Portrait bust of Dr Erinma Bell MBE DL

  Dr Erinma Bell MBE DL, Karen Lyons 2015  Dr Erinma Bell MBE DL, Karen Lyons 2015 (profile)


The portrait bust of Erinma Bell was sculpted by Karen Lyons in 2014 and cast in 2015. It will be shown at Manchester Cathedral between March and May, 2016. Later in the year, it will be installed in the foyer of the People’s History Museum between September and November, 2016 before moving to it’s permanent home of Manchester Town Hall in January, 2017.  With thanks to Arts Council England.

Sculptor Karen Lyons made the 1½ scale sculptural bust of Erinma from metal recycled from decommissioned guns.

Erinma Bell is founder of the charity CARISMA (Community Alliance for Renewal, Inner South Manchester Area), which she set up with Husband Ray, working for the eradication of weapons based crime. She is an advocate for the prevention of gang crime through community based activities.

This is the latest in a series of artworks and design initiatives promoting the symbolic destruction of illegal guns and weapons; converting their material into raw materials for use in the production of creative artefacts of lasting value.

The shared goal is to build awareness of those charities affecting long-term change so that more and more people can contribute to the reduction and eventual eradication of armed violence in our streets.

The Sculpture

During initial discussions between artist and sitter, they decided she would be best represented wearing one of her traditional Nigerian headdresses. For Karen, the subject was a gift for a sculptor to tackle;

‘Erinma’s striking, statuesque physique and the sculptural headdress made this a great sculptural challenge. I hope I have done her and her work justice’.

The process of recycling the guns and turning them into artefacts presents unusual logistical challenges. Strict security is required during the handling of the guns. In addition, because of the unusual and somewhat unpredictable behaviour of the metal it had to be processed in 3 different foundries.

The original model was made using clay in the studio during several live sittings with Erinma. On completion it was transported to Castle Fine Art Foundry in Wales for a mould to be made then onto an industrial foundry in Bradford where metal from pre-prepared ingots was melted and poured into the mould. The sculpture received some finishing touches through sand blasting and welding. The resulting sculpture has a rich graphite colour, which adds to the overall impact of the piece, lacquered to help maintain the colour and prevent rusting.

The project is supported by Arts Council England