Fears of work being misinterpreted cited as reason for denial of Forth Road Bridge rememberance tribute

The Forth Road Bridge
The Forth Road Bridge
Share this article
Have your say

An artist has been refused permission for a Remembrance Day tribute on the Forth Road Bridge.

Brian Carey, 52, has created shrines to British troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan on bridges in Glasgow, Fort William and Lochaber without any protest.

Artist Brian Carey

Artist Brian Carey

His art sees him place small crosses on bridges which represent fallen soldiers. Each cross carries the name of a trooper killed in conflict.

However, he has been told by Forth Planning Officials that the crosses he uses could be dangerously misinterpreted if they are placed on the span.

The step has upset the families of dead armed forces personnel who were to appear in the Forth bridge tribute.

Brian told the Evening News: “This would have been the largest of my tributes as it would have incorporated all the casualties suffered by coalition forces, not just the British.

“I’ve previously done smaller tributes on the Clyde Arc Bridge and the Howford Bridge on the A7, which have been very well received.

“I applied to use the Forth Road Bridge three or four weeks ago and was told it would have to go in front of the committee. I was shocked by the reply I ended up getting.”

In a letter to the artist, Councillor Tony Martin, convener of Forth Estuary Transport Authority, said they feared the haunting art project could spark suicides. The letter said: “While we have full sympathy with what you are trying to achieve, with regret I am unable to give permission.

“The bridge by-laws prohibit the display of any banner or message on the structure but the main reason we cannot agree to your request is that the Forth Road Bridge, like all major bridges, is known as a location for committing suicide.

“Many of the millions who use the bridge would inevitably assume that the crosses were linked to this issue and there is strong and established evidence that publicising suicides can actually put the idea into vulnerable people’s heads.

“I’m sure you can understand why it is therefore a priority for us to avoid high-lighting the issue, even 

Cllr Martin added that he hoped an alternative venue could be found for the memorial.

Brian said: “I couldn’t believe their decision. There’s no way any person reading these crosses could be misled over why they were there. It was so disappointing, especially for the families of the fallen soldiers. There was a young man from Rosyth called Thomas ‘Tam’ Mason, who was a corporal in the Black Watch and died after a road side bombing in Afghanistan in 2009. His family had come all the way through to Glasgow to see the work and now they’ve been disappointed.”

Cpl Mason’s mother Lindi Buchanan, 49, added: “I was very saddened by the decision. It was a wonderful idea and would have been a great tribute. I understand what the authorities are saying in that they can’t make exceptions, but I don’t see how crosses on a bridge would actually induce someone to commit suicide.”

Brian, of Auchinleck, Ayrshire, is now looking for an alternative site.