Oak trench cross created for the World War 1 Trail in Bury St Edmunds

Marie Roby and her trench art cross.

Marie Roby and her trench art cross. - Credit: Archant

An iconic and thought-provoking piece of artwork has been created for the World War 1 Trail in Bury St Edmunds.

Every Heart Matters logo

Every Heart Matters logo - Credit: Archant

A 5ft high, oak trench cross, made from a 70-year-old recycled farm gate post, has been made by Marie Roby, which features tiny trench art pieces dotted round the display, from rifles and pennies to soldiers and boots.

It’s another piece for the trail being organised by the My WiSH Charity and Our Bury St Edmunds, the business improvement district (BID) in the town, which is aiming to raise £500,000 for the Every Heart Matters appeal to help create a fully integrated cardiac centre at the West Suffolk Hospital.

The cross is set to be displayed in the Rose Garden of the Abbey Gardens and Marie, who created the imaginative piece from her workshop in Sapiston, said the inspiration for the burnt “Shou Sugi Ban” Japanese-style display was to help create a memorial to all those who lost their lives in the 1914-18 War.

The blackened and charred piece of timber is dotted with items she created from Mexican folk art and similar to those made by the soldiers in the trenches which they would have made from discarded materials they uncovered from wood to cloth and metal to bullets.

It features rifles, flags, pennies, boots, a Zeppelin, a heart, soldiers, a dog tag, an aeroplane, boots, a skull, a dove of peace and limbs and Marie says it depicts the pointlessness of the conflict.

“I wanted it as a memorial to all the soldiers and it is a grave marker as well,” she said.

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“I am fascinated by trench art made by the soldiers from the waste of industrialised war and I was also fascinated by the creativity of them during the war and how they made these tiny but poignant objects.

“I carried out a lot of research and discovered how Mexican Milagros crosses use folk art symbols for protection and good luck, just like the ones made in the trenches.

“I didn’t want to show the horrors of the war, it’s all about the human form of the conflict.”

Milagros are religious folk charms that are traditionally used for healing purposes and offerings in Mexico. They are frequently attached to altars, shrines and sacred objects found in places of worship.

And Marie has a direct connection to the war as her great uncle Sgt James Rose, a member of the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards, lost his life at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He was 31-years-old.

The trail will feature 18 pieces, commissioned by local artists and sculptors, dotted in prime town centre sites and will be on show from July 21, through to Armistice Day, on November 11. At the culmination of the trail an auction will take place to sell off all of the pieces to go to the My WiSH Charity’s Every Heart Matters appeal.

The West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is investing £5.2m in developing a state of the art cardiac suite that will provide quicker access to more treatments, but the £500,000 My WiSH Charity is hoping to raise will lead to the whole unit, which is currently fragmented on different floors, being brought together in one purpose-built centre.

Treatt, the leading beverage ingredient solutions manufacturer based in Bury St Edmunds, will be the main sponsor for the trail, and Daemmon Reeve, group CEO, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to support this ambitious and exciting project which remembers the bravery of those who fought in World War One and is also helping to raise the £500,000 needed to fund the brand new cardiac centre at the hospital.”

If you want to support the Every Heart Matters appeal go to the websitewww.mywishcharity.co.uk and if you would like to donate to the appeal you can do so by going to Justgiving.com/ehma or text EHMA17 £10 to 70070.

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