Sparks have been flying at NETA Training as art and design students tried their hand at a spot of engineering.

The role reversal was the next step in a cutting edge project that will see young people transform hundreds of knives surrendered to Cleveland Police from the streets of Teesside into a sculpture to raise awareness of knife crime.

Inspired by the Knife Angel, a 27ft sculpture, made from 10,000 discarded knives and confiscated weapons from police forces across the country, art students from Stockton Riverside College are now drawing up their own designs for a smaller-scale project.

Engineering students and apprentices at Stockton-based NETA Training are helping to make those designs a reality.

Art student Brandon said: “The engineering team didn’t want us to just draw the designs, they wanted us to get a feel for the work that will go into making the sculpture.”

Workshops in cutting, bending and shaping metal, certainly impacted on the students’ perception of the job at hand.

“When you design something as an art student you see it is a picture on a piece of paper, but going to NETA and seeing how the machines work, makes you realise the work going into it, which is incredible,” said Brandon.

Stunned by the number of knives handed in to police, fellow art student, Natalie, added: “It is nice to be involved in a project that will be around for a long time and has a strong message behind it.

“We believe the sculpture itself will shock people because of how many knives there are and the thought that they have all come from this area, and those are just the ones that have been handed in.”

NETA’s Head of Department for Engineering, David Laycock, said: “It was important for the art students to understand the demands of working with metal and the skill involved from our engineering students.”

The students have certainly taking those lessons on board when it comes to creating their final designs.

Stockton Riverside College’s Course Leader for Art and Design, Liz Dixon, said: “The workshops at NETA opened our students’ eyes to the demands of working with different materials and how this has to be incorporated into their work.

“The sculpture will represent such a powerful message to all of our students and the wider community.

“Unfortunately, it seems knife crime is an all too real problem, including here in the Tees Valley. We want to play our part in helping to raise awareness and hopefully reduce the unnecessary devastation caused to so many families.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger played a lead role in bringing the Knife Angel to Cleveland last summer. He has been working since to cement the sculpture’s legacy by investing in initiatives to educate young people about the dangers of knife crime and divert them from criminal behaviour.

He said: “It’s very appropriate that Cleveland has its own knife sculpture as we have some of the highest rates of violent crime in the country. It’s a great idea to use public art to make people think about the harm and damage knife crime causes.

“NETA and Stockton Riverside college students have been doing fantastic work to make this project a reality and I hope as many people as possible will be able to stop, look and think about the issues this great piece of art will represent.”

NETA Art Visit
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