using fishing lines, rubber balls and catapults.

The shirt stayed up for 20 minutes until police arrived and it was removed.