Blunt Blades, a new display exploring our complex relationships with knives and their variety of roles by leading visual artist, Arabel Lebrusan, opens at The Higgins Bedford on Thursday 11 November 2021.
Knife crime in the UK is the highest it has been in over a decade. Informed by years of research after Arabel received three crates of confiscated knives and weapons from Bedfordshire Police in 2013, this display explores whether the meaning of an object can be re-established and transformed to evoke different emotions.
The display 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."
Detective Inspector Mark Pugh, from Bedfordshire Police's Boson guns and gangs team, said: "We are happy to support this project as it's wonderful to see these 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."
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 www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk for more information.
Blunt Blades is the progression of Arabel Lebrusan's Blunt Blades Exchange, a community art project that invited women from vulnerable backgrounds to come together to customise confiscated knives into rings with their own empowering designs for personal wear.