Artist Creates ‘Knife Angel’ to Protest Crime in the UK but Irks Families of Victims

The large-scale sculpture will be made of 100,000 knives seized by police.

Some of the 100,000 knives donated for the sculpture
Photo: via the Shropshire Star


British artist Alfie Bradley is creating a “knife angel” sculpture made out of 100,000 knives seized by police or handed to them as part of the ongoing knife amnesty project in the UK.

The large-scale statue, which will be 24-feet tall once it’s finished, will be displayed in London’s Trafalgar Square in 2016, and will then tour all across the country.

In an effort to encourage those who want to distance themselves from violent crime, there is amnesty granted in the UK to those who hand in weapons to the police on designated days. Bradley’s sculpture is made of these collected weapons, as well as those seized in the course of fighting crime.

“It’s an enormous task,” Bradley told the Guardian. “We are liaising with 43 police forces. Most people will only see the finished project but they won’t see the enormous work that goes in to take these thousands of weapons off the streets. We see huge theatrical weapons, like machetes and samurai swords, which come over for the gift market but end up on our streets,” he explained.

The project has divided opinion amongst the families of victims of knife crime, with some wanting to donate knives engraved with the names of lost family members to be added to the work, and others wanting the project to be scrapped.

Those against the project have started a Facebook group called Say No to the Knife Angel.

Bradley with MP for Shropshire <br> Photo: courtesy the Shropshire Star

Bradley with the MP for Shropshire, who supports the project.
Photo: via the Shropshire Star.

“Yet another stabbing. Do they really believe the @knife Angel will help prevent this or make people think twice?” wrote Marie Smith on the Facebook page of the group.

Yet, many are comforted by the project, and Bradley has received over 100 visits from families of knife crime victims.

“I know this will shock many but I want you to see this is a real knife engraved with a real victims name … My son. This is the most evil thing in the world to me but has been turned in to the most beautiful Angel, full of sadness yes, but full of goodness that it will show as every knife that goes into this tremendous Angel has been taken off the streets and counts as another life saved,” wrote Theresa Cave on Facebook.

Bradley has said that the work is intended to shock and draw attention to the size and severity of the problem. “The angel’s face will be one of dismay, with its arms open as if to say: ‘Why?’,” he explained. “We want to spur the country to action,” he added.

There is much urgency surrounding the problem as many people killed in the UK are teenagers. Bradley’s project is being run by British Ironworks and supported by the Government Home Office.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics