A new display, Blunt Blades, launches at the Higgins Bedford this week, exploring our complex relationship with knives.
Created by visual artist, Arabel Lebrusan, the display opens on Thursday 11 November, at a time when knife crime in the UK is the highest its been for over a decade.
The work is informed by years of research after Arabel received three crates of confiscated knives and weapons from Bedfordshire Police in 2013.
Detective Inspector Mark Pugh, from Bedfordshire Police’s Boson guns and gangs team, said it was wonderful to see the confiscated weapons being used in a positive way.
“We will always look to support new and creative ways to raise awareness of the consequences of knife crime, particularly amongst young people,” he said.
The display explores whether the meaning of an object can be re-established and transformed to evoke different emotions.
It features seven new works in a variety of mediums, including photography, sculpture, jewellery, drawings and audio, delving into the commonly held perception of knives from specialised tools in everyday jobs to status symbols and deadly weapons, and transforming their meanings.
Drawing from a selection of over 40 historic examples of blades from The Higgins Bedford’s collections, the display will be accompanied by a publication of short stories.
Members of the public and amateur writers were invited to pen new histories and narratives for the culturally significant objects, giving a voice to individuals in the community with a story to tell, as well as encouraging them to consider the varied roles of knives.
Arabel Lebrusan said: “Since that day eight years ago, my mind has been occupied with the idea of transforming the metal from these confiscated objects into works that could evoke other emotions. What makes a kitchen knife become a deadly weapon? What makes a deadly weapon become a one-of-a-kind jewel, or a beautiful home ornament?
“Objects and materials have the potential to hold memories. I’m fascinated by this idea that matter can vibrate, communicating with us as human beings; with the ways materials carry inherent meanings and how those meanings can be reshaped.”
Regular Clanger readers may remember Arabel Lebrusan’s previous Lace in Place project in St Paul’s Square in Bedford.
The enormous Bedfordshire lace panels were a collaborative effort, made by local lacemakers and members of the Bedford community as part of a Bedford Creative Arts project.
Councillor Doug McMurdo, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “Arabel Lebrusan’s display is really interesting and both explores and challenges some of our views on knives and the role they play.
“The display opens on 11 November 2021 and I’d like to encourage visitors and residents to come along, find out more and take part in one of the workshops that will be starting from next year.”
The display is free to visit at The Higgins Bedford until 30 October 2022 and is supported by Arts Council England.
There will also be a programme of workshops exploring the various roles of knives to accompany the exhibition which will be scheduled for 2022.
Visit thehigginsbedford.org.uk for more information.