A SCULPTURE made up of 100,000 knives and blades was officially unveiled in Taunton town centre this afternoon (Wednesday, April 3).

The Knife Angel, which aims to raise awareness of the negative effects of violence and aggression, will be outside the Market House until the end of the month.

The sculpture has been validated by the Home Office as the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression and is on a nationwide tour.

It stands at 27ft tall and weights 3.5 tonnes.

It was designed by artist Alfie Bradley at the British Ironwork Centre using knives and blades retrieved from amnesty bins from the UK's 43 police forces.

A short civic ceremony was held at the site with several speakers including Emma Webber, the mother of 19-year-old Barnaby, who was stabbed in Nottingham in the early hours of June 13 as he walked home with his friend Grace O'Malley-Kumar.

School caretaker Ian Coates, 65, was also killed by Valdo Calocane in the attacks.

Mrs Webber said: “Barnaby Philip John Webber was a Taunton boy. Despite being born in the Mary Stanley unit in Bridgwater – a fact he hated – he spent all of his life at our home on the outskirts of this town.

“He went to nursery here, he went to school here, he learned to drive here, he played cricket here, he had his first job here and even his first serious girlfriend.

“We were so proud of him and so delighted that he’d found a university course he enjoyed in a new city he loved and the chance to make loads of new friends.

“His life was lost, his future was stolen and, alongside that, our hearts and souls as a family were broken by a senseless, cruel, premeditated knife attack at 4.04am on Tuesday, June 12, 2023 – why?”

Somerset County Gazette: Emma Webber speaks to the media and crowds next to the Knife Angel in Taunton.Emma Webber speaks to the media and crowds next to the Knife Angel in Taunton. (Image: Newsquest)

She added: “Why is the epidemic of knife crime not being properly addressed?

“I’m not a policeman, legal expert, or a politician, I’m just a grieving mum, but it is crystal clear to me that this very, very serious problem is not going to go away, it is in fact going to get worse.

“We must find a way to de-normalise the carrying of them (knives). We must find a clear deterrent.”

Alongside the Barnaby Webber Foundation, the Knife Angel's month-long placement has been supported by anti-violence campaigner Adam Fouracre, the CEO of charity Stand Against Violence.

His brother Lloyd died after a violent attack in Taunton in 2005.

Somerset County Gazette: The sculpture is made of 100,000 knives and blades retrieved from police amnesty bins.The sculpture is made of 100,000 knives and blades retrieved from police amnesty bins. (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Fouracre said: “It is a terrific opportunity to be involved in supporting the Knife Angel project in Somerset where my brother lost his life to mindless violence.

“The Knife Angel doesn’t just represent the victims who have lost their lives to knife attacks but to all victims of violent acts.

“We still have a long way to go to see an end to violence in this country, but it begins with awareness and education - something that we hope the Knife Angel will bring and that we can absolutely support.”

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, lead member for communities, housing and culture at Somerset Council, said: “I championed the Knife Angel to come to Somerset as it is a hugely powerful work of art which serves both as a memorial to victims of violence and as a catalyst for social change across the UK.

“I know that it will encourage me to have conversations with my children and I hope that it encourages others to discuss and educate themselves and their loved ones on this important matter.

“While Somerset remains a safe place to live with relatively low levels of knife crime, we fully support the aims of the sculpture and strongly condemn all forms of violence.

“We hope the presence of the Knife Angel in Somerset during April will help raise awareness of an important national issue.”

Somerset County Gazette: The statue has been validated by The Home Office as the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression.The statue has been validated by The Home Office as the National Monument Against Violence and Aggression. (Image: Newsquest)

Cllr Tom Deakin, leader of Taunton Town Council, said: “Taunton Town Council is proud to support the temporary installation of the Knife Angel sculpture in the town centre.

“There are a number of local organisations, some with their origins in very tragic circumstances, already undertaking fantastic outreach work in the field of anti-violence education and raising awareness of the impact of aggression and violent crime on the community.

“The presence of the Knife Angel in the county will reinforce the great work that they do and bring it to a wider audience; we encourage as many people as possible to visit it and start conversations of their own at home and in school.”

The sculpture will move to Weston-super-Mare on April 30.