Independent State was a major participatory visual art project that celebrated Frome’s reputation for independence. Foreground commissioned leading British artists Edwina Ashton, Bob and Roberta Smith and Matt Stokes to work with groups from Frome’s community from July to September in 2009 to make significant new artworks, which formed entries into the annual Frome Carnival on 26 September 2009.
Independent State explored how we define social distinctiveness and achieve self-determination as individuals and communities. The new works took a number of different forms, from eccentric historical celebrations to major collaborative performances that culminated as floats, performances and demonstrations in the Carnival.
Carnival is one of the most distinctive features of Somerset’s cultural identity and generates huge popular audiences to witness its grass roots creativity that range from the spectacular to the eccentrically amateur. As the first carnival in the Somerset Carnival season, Frome Carnival is one of the smallest yet generates an audience of over 20,000 people in a single night. Made over months of intense preparation and culminating in the single evening of Frome’s carnival parade, Independent State explored the collaborative creation of contemporary art for a popular mass audience beyond the gallery.
Independent State was made possible through funding from The Arts Council England and Somerset County Council’s Local Initiative Budget, Market Towns Regeneration Fund and County Arts Fund. The project also received further support from The Ernest Cook Trust, Frome Community Lottery, Mendip District Council, and The University of the West of England.