Travel In Pictures: Folkestone Triennial Contemporary Art Festival 2017

The fourth Folkestone Triennial contemporary art festival 2017, called double edge, ran until 5 November 2017.  Two weeks ago I downloaded a copy of the Triennial map and spent a happy day exploring this arty, bohemian, regenerating British seaside town while searching for the contemporary art installed all around it. Here’s pictures of some of the installations to whet your appetite in case you fancy doing the same, or in case you can’t get there in person.

Folkestone Triennial is the flagship project of the Creative Foundation, which describes itself as an independent visionary arts charity dedicated to enabling the regeneration of the town. As a bonus to exploring the 2017 Triennial artworks, Folkestone’s streets and other outdoor areas are already host to permanent pieces by artists such as Tracey Emin and Yoko Ono, some of which were produced for triennials in previous years.

1. Folkestone is an Art School by Bob and Roberta Smith

The galleries, art shops and workshops in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter are testament to the town’s ambition to shift its economy from seasonal tourism to the creative industries.

The Folkestone is an Art School artwork across the town is arranged around the premise that Folkestone already has everything needed for an art school – studios, talent, classes – but the resources need to be arranged differently. It includes the ‘declaration’ Folkestone is an Art School displayed all over Folkestone – including on the side of the martello tower that overlooks the town from a cliff to the east; a directory of art teaching facilities and talents; and a teaching exhibition and programme.

Folkestone is An Art School banner on The Old High Street
Folkestone is an Art School on the martello tower at the Warren, leading up to the cliffs overlooking the town
Folkestone is an Art School, at The Wedge, Tontine Street
Folkestone is an Art School Resources Centre
Folkestone Lightbulb by Michael Craig-Martin and Folkestone is an Art School banner, at The Old High Street

2. Folkestone Lightbulb by Michael Craig-Martin

The idea of this image of a lightbulb at the gateway to Folkestone’s Creative Quarter – at the junction of The Old High Street and Tontine Street – is intended to evoke thoughts of the ideas and inspiration that continue to be needed for regeneration of the town.

3. Holiday Homes by Richard Woods

Richard Woods’ installation involves six small ‘homes’ – identical except for colour –  dotted around the town in unlikely places. They’re intended as socio-political commentary, drawing attention to the UK housing crisis with badly built houses not being big enough for families to live in etc., and to the idea that no site is too unlikely, tiny, or inconvenient for its neighbours, for a second home by the sea.

So, for instance, one of the houses is perched on a grass verge on the sweep of a busy road; another is on the beach; another on the edge of the car park on the harbour arm; and another sits in the mud of the harbour itself.

One of Richard Woods’ Holiday Homes by the car park at the harbour arm, with Folkestone is an Art School on the martello tower in the distance
Two of Richard Woods’ Holiday Homes viewed from Rocksalt Restaurant
Holiday Home by Richard Woods on a grass verge on the sweep of a busy road in Folkestone


Holiday Home by Richard Woods at the Leas coastline linear park
A Richard Woods’ Holiday Home, with white cliffs in the distance
Richard Woods’ Holiday Home floating in Folkestone Harbour in front of Rocksalt Restaurant

4. Another Time XVIII 2013 (Loading Bay) & Another Time XXI 2013 (Coronation Parade) by Antony Gormley

You may be familiar with the series of 100 solid cast-iron life-sized sculptures of Antony Gormley. I first encountered them during his London exhibition Event Horizon a few years ago, when they were installed in unusual places across London – such as the roofs of historic landmarks, and on the banks of the River Thames.

Two appear in Folkestone for the Triennial. This one – in the loading bay on the harbour arm – can only be seen when the tide is out.

5. Individual Artists: Joff

This is Joff who was selling his art on Tontine Street during the Triennial for £10 a picture. He told me that he is self-taught and that painting helps with his depression.

Artist Joff with self portrait, selling his pictures on Tontine Street
Joff’s work for sale on Tontine Street, which was bombed heavily during World War II

6. Fleet on Foot by Jonathan Wright

This artwork is again on Tontine Street, which runs over the mouth of the Pent River – the tidal inlet where the first fishing boats were established in Folkestone. It features 3D-printed golden replicas mounted on poles to salute Folkestone’s fishing fleet, with information about each boat and tidal times.


7. Jelly Mould Pavilion by Lubaina Himid

Lubaina Himid’s Jelly Mould Pavilion is intended as a tribute to the black community and to evoke the connection between slavery and sugar, which would have been served up on this beach site – in its former guise as the site of the Rotunda amusement park – as toffee apples and candy floss.

Jellymould Pavillion, Folkestone Triennial 2017
Jellymould Pavillion, Folkestone seafront

8. Customs House: Urban Room Folkestone by Diane Dever and The Decorators

The Urban Room, set up in the historic Harbour Station Customs House, is dedicated to Folkestone’s history, and to encouraging active consideration of its future as it continues to regenerate and evolve. This building marked the frontier for soldiers travelling to mainland Europe in World War II.

Urban Room Folkestone, at the start of the harbour arm
Fanfare for a Common Plan by Andy Tuohy, on display in the Urban Room, Folkestone depicts an imaginary Folkestone town rally, comments on the town’s current development, and encourages debate about where it goes from here

9. 1947 by Sinta Tantra

Balinese-British artist Sintra Tantra has jollied-up the rather dull Cube building, at one end of Tontine Street in Folkestone, using colours from a 1947 poster  advertising rail travel to Folkestone. Her shapes are inspired by the work of Ukrainian-born French artist Sonia Delaunay.

The Cube, Tontine Street – a very boring building now painted for Folkestone Triennial 2017 by Sinta Tantra

Visiting Folkestone: Basic Information

Where is Folkestone?:  the seaside town of Folkestone is on the south coast of England, UK, in the county of Kent. It directly faces France about 20 miles away, and its coastline can be seen from Folkestone on a clear day.

Getting there: Folkestone is easily and quickly accessible from central London by high speed train which takes 53 minutes from London St Pancras Railway Station. The train also calls at Ashford International, for interchange with Eurostar trains coming from Europe. The main motorway into Folkestone is the M20, and there is a very central car park by the harbour arm that at the time of writing charges £7 for 24 hours and always seems to have spaces available, even on busy summer weekends.

Getting around: many of the artworks at Folkestone Triennial are best explored and discovered on foot using the official map. Folkestone is well served by public buses for artworks that are a little out of town  

Mark Dion’s Mobile Gull Appreciation Unit – originally designed for a previous Triennial to give out information to combat the negative attitudes about the throngs of large seagulls that are all over Folkestone – is being used as a town centre information point for Folkestone Triennial 2017. Here you can pick up a paper copy of the Triennial map, plus other information.

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