Masham set to become a republic...

Masham's Professor Guillaume du Bois with the "Think Tank" which will be installed in Masham's market square for the Independent Republic of Folly (S)
Masham's Professor Guillaume du Bois with the "Think Tank" which will be installed in Masham's market square for the Independent Republic of Folly (S)

Masham’s biennial arts festival is set to start next week, and organisers have decided to open the festival by declaring the town’s independence from the rest of the UK.

In a bid to counteract what organisers describe as “the doom and gloom of the credit crunch and sheer boredom of the party political conferences” Masham’s market place is to become an “Independent Republic of Folly.”

The Independent Republic will be in place for a trial period from Friday, October 21 to Sunday, October 30, the whole of the arts festival’s run, and the festival committee hopes to see the impact of “sheer silliness” on residents and visitors.

Behind the plans is Sleningford man Keith Mott, also known as Professor Guillaume du Bois.

He said: “We want the Independent Republic of Folly to encourage people to think, and to think that their ideas are as valid as anyone else’s.”

The ‘Independent Republic’ will fill a patch of the market place between Border House Teas and the market cross with eye-catching wooden and metal sculptures, including a Dream Launcher to help people make sense of their unconscious dreams, a Dogma Kennel for jaded ideas that need a rest, and an Ideas Reserve to protect delicate ideas, Prof du Bois said.

“We will be taking over the Market Place in Masham to demonstrate some of our ideas and the ways we believe we can improve society.

“I’ll be bringing some of my most practical inventions. We think Masham’s Think Tank will be a considerable improvement on those initiated by the government and Masham visitors are likely to be impressed by the Ideas’ Reserve, the Thinking Cap and the Dream Launcher.”

A “sonic experience” called the Yuri Gagain Memorial Humisphere will also be making an appearance in the market square, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of man’s first space journey.

This year’s arts festival programme includes a talk by Mrs Doubtfire author Anne Fine, performances by Harrogate band the Birdman Rallies and home grownMasham musicians, art exhibitions, an Arting about Masham trail, events at Hackfall woods, rural craft, dance and music workshops, animated films and a Crafternoon Tea.

The festival has also been providing 6cm square blocks of wood for artists to decorate on the theme of home. The blocks can be used as templates, etched on, carved, knitted round or fashioned into houses whatever the artist wants to do.

The finished articles will all be on sale for £25 each and the profits given to the charity Shelter.

Anyone buying a piece will only find out who created it after their purchase.

The exhibition of finished pieces will be photographed and documented on Masham Arts Festival website.

The finished articles will be placed in a variety of locations in St. Mary’s Church Masham alongside the main Arts Festival visual arts exhibition, and available to buy from the opening night.

For more details or to get a block contact Josie Beszant on 01765 689554 or email, 24 Market Place, Masham, N. Yorkshire. HG4 4EB

Information and tickets for the festival are available from the Masham Community Office on 01765 680220 or by logging onto