A sculpture made from melted down, seized guns will be unveiled on Tuesday 8 March at the Manchester Cathedral, 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 Tony Lloyd at Manchester Cathedral on International Women’s Day. The move is 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.
“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”, Karen said.
Guns to Goods received support from the 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 as well as Erinma Bell sharing her thoughts about her current and future work. The ceremony will also see Tony Lloyd recognise Erinma’s contribution and Chief Constable Ian Hopkins discuss the importance of celebrating activism within Greater Manchester’s communities.
“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”.
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”.