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A chain of many colours – Frome mayor’s regalia collection on display

Peter Macfadyen's different mayoral chains

Peter Macfadyen’s different mayoral chains

FROME’S mayor recently held an exhibition showing photographs of all the creative chains he has worn during his time in office.

When he was elected as mayor in June last year, Peter Macfadyen’s conscience struggled with the idea that the Mayoral chain  would be made from gold of unknown origin.

Then, when visiting a school environmental group, he was presented with a new chain made from bicycle parts, bottle tops, and biro lids – he later opened their summer fete wearing it. From there the idea grew – keeping a careful eye on when the original civic regalia should be worn – Peter’s collection of chains made by charities, local business and artists slowly expanded.

Some are linked to the council – the ‘South West Green Energy Awards’ chain (the world’s first solar powered chain) was worn at an awards ceremony; the ‘Community Toilet Scheme’ was made to promote an alternative arrangement made by the town when public toilets were closed.

Others are highly artistic – Alison Harper’s made from tiny strips of sewn crisp packet, and the gothic ‘Sustrans – Missing Link’ made from weighty bike parts.  The collection is both beautiful and entertaining, and has prompted lively debate on the role of the volunteer sector in Frome.

Over the last year the collection has grown to become more than just a series of interesting pictures, they also tell another story of the need to drag local council practice into the 21st century and make both individual councillors and the entire democratic process more relevant and accessible.

They tell the story of the natural artistic talent that ordinary people have when inspired by an idea, and how humour can communicate messages.

Mayor Peter Macfadyen said, “I put myself forward as Mayor on the understanding that I would push the boat out a bit in our efforts to reduce the barriers between the council and the people.

“It’s a delicate line to tread as there are formal civic duties – such as the Remembrance Day Service – when excess informality can rightly be seen as poor taste.  But we need to help people understand this is their council, using their money, not some aloof body to be avoided at all cost.”

‘The Mayor’s Chains’ collection was put together with the help of local businesses. Photographer David Partner recorded the collection, recognising that it represents a snapshot of life in Frome.

Simon Keyte agreed to frame the photos after making a chain for Mount Art Services’ opening ceremony.  Both have worked for free, as inspired and engaged citizens of Frome, fascinated by how its story can be told and the Frome voluntary sector supported.

Having been confused by the need to spend taxpayers’ money on an official portrait when elected, Mayor Peter Macfadyen has ended up with 21 official photographs!

The Mayor’s chains will be on show again at the Silk Mill Gallery during the Mayor’s Charity Bash on Sunday 17th May, shortly before  Peter’s role as Mayor of Frome finishes on May 20th.