An Angel for Powys
|Hands of Hope|
It was an emotional day in Newtown in early January when the Knife Angel made his way from the British Ironworks in Oswestry to his new home outside the Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown. Transported on the back of a large crane he arrived on a cold Friday afternoon to a crowd of people who'd turned out to watch him arrive. It took some time and was breathtaking to witness the 30 foot statue being lifted in to place. The official launch was Saturday 4th January. Newtown resident and former mayor Sue Newham describes the launch in her own words for us.
"Powys County Councillor, Joy Jones, who instigated the visit of the Knife Angel to Newtown, was joined by a large crowd of Newtown residents and visitors at the launch event on Saturday 4th January. Joy explained how a chance conversation with the owner of the British Ironworks Centre in Oswestry, Clive Knowles, led to a 5 week flurry of activity, when a gap in the Knife Angel schedule became available at short notice.
As a Newtown resident, I was aware that not everyone felt positive about this very emotive sculpture coming to an area with few issues with knife crime. However, Clive Knowles, and the artist behind the work, Alfie Bradley, both explained that the Angel is intended as a National Monument against Violence and Aggression. It is made with surrendered or seized knives from all police forces across the UK. Each knife has been individually sterilised and blunted before being incorporated into the monument which stands about 30 foot high. Some of the knives have been engraved with messages from individuals and families who have suffered because of violent crime.
During the event, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelan, spoke about Mid Wales being the area in the UK with the lowest levels of violent crime. There was a round of applause from the crowd, as he said that it was the Dyfed-Powys Police Force's strong desire to keep violent crime out of the area. He mentioned the recent trials of the County Lines drug gang, operating out of Merseyside into Mid Wales. This led to the successful conviction of 18 people, jailed for a total of 101 years. He warned that drugs gangs use violence and threats to avoid detection, and urged members of the community to work with the police to stop other gangs taking the place of those caught.
The response to the Angel was striking. Its questioning face and outstretched hands reach out to the viewer and seem to ask the question, "Why?" People were clearly fascinated by how it had been created, as well as moved by its message.
After the launch event, I visited the sculpture in the evening, to see it with the colour change lighting on it. It is a phenomenal achievement and a very powerful statement. If you have the chance to see it while it is in Newtown, I would recommend it.
|Launch photo thanks to Andy Newham|
Joy Jones,County Councillor for Powys, who is the driving force behind the Knife Angel coming to Powys explains why she feels it's important for our local communities.
"The knife angel comes to Powys with a very powerful message of anti violence. It is touring the UK in a bid to raise awareness for anti-violence. This sculpture also recognises those affected by knife crime. Although Powys doesn’t have a high incidence of knife crime there are various other issues of violence that we see in Powys.There has been a serious problem with 'Countylines' which is drug and dealing gangs, we know there are assaults, domestic abuse or even bullying, etc which the knife angel brings a powerful message to remind people we do not tolerate any of it.
I would like to ask others in Powys to stand up against violence if we all work together Powys could be a better place.It has been very interesting to hear from people who have visited the Knife Angel of the meaning it has for them. I am really pleased to have had the opportunity to bring it to Powys and for Newtown to have had the privilege to host it while it had been here.There has been fantastic community spirit with people and businesses pulling together to help. I am very grateful to everyone for came to support the Knife Angel's visit.Even when the Knife Angel leaves on 29th January we need to keep the message going, Powys Stands Up Against Violence,"
|Councillor Joy Jones with Alfie Bradley, Clive Knowles and Matthew Price|
There is no doubt that the Knife Angel sends a powerful message. He's located just in front of the Oriel Davis Gallery where his wings reflect in the burnished steel panels of the gallery. Kate Morgan-Clare, Creative Producer for the gallery describes the impact of the Knife Angel, "The gallery is really pleased to play a part in this initiative. News of the Knife Angel’s presence in front of the gallery has brought thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds, from the town and beyond, to visit. The Angel is a powerful monument to the victims of knife crime and an inspiring, skilfully made piece of art. It demonstrates the ability of art and creativity to communicate important social and personal messages. We have met many visitors who pop in to watch the short film we are showing about the making of the Angel. We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of visitors who have often made long journeys to experience the sculpture and moved by the many heart felt comments left in the visitors book in the gallery foyer."
The Knife Angel will be in Newtown until Wednesday 29th January. A leaving ceremony is due to be held on Saturday 25th January. Gathering at Wesley St at 4.30 with a procession to the Angel at 5.00 with battery powered tea lights or torches at 5.00. He is due to leave the county to take up residence in other Welsh towns. He has undoubtedly made a huge impact on the local community with people visiting from the all corners of the UK. His visit has sent a powerful message about standing up to violence which will hopefully long remain in people's memories helping to make our communities healthier, safer places to live and bring up future generations in peace.