Encountering the Knife Angel

Throughout November, Chester Cathedral was host to the imposing Knife Angel sculpture. This extraordinary piece was created by artist Alfie Bradley from 100,000 knives handed in during police amnesties nationwide. The Angel brings its own message to the cities it visits about the horrors and sorrowful impact of knife crime.

The Knife Angel’s stay coincided with a Poetry Workshop I was running at Chester Cathedral alongside Andrew Rudd, Poet-in-Residence at Manchester Cathedral. Using the Angel as a focus for our words was too good an opportunity to miss. Poems that came out of our workshop were afterwards displayed in the designated Angel Chapel for response and reflection whilst the Knife Angel was with us. Below are the poems written on that day:

Knife Angel outside Chester Cathedral

Here you stand, firmly grounded.

You are going nowhere, for now at least.

Goliath like, you tower above all

who stop to look. You are hard to ignore.


And I wonder, do you feel at home

with your new neighbour – this place

where angels habitually dwell?

Are you out of your comfort zone?


You are no Christmas angel, singing

in celestial choirs, nor one who speaks

his message loud and clear to virgins

and to ancient patriarchs.


Silent messenger, your outheld palms

tell of possible redemption, your

hundred thousand knives of fragile peace.

Look and learn, you say, all you who pass by.

There is another way.

Ishbel Faraday

Knife Angel at Chester Cathedral 


Here is the domesticity of family kitchens.

Chopping onions, slicing bread,

Cleaving meat for the freezer.

Utilitarian black handles

And jaunty greens, blues, pinks.

Stealthily sneaked away,

Leaving a dark coin-sized slit

In the wooden block.

Missed maybe and presumed lost.

Offensive weapons morphing

Into defensive necessities,

To be slipped into a pocket

Like a mobile phone.



Copper hammered into shape,

Sharp edges melded

Into glinting and shade, 

Smooth curves and jagged flaws

As wise men visit baby Jesus.


Smashed shards of glass

Leaded into words and figures

Splash on to worn stone floors

In a dancing shower of hues

To celebrate the saints.


Fabric scraps snipped and shaped,

Fashioned and pictured by stitches,

Crafted and quilted and bordered.

A moment of time and place

Held in transatlantic connection,


The mocking vibrancy of splattered blood

Gurgling in the suffocating mud

Now gently echoes in brushstroke daubs

Of poignantly delicate poppies, 

Remembering a victory birthed in loss


Together they speak…

Of yielding up, 

handing over, 

letting go.





Live your life

Out of the broken pieces.

                                                      Dawn Baker 

Knife Angel

Knives that thirsted for blood

Hang, suspended in silent shame

Blades, blunted cry tears of rust

As we gaze in awe and wonder

Snapping smiling selfies

In the rivers of unimaginable grief


One hundred thousand weapons delivered in amnesty

How many more dishonour our streets

Under the eyes of a steely angel

A message of anguish to all.

                                                                        Suzy Taylor 

Stopping Traffic 

You stand looking

Out, away from sanctuary.

A giant of points and blades.

Elvis, crooning ‘Missing you at Christmas’

Leaves you still, mute, yet every

Bit of you is shouting ‘How much

More blood must be spilt?’


Your hands, open to

Receive, imploring.

Your gaze asking ‘How?’ 

And ‘Why?’ to each of us

As each knife, each

Rust bloomed blade twists

In our guts, stops our breath,

At the beauty of you,

Angel of Death.

                                              Judith Bronnert

Knife Angel

Dear God,


On earth

Are we doing to ourselves?


Our pains screaming knives,

All safety gone, wrecking lives,

We all cry out for help,

Hurt, bleeding, persecuted.


See Him here, this angel,

Offering Himself to take on our sufferings,

Become wounded for us,

In His eyes, our own agony.

Surely He bears our griefs,

Forgives, yields, beckons

Us to come to Him.


And with these stripes, we are healed,

All hurts transformed into blessings.

He is our own Messiah,

Come to set us free

With comfort and healing

In His shining wings.

                                                                 Anne Conder


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  • About Julia


    From writing stories for my younger brother, to penning poems for the School Magazine and filling a growing pile of personal journals, the written word has always been part of my life’s journey.

    I started out as an English Teacher and subsequently retrained as a Counsellor. I have counselled in a GP Surgery and worked with various Employee Assistance Schemes and Charitable Trusts alongside seeing private clients.

    Although I have done some freelance journalism and written four non-fiction books, creative writing has become my main focus in recent years.

    My poems have appeared online on sites including Amaryllis, Silver Birch Press, Clear Poetry, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Riggwelter and Ink,Sweat and Tears. I have been published in Curlew and Bucks Mill Magazine, and anthologised in Our Hearts Still Sing. My first poetry collection, Chester City Walls, came out in 2015.

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