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Reflect on the purpose of public sculpture, address issues like anti-social behaviour and public safety. Design a creative response aimed at promoting an anti-violence message within the Bolton community.

Knife Angel, the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression was brought to Bolton and was located on Deansgate across November 2023. It is made from 100k nationally seized knives, is 27 ft tall and weighs over 3 tonnes. As part of the UK tour, it visited Bolton to highlight the negative impact that violence has on communities. The aim of the tour was to ignite conversations around how better to settle disputes.

In October 2023 Creatives Now was successful in applying for a £500 micro grant through Bolton CVS to develop a creative response to the Knife Angel using the theme of Violence and Aggression. The funding provided Creatives Now with an opportunity to visit, be inspired by and respond creatively to an internationally recognised large scale artwork.

Creatives Now commissioned emerging artist Stewart Knights. Stewart had been volunteering with Creatives Now for over 12 months and had recently established himself as freelance artist with Neo:artists in Bolton. Stewart was commissioned to deliver four creative workshops with Creatives Now, including the Knife Angel visit. Prior to the group’s visit to the Knife Angel, Creatives Now had taken part in group discussions on themes of negativity and shared values, and they produced an initial collaborative creative response using paint. Eight members of the group visited the Knife Angel on Saturday 25th November. On the day of the visit, the artist shared information about the Knife Angel, it's design and construction and what it represents.

Creatives Now members were fascinated with the Knife Angel sculpture. They were particularly interested in the messages engraved into the individual blades and sought to incorporate similar messages into their own artworks, focusing on ideas that opposed/contrasted themes of violence and aggression. Group members also drew inspiration from their personal experiences, memories and family backgrounds.

They chose sculpture as the artform in which they would produce their individual creative responses, using the mediums of clay and acrylic paint, and they worked together to plan how their creative responses would be displayed, visiting a local charity shop to select small pieces of furniture to transform into exhibition plinths.

Creatives Now describe their sculptural responses:
• The Knife Angel statue was a message of violence and the plea of peace. My statues relate to it through their shared symbolisms relating to everyone in a different way. They each contrast, the wolf a traditional symbolism of cultural nationalism in Eastern Europe. The slug being a very light-hearted sculpture which I plan to place in the bedroom area to act as a symbol of childhood, that creativity is eternal/universal, silly as well as organised.
• My sculpture is based on a memory with family it relates to the Knife Angel as they both represent memories and how objects maintain them.
• It has meaning and sentimental value. The Knife Angel reminds people of the bad things that can happen, whereas my sculpture brings back good memories.
• These sculptures relate to the Knife Angel because they are lots of seemingly random trinkets which are secretly more personal to me and my family.
• It releases to the people directly and you can understand how it relates.
• It can relate to people in different ways. You can interpret it in your own way and it can mean anything to you, you can decide yourself. Also your interpretation can’t be wrong and you take it in your own way.

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