Over the years since the Knife Angel’s conception, the British Ironwork Centre have been approached many times regarding the Knife Angel monument being homed in Shrewsbury. Very recently, they were again approached over the possibility of the Angel, also recognised as the National Monument Against Violence & Aggression, replacing the ‘Clive of India’ statue which currently sits within Shrewsbury’s Market Hall Square.
Nearly 20,000 signatures have been added to a number of petitions asking that the ‘Clive of India’ statue is replaced, based upon the view that the statue historically no longer reflects our more modern reflective and equal society, and rather represents some difficult attributes and actions that no longer could be considered as admirable. Many of those backing the petitions to remove the sculpture believe that it goes against many of the ethics that we hold dear today.
Robert Clive, also known as ‘Clive of India’ was widely known for using his position and influence within the British Raj (British Empire) to personally benefit from India’s wealth whilst exploiting its people, relieving them of valuable and irreplaceable national antiquities and personally creating an unparalleled private estate full of priceless objects. This being at the expense of a huge swath of Indian deaths and worse, allegedly a famine.
In stark contrast, the Knife Angel reflects a more present-day sentiment of peaceful reconciliation whilst rejecting all forms of violent and aggressive behaviour. The monument not only pays homage to the millions of lives lost to violent actions and behaviours but is also an important educational tool for raising better awareness surrounding all forms of violence. The issue surrounding removing historical sculptures such as ‘Clive of India’ will be debated at the next full Shropshire Council meeting.
A spokesperson from the Ironworks has said: “Unfortunately, it is not possible to offer Shrewsbury the Angel as it is still committed to being used on a National Anti-Violence Tour of the UK, which raises and ignites educational programmes and events right across the UK. This tour will hopefully restart as soon as the current disruption subsides. There is still a large volume of cities and towns wishing to host the Angel and embrace the compulsory 30-days of anti-violence education in each city. To date, eleven UK cities and towns have hosted the Angel and have completed their educational programmes.
The latest locations wishing to be included within the tour are Leeds and towns in Lancashire such as Blackburn and possibly Burnley, with various London Boroughs also now stepping forward to join this national effort.”
Mr Knowles from the Ironworks has said: “We would always wish to support Shrewsbury, and Shropshire as a whole, in undertaking any changes that the people of Shrewsbury wish to make. As the Angel is not available, we have offered our sculpture of Charles Darwin, which was created by local artist Luke Kite or our latest creation, the ‘Shropshire Woolly Mammoth’ sculpture. Both sculptures positively represent Shropshire’s history and have been offered at no cost to Shrewsbury. It is obviously a great honour to have our work featured in Shrewsbury however, we want to ensure that the public are thoroughly consulted and that their communal wishes are met before any changes are made.
We would also be more than willing to work alongside Shropshire Council, the Shrewsbury BID team, and the Shrewsbury Town Council to develop an entirely new sculpture – perhaps something to celebrate our NHS and frontline workers, who are unarguably today’s heroes.”
Pictured: Ironworks’ Darwin Sculpture in Shrewsbury’s Market Hall Square.
Pictured: Graham Andrews & His Reimagining of the ‘Clive of India’ Monument Replaced with the Ironworks’ Darwin Sculpture