The Knife Angel story

The National Monument Against Violence and Aggression, known as The Knife Angel, is a collaboration between artist Alfie Bradley and the British Ironwork Centre in Shropshire. Created to raise awareness of knife crime it also stands as a memorial to those whose lives have been affected by it.
When the idea of a sculpture made entirely of knives was first discussed the Home Office was contacted for permission to collect knives from police forces across the country 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 banks completely free of charge. Permission was granted by the Home Office and the ”Save A Life, Surrender Your Knife” campaign was born.
The Ironworks created a total of 200 knife banks and during nationwide amnesties in 2015/16 over 100,000 knives were both confiscated by, or handed in to, every main constabulary across the UK. The collection of knives included machetes, meat cleavers, swords and ordinary household kitchen knives, with some even arriving at the Shropshire workshop in police evidence tubes and still with traces of blood on their surfaces.
To create the 27ft tall sculpture Alfie Bradley constructed a steel supporting frame and formed the basic angel shape using steel sheeting which the knives could be welded onto. Every knife was disinfected and blunted before being welded onto the sculpture; the wings were created using only the blades which produced a feather-like appearance, while the facial features were a mix of Alfie’s great grandad, grandad, dad and two younger brothers.
During the angel’s creation families who had lost loved ones due to knife crime and violence were invited to send a personal message of love and remembrance which Alfie would engrave onto one of the blades to be fixed on the angel’s wings. Messages were also sent from ex-offenders who had since seen the error of their ways and gone on to support the fight against knife crime and violence in a bid to stop it happening on the UK’s streets.
It took just over two years to create the sculpture and in December 2018 the Knife Angel began its official National Youth Anti-Violence Educational Programme across the UK, beginning its journey outside Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral then moving on to Hull in February 2019. Since then it’s moved on to a different town or city each month – until the end of this month it’s in Blackburn, Lancashire, which is where I saw it just a couple of days ago.
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To say that the photos don’t do this angel justice is an understatement. It’s a brilliantly designed and expertly crafted sculpture which I found very sobering and thought provoking, but regardless of what it stands for it’s a truly beautiful piece of art in its own right and I’m glad I got to see it before it moves on.

26 thoughts on “The Knife Angel story

  1. 100,000 knives . . . a number that beggars belief and may just be the tip of the iceberg.

    Now I understand why you went to so much trouble to travel there to see it. xx

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    1. If you want to see it for yourself and think it’s worth the drive it’s in Carlisle throughout December, or down in Barrow during January. Sunday was definitely a faff with the train situation but there was no problem on Monday and I’m glad I went to see it.

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    1. I’m not sure how convenient this would be for you location-wise but the angel is in Carlisle during December if you want to see it. My initial weekend trip to see it was scuppered by no trains to Blackburn (I never drive there as the one-way system is an absolute nightmare) but my second attempt went perfectly.

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    1. It’s incredible the sheer number of knives that went into the making of the angel, it definitely makes you think. I wonder if the artist kept a record of the actual number of hours/days he took to create it – it must run into thousands.

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  2. I’ve read a lot about the Knife Angel but so far not had the chance to see it. While you may be right that your photos can’t do it justice, they certainly give me a closer look than I’ve had elsewhere, and some different angles. I must try to see it but I don’t think it’s been in the London area yet?

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    1. The angel hasn’t been in the London area so far but there’s a possibility it could be in Havering sometime next year though there’s nothing definite yet. The locations rely on various local councils, police forces etc making arrangements to host it and signing an agreement to use it as a point of tuition and education for the youth in their community. If it is ever in your neck of the woods then it’s definitely worth going to see it.

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  3. That’s amazing, isn’t it. I’ve seen photos of it before but knew nothing about it, what a fantastic initiative, what it stands for and, hopefully, what it can achieve.

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    1. Sadly there were two knife-related crimes within 48 hours in Manchester city centre last weekend, one guy who died was just an innocent bystander. The angel hasn’t been to Manchester yet but I hope it does soon, and I hope its powerful message gets through to some people.

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  4. I hadn’t realised that the knife angel triggered the knife banks – I’d always assumed they were already collected. That so many were taken out of circulation due to the construction of the sculpture is a sobering thought.

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    1. 100,000 knives confiscated or surrendered in a two-year period is an unbelievable number and it’s incredible that such a beautiful and powerful sculpture has been made out of things associated with crime and often death.

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  5. OMG………your blog came up this morning on my old laptop, so hopefully it will again on future mornings. That knife sculpture is amazing & I realise I’ve a lot of reading to do of old posts in some spare time. Thanks for sharing an amazing story. Take care & hugs.

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  6. The artist is obviously an exceptionally talented guy to be able to create something so powerful and so beautiful – it’s a fabulous sculpture and definitely worth the trouble it took me to go and see it.

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  7. I would love to see that angel. I can only imagine what all those messages say. It’s so sad but so beautiful all at once. I’m glad you went to see him and that you shared him with us. Have a good day!

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  8. I’m glad I saw it on your Instagram Sharon, I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. It’s certainly very impressive and well worth the train ride. I actually set out to see it on Sunday morning but discovered there were no trains between here and Blackburn so I went on Monday instead 🙂

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