I visited the Knife Angel in Coventry today. It’s a powerful sculpture, speaking of knife crime in our culture. The fact it contains knives and angel feathers are blades is one of those artistic juxtapositions – wings should be feathery and soft. Childhood should be safe. Visits to parks should be fun (or if one is teenaged, at least meh).
But it was the setting of the sculpture which struck me as much as the Angel itself. Reading from left to right we have the old cathedral, destroyed in war. We have the new cathedral, built in hope. We have St Michael crushing Satan, symbolising Christ overcoming all sin. And then, we have a grim faced Angel, hands opened out…in prayer? To receive? With wings of knives and forged in uncompromising metal, which contrasts with the stone, concrete and glass behind, we are forced to confront the reality of our world.
St Michael, in the background, exudes power and confidence. The Knife Angel is diffident, asking a question rather than imposing will. St Michael, high on the Cathedral Wall, is beyond us mortals. The Knife Angel invites us forward, to look at the sadness of expression, the sadness of lives changes forever.
And yet, in the approachability of this Angel I see a message of hope.
The battle continues. The war is won.