Recycled guns sculpture to honour peace activist

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A sculpture made from melted down, seized guns will be unveiled next week to honour influential peace activist Dr Erinma Bell MBE DL….reports Asian Lite News.

Artist Karen Lyons's creation - A sculpture made from melted down, seized guns to honour influential peace activist Dr Erinma Bell MBE DL.
Artist Karen Lyons’s creation – A sculpture made from melted down, seized guns to honour influential peace activist Dr Erinma Bell MBE DL.

The bust, made to immortalise the woman who fought to rid Moss Side streets of gun crime, will be unveiled by Police and Crime Commissioner TonyLloyd at Manchester Cathedral on International Women’s Day to mark her contribution to Greater Manchester’s communities.

It has been produced by Guns to Goods, an arts based initiative converting illegal firearms into sculpture to celebrate inspirational stories and champions of peace.  It has been sculpted by Manchester-based artist Karen Lyons.

Karen said: “I wanted to use my sculpture to honour the great work that women do. Erinma is an important example of the diverse and distinct voices of women in the city. We wanted to unveil the sculpture on International Women’s Day 2016 as the theme is ‘Women’s Voices – Changing Manchester’, and is a celebration of the enormous roles that women play. This seems like an incredibly fitting tribute to that theme.”

Guns to Goods received support from Arts Council England to produce the piece, which will be on display at Manchester Cathedral until May. It will then be exhibited at the Peoples’ History Museum and the University of Salford’s MediaCityUK campus later in the year.

The unveiling will see the artist talk about her motives and inspiration, Erinma Bell share her thoughts about her current and future work, Tony Lloyd recognise Erinma’s contribution and Chief Constable Ian Hopkins discuss the importance of celebrating activism within Greater Manchester’s communities.

Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said:  “It is totally appropriate to unveil this sculpture today, on International Women’s Day. Erinma is an inspiration to local people, showing what can be achieved when communities take a stand and work together with police and other agencies to make our neighbourhoods safer and stronger.

“I’ve seen the devastation gun crime leaves in its wake – it has no place on our streets. Today we celebrate how far we have come in taking firearms off our streets and how, thanks to the people of Moss Side and South Manchester, and people like Erinma, we are building a safer future for our children.

“This is an achievement we should remember, not just today, but every day.”

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said:  “The number of firearm-related incidents remains incredibly low in comparison to its peak in 2007/2008, and the public should be reassured that we are working hard every day to deter and dismantle this selfish and reckless criminal behaviour. We can’t do it alone however, which is why inspiring individuals such as Erinma are so crucial to supporting our communities, reducing gun crime and saving lives.

“The sculpture is symbolic, showing items that were once used in such a destructive way transformed into a representation of those who have fought to safeguard our future, one free from gun crime and violence.

“We will continue to work to make the streets safer. Community vigilance is pivotal in our work and we urge people to come forward and work with police and people like Erinma to help us tackle something that has no place in our towns and cities.