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Knife Angel artwork celebrated

An art installation, which was inspired by the Knife Angel’s visit to Slough earlier this year, has been officially launched.

The Knife Angel, a 27ft sculpture, which is a symbol of the nation’s intolerance to violence and aggression, was at Arbour Park in January for a month of action against all forms of violence, including knife crime, domestic abuse, hate crime and bullying. 

More than 8,500 people visited the Knife Angel in Slough and more than 900 tags were left, with key messages around stopping violence.

The Art Classes Group was asked to create a lasting memory of the Knife Angel’s visit, using the tags. They came up with the “Tags Restoration project”, a 3D display where people can go around it and read the messages. This piece can easily be moved around, for educational purposes. 

Ovais Shamsuddin, from The Art Classes Group, said: “When we started the Knife Angel art installation, we created a meaningful way to address the issue of knife crime and promote social change. 

“We collaborated with three artists to research, design and create the installation. Young artists painted illustrations of the Knife Angel using a mix of art materials that reflect the metal texture of the Knife Angel and we engaged with the community to discuss awareness of knife crime. 

“The art installation was a labour-intensive process that took more than 80 hours to complete. The core of the installation consists of a collection of tags with messages from Slough communities, and a series of paintings that create a powerful tribute to the original Knife Angel sculpture.”

During the month of action, thousands of conversations about knife crime and violence took place between members of the public, volunteers and police officers. 

Representatives from the Art Classes Group, the council, Thames Valley Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, the Arts Council and the Observatory Shopping Centre, all came together at Arbour Park on 22 September, to see the artwork in person and to celebrate the joint working. 

Councillor Chandra Muvvala, lead member for public protection, I.T, customer service and young futures, said: “We were proud to work in partnership to bring the Knife Angel to Slough. We’re delighted this artwork has been created as a lasting reminder and to educate even more people about the dangers of knife crime and acts of violence. Thank you to everyone who left a tag at the Knife Angel and a special thanks to all the artists for their efforts in creating this artwork.”

Deputy Commander for Slough policing area, Chief Inspector Ashley Smith, said: “As we have seen in recent weeks, a long-term commitment to tackling violence in Slough requires police, partners and communities to unite and work together.

“Collectively, we can make a positive change for the town, and I hope this artwork will act as a catalyst for ongoing conversations around how we achieve this.

“We are dedicated in our zero tolerance of violence and aggression in Slough and we will continue to pursue those who commit such acts.”

Matthew Barber, Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, funded much of the work around the initial visit. 

He said: “I was pleased to bring the Knife Angel to Slough earlier this year. Together with the joint month of action against violence, the Knife Angel helped to raise awareness of the impact of knife crime. The creation of a more permanent art installation will be a fantastic legacy for the Knife Angel and a continued reminder of Slough’s commitment to stop serious violence. Congratulations to the Art Classes Group on creating such a powerful piece. 

“Thames Valley Police continue to do important work to take knives off our streets. The implementation of Operation Deter has seen swifter remand and charge for those who carry knives as well as specific early interventions for young people in Slough. Tackling knife crime and violence in Slough remains a priority and I will continue to work with partners in our joint aim to make Slough a safer place.”

Activities during the sculpture’s time in Slough brought together schools and parents, voluntary organisations, community groups, places of worship and local businesses. 

There were 56 educational sessions delivered to more than 3,000 children and young people, group activities and a candlelit vigil to remember those who lost their lives through knife crime.

The sculpture, created by Alfie Bradley and the British Ironwork Centre, is made up of approximately 100,000 bladed weapons collected in knife amnesty bins during police operations across the country. 

The artwork is at Arbour Park until 29 September, before going to the council offices at Observatory House, and then back to the Observatory Shopping Centre, where it will be outside the Art Classes Group gallery, on the ground floor, opposite the entrance to TK Maxx.

Visit the Art Classes Group website for more on their work.

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