Apr 13 2012 by Lisa Boyle, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
AN ARTIST’S touching tribute to troops killed in Afghanistan has popped up in Ayrshire.
Drivers on the Howford Bridge on the A76 just outside Mauchline have been puzzled by the hundreds of crosses which suddenly appeared.
Each one bears the name of a hero who has fallen in Afghanistan.
The unofficial shrine was created by Auchinleck artist Brian Carey.
He has named it 407 man/woman down, but that title will change as the death toll rises.
Former HGV driver Brian, 51, told the Post: “I’ve been working on it for about eight months. The idea came to me when I was walking around the grounds of Dumfries House. Seedlings had been planted there and it just reminded me of a mass grave.
“It started off really as a guerrilla piece. I was refused permission to place the crosses in the grounds of Dumfries House for armed forces day last year, but I went ahead anyway. I removed it the next day.”
Since then, the tribute has been displayed outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Kelvingrove Park and the steps of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
Each cross is made from bio-degradable plastic used by the Forestry Commission to wrap trees.
Dad-of-two Brian explained: “It’s important to me that it is environmentally friendly.
“I find hundreds of pieces of the plastic in the woods near me when they have either been ripped off or have fallen off.”
Brian sent photos of his tribute to various people all over the UK, including Lorraine Kelly who sent a note back thanking Brian and telling him she found it ‘very powerful’.
Even Sir Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate gallery in London, wrote back to Brian to tell him he had passed it on to the curatorial team to make them aware of his work.
But Brian is relishing other people’s approval.
He explained: “The feedback I’ve been getting from the public has been 99 per cent positive.
“When I was in Glasgow a young soldier who was due to go back to Afghanistan came up to me and shook my hand and said he appreciated it.
“His mum was with him and she liked it too.
“I’ve been contacted by soldiers and their mothers from all over.”
And most recently, the father and brother of Lance Corporal Tommy Brown, who was killed when an IED exploded in 2009, have contacted Brian through Facebook to show their appreciation.
Brian added: “That’s what means the most to me, that the families of the fallen are happy with it.”