The Knife Angel recently made an appearance in Gateshead. It has now moved on to Shropshire, further venues will appear on the web.
Here is what the creators said.
“The British Ironwork Centre is a family run business based in Oswestry and is home to Shropshire’s largest display of decorative metalwork. The Centre was first opened in 2014 at the unveiling of the famous Spoon Gorilla, a giant silverback gorilla made from 40,000 spoons. After this we wanted a new project which could embody a more meaningful concept and could make a difference within the community and throughout the country as a whole.
Following the success of the Spoon Gorilla, one enthusiastic visitor enquired as to whether we intended to use the entire cutlery draw to create the next project, which really got our minds thinking. This thought process brought the current knife crime epidemic to the forefront of the Centre’s attention and in particular how more awareness and education is needed.
“Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife” was born.
The team at the Ironworks, along with artist Alfie Bradley discussed the idea of creating an Angel sculpture made completely out of knives, to grab attention and bring the issue of knife crime to the front of society’s consciousness. The Home Office was contacted, requesting permission to collect knives from police forces. This was in the hope that this co-operation would bring about the introduction of new knife amnesties with the Ironworks offering to supply each force with knife bins completely free of charge. Permission was granted and the campaign took off.
The making of the Knife Angel
After contacting Police Forces and gaining good feedback from our local force and Crime Commissioner, we started to create knife banks which would be placed in external and internal locations across each forces county. Amnesties were run and knives and weapons were handed in anonymously. We then would organise a collection from each force to return the weapons back here to Shropshire so the creation of the Knife Angel could commence.
In total an incredible 200 knife banks were created here in our workshops, all at our own cost. We understood that funding cuts were one of the main reasons police forces just couldn’t afford to create knife banks to carry out successful amnesties. Some knife banks even costing over 4,000 to create.
Once the knives and weapons were delivered to our workshop in Shropshire, artist Alfie got to work. He created a structure out of steel and formed the basic shape which the knives could then be welded onto steel sheeting formed the external, organic shape of the angel.
He then disinfected every blade of the thousands of weapons that came in. Some coming in evidence tubes with bodily fluids on their surface. He then blunted each knife before welding it onto the sculpture. The wings were then created using the blades only, creating a feather like appearance.
We work very closely with charities and families who have been directly affected by knife crime and violence. Working so closely with the families has been crucial in campaigning and raising awareness throughout the campaign. The people who have been directly affected by knife crime have the most powerful voice.
Families who had lost loved ones due to knife crime and violence were invited to engrave an everlasting message on a blade which will be included on the monument. We were astounded at the sheer volume of requests we received. We are still working through these everlasting message requests from families across the country who can’t travel to Shropshire to see the sculpture in person.
So far over 80 families have contacted the British Ironwork Centre in the hope their message can be included on the sculpture. Messages of love and remembrance feature on the angel’s wings, messages not only from families but also perpetrators who have seen the error of their ways and now fight knife crime and violence in a bid to stop it happening on our streets.
What’s next for the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression
There is an overwhelming tide of public opinion that wants to see this incredible national monument “fulfil its destiny ”, in raising countrywide awareness of the epidemic that has now become knife crime. This scourge and ever increasing problem is currently going largely unchallenged, with more and more weapons surfacing on our streets.
The monument was created for one purpose only, to focus a spotlight on this national embarrassment, both our government and our educational system need to accept there’s far more to be done, and grasp this nettle.
We can only succeed in doing this with the public's support; as such we have created the ‘Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife’ petition. Only with the public’s help can the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression, and its message reach those it was intended for, to ensure no one is left in any doubt , that this blight needs conquering.”
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For a list of Ian Cook's photography and TravelGumbo contributions, please click on this link.