IMAGES of an angel sculpture made of 100,000 confiscated knives in place outside Coventry Cathedral have emerged on social media.
Yesterday (March 14) the 27-foot high Knife Angel – created as a symbol of peace amid rising knife crime – arrived in the city where it will remain until April 23.
Jayda James, sister of Jaydon James, 16, fatally knifed in Wood End and Neville Staple, the grandfather of Fidel Glasgow, stabbed to death outside Club M in the city cente, turned out to welcome the sculpture and send a message on the devastating effects of knife crime.
Jayda said on Facebook: “Such a wave of emotions looking at this sculpture. Love and miss you Jaydon.”
Ska and Specials legend Neville Staple said ‘put away your knives’ and ‘we’re all responsible’ speaking about the angel on Twitter.
His wife Christine ‘Sugary’ Staple spoke on Sky News about her grandson Fidel’s knifing. She said: “If the guy who – whatever his reason for hurting Fidel that night – if he’d have just used his fists Fidel would still be here now.”
Neville added: “It wells me up now even talking about it – seeing this (the sculpture). People who have lost family through knife crime, it’s going to be with them forever.”
It was created by artist Alfie Bradley as employed and commissioned by the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire.
He said on Twitter “Neville Staple and Sugary Staple, so sorry to hear about your grandson Fidel yesterday. Hope we can make things change.”
The family of Daniel Kennell who was stabbed to death by his friend Ryan Preston were also in attendance as the sculpture was erected.
His mum Mandy Bates said: “It’s beautiful but it’s also very emotional for me to see it here.
“Many of the knives in this sculpture were used in crimes, and have even take somebody’s life.
“For me, The Angel is asking, why are you doing this, and is the violence committed worth it?”
Mandy with her daughters are setting up the Daniel Kennell Foundation.
She said they hope in creating the Foundation to make sure that his life was not taken in vain and that families who have lost their loved have a platform for their story to also be heard.
She said that among the aims of the Foundation would be to work with organisations in the city to provide facilities for knives to be safely disposed to help prevent knife crime and offer support to the families affected by it within the Coventry area.
As we reported, the angel is touring the country to raise awareness of knife crime and send a message to prevent violence in the future.
BIC and Mr Bradley then teamed up with the 43 police forces across the country so that the blades they recovered could be used to bring the concept to life.
It took four years to build after permission was granted by the Home Office to collect the knives.
About a third of the knives received from police forces had blood on them and were transported in bio-hazard tubes.
It is intended to be physical reminder of the effects of violence and aggression.
And a number of city figures have welcomed its arrival.
Creative director of the Coventry City of Culture Trust Chenine Bhathena said: “We have all seen the devastating effects that knife crime is having on communities right across the UK, including in our city of Coventry.
“A range of organisations across the city are already working together to tackle this issue and we should use the opportunity of having the Knife Angel in Coventry as a way of widening the conversation and making sure we work with our younger communities to create a safer city and to encourage peace and create greater hope.
“Powerful works of art, such as the Knife Angel – a work of national significance – have a way of provoking some of those very difficult conversations that need to be had.”
Rashid Bhayat, of the Positive Youth Foundation – which works with young people across the city – said: “Now it’s in place we’re looking forward to hearing the responses from young people, families and the community once they have seen this impressive sculpture. We need to listen to what they tell us, and act on their feedback to find a way forward.”
The Reverend Kathryn Fleming, of Coventry Cathedral, said: “Coventry Cathedral is no stranger to pain and destruction so it seems fitting that the Knife Angel should stand beside our own guardian, St Michael, and help us to gather our thoughts and longings for peace in our city.
“Just before Christmas we hosted the funeral for Jaydon James, one of the city’s own victims of knife crime, and even in that dark time we dared to speak of hope for a better tomorrow.
“In making something beautiful from the ugliness and violence of the knives Alfie Bradley follows a pattern that is part of the Cathedral’s own DNA – using the pain of the past to build something brighter and stronger – a peaceful future.”