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8th October 2020

Force to bee reckoned with: Manchester’s new anti-violence statue

The landscape of Manchester will soon feature a giant sculpture of a bee, constructed out of reclaimed knives
Force to bee reckoned with: Manchester’s new anti-violence statue
Photo: British Ironwork Centre

Manchester’s worker bee is one of the city’s best-known symbols and has represented its hard-working industrial roots for more than 150 years. Many different sculptures and images are spread throughout the city in honour of it, with the latest addition to the North’s best hive being commissioned.

This will be a giant sculpture of a bee made out of knives, guns and other deadly weapons collected off the streets of Greater Manchester.

The sculpture is the creation of The British Ironwork Centre, who were behind the National Monument Against Violence known as the Knife Angel. The Knife Angel toured the UK back in 2019 and is scheduled to be hosted in Manchester in August 2021, by which time the Centre hopes it will have been to over 20 cities and towns. 

In a statement to The Mancunion, the British Ironwork Centre said that the idea came from their meetings with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) last year, when discussing how the city would host the National Monument Against Violence. 

They said: “We offered to partner with GMP in creating a permanent sculpture against violence, that would stay in Manchester hopefully permanently.

“The bee concept was developed by our design team after feedback was gained from many Manchester groups contacted and GMP. 

“The concept is that it’s something beautiful created from something awful….all the weapons will have been collected from the Manchester streets.” 

Currently, there are no set plans as to where the sculpture will be positioned. This may not be decided until its size and weight is accurately known, but it will most likely reside in a prominent position with lots of foot traffic. 

When asked what they thought the sculpture would accomplish, the centre said that it hopes “it will be a permanent symbol of Manchester’s intolerance to violence”. 

They added: “It will be used as a visual tool, for anti-violence and aggression workshops, initiatives and programmes.

“It’s a permanent reminder of how much more we can all be doing to reduce violence (of all kinds) in Manchester and within the wider world.” 

The Centre also said that it received a very positive reaction from the local community.  Many have asked for their loved ones to be remembered on the “Manchester anti-violence monument”.

They continued: “Many are going to travel here, to inscribe a weapon on the monument themselves, we are offering them that ability by providing access to the workshop and an engraving machine…. any that struggle we will do for them.

“Our main concern is reaching all the affected – especially the 800 reported to have been injured but survived the [Manchester Arena] blast. Offering everyone the opportunity to include their name or most importantly a message or brief statement condemning violence or a message to a loved one, whatever they feel is right for them.” 

The Covid-19 outbreak is likely to delay the monument’s instalment. However, the Centre confirmed that work on it had begun and that it will be completed either this year or by early 2021. 

The Centre said: “We always apply ourselves to these projects fully, it will be stunning…. No corners will be cut….it’s our passion to support our nation and to see our work address and improve national issues and difficulties. 

“Art has the power to provoke thought and to encourage people to self reflect over how they behave, this will succeed in doing the same.” 

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