A spectacular sculpture has arrived in Barrow town centre this week, following four weeks in Carlisle, as part of the National UK Anti-Violence Tour.

The ‘Knife Angel’, also known as the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression, was created by sculptor Alfie Bradley at the British Ironworks Centre as a symbol of the nation’s intolerance to violence and aggression

Standing at more than 8 metres tall, this unique artwork includes a hefty 100,000 blunted and sterilised knives. The items have been collected by 43 police forces in amnesties across the UK and welded to a steel frame.

The sculpture is taking a prominent position on Barrow’s Duke Street, in front of Barrow Town Hall and The Forum, where it can be seen by local residents, shoppers and day visitors exploring the town centre and surrounding area.

The Knife Angel began its tour in 2018 at Liverpool Cathedral to raise awareness of the knife crime issues facing families, communities and individuals. Although it has previously visited a number of locations nationwide, its appearances in Barrow and Carlisle mark the first time it has been seen in Cumbria.

The monument has been brought to the county as a collaboration between Barrow Borough Council, Cumbria County Council, Carlisle City Council, Drop Zone Youth Projects, South Cumbria Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) and Cumbria Police.

As well as raising awareness about the impact of knife crime at a national level - and acting as a memorial for people whose lives have been affected - the Knife Angel is being viewed as a focal point to highlight education and prevention initiatives taking place in schools and youth organisations more locally across Cumbria.

Cath Corkhill is a Director at the Drop Zone Youth Project in Barrow. She says, “The Knife Angel has already been brilliantly received in Carlisle. I visited it just before Christmas and it was both impressive and moving, although it is difficult to describe until you’re stood in front of this huge sculpture and can feel its full effect!

“Bringing this unique piece of public art to our communities is all about educating people and provoking conversations. Because it’s in such a central position within Barrow town centre and will be lit up as well, this three and a half ton structure is easily accessible for anyone to view.

“The Forum have been amazing and will be hosting a special book where people can write their comments and describe their personal experience of seeing the sculpture. An art competition is also planned over the next few weeks.”

Cath adds, “Crucially, the arrival of the Knife Angel coincides with a wider project in secondary schools to raise awareness about the effects of knife crime. Although it’s not a widespread problem in Cumbria, it is an issue which affects communities across the UK and it’s important to get young people thinking and talking about some of the challenges our society faces.”

“We’re also working with partners to develop a similar project for local primary schools, alongside resources for colleges and other organisations. This will help reinforce these key messages and create a lasting legacy for the Knife Angel’s visit.”

The monument can be seen in Barrow until 31 January. It has been moved free of charge from Carlisle to Barrow (and then onward to its next location) thanks to the generosity of D Turner and Sons.

For more inspiration about visiting Barrow town centre, visit: https://visitbarrow.org.uk/