Reading Amnesty Art



The Beginning

In 2021, local partners and community representatives began to explore how an art project could help educate young people on the risks of knife crime and help them make positive choices.

The ambition was for a locally-designed sculpture, with input from young people. A symbol of hope and peace that would act as a catalyst for outreach and education work with a lasting legacy.

A project group was formed and fundraising began, raising over £66,000.

Who funded the project?

  • £44,000 – GWR Community Fund
  • £12,000 – Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit
  • £7,500 – British Airways Better World Fund
  • £500 local community donations
  • Plus the time and energy of many partners and members of the community

Who has supported this project?

The partnership is led through Reading’s Community Safety Partnership, supported by the Thames Valley Violence Reduction Unit.

The project group has a wide range of partners including Reading Borough Council, Starting Point and No. 5 children’s charities, the University of Reading, Berkshire Community Foundation, the Hampshire, Reading & Basingstoke Community Rail Partnership, The Oracle shopping centre and Thames Valley Police amongst others.

Having their say – how young people were involved?

Starting Point facilitated groups of young people through their ‘Young Voices’ project and alternative education sessions.

They discussed the impact of knife crime and the themes they felt strongly should influence the sculpture. They developed a professional brand for the project and the website. They worked with the artist to influence his design concepts.

‘It’s been a reality check. It gets normalised on social media but taking time out to look at it and hear people’s stories, I see it a lot more seriously now.’

Early opportunities for education

The University of Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life hosted the young people to educate them on the history of metalworking techniques, the county’s agricultural heritage and the evolution of tools.

A positive repurposing of weapons

Thames Valley Police holds thousands of recovered weapons. The group wanted to repurpose them as a positive contribution to the sculpture. Volunteers sorted suitable knives and the Hollington Forge helped strip the steel. This was then smelted and cast.

It is now the crowning finial sitting on the top of the sculpture.