diamond geezer

 Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Seaside postcard: Folkestone Triennial

While other south coast towns have resorted to building art galleries to bring the punters in, in Folkestone the town itself is the art. Every three years they throw a Triennial, commissioning a couple of dozen artists to showcase some fresh creation somewhere unexpected. Six years ago Tracey Emin cast a baby's bootees in bronze, and three years back Martin Creed composed a soundscape for the cliff lift. 2014's Triennial kicked off at the end of August and has only a fortnight left to run, so I thought I'd better get down sharpish before the season ends. Mondays aren't especially busy days, but the Hosts were out in force at each of the exhibits (daily, 10am-5pm), so I got plenty of them almost to myself. Grab a free map from the station and you should be able to track down the whole lot by following a long and sinuous walk around town. It's always a grand day out.


» Official website/Twitter
» 40 of my photos to flick through



The Wind Lift: Now here's an idea. Stake out some space in a residential car park at the foot of a railway viaduct. Rig a vertical track 25 metres up the side of the brickwork, and dangle an oversized windchime in the centre of the adjacent arch. And then, using wind power alone, raise a rickety platform high above the rooftops with up to six guinea-pigs aboard. The queues might be longer at the weekend, but I got straight aboard, and only slightly tentatively. The hoist paused halfway up to check that nobody had unexpected vertigo, then rose to the full height and shuddered slightly. It shuddered more when my fellow passengers decided they'd walk around a bit, but that was thankfully only brief. Conditions up top were excellent, with the coast of France clearly visible beyond the rooftops across the centre of town. The button-pressing volunteer told that us the hoist isn't quite so appealing in pouring rain, as you can imagine, so was pleased that October's been on the mild side. A most unusual experience. [photos]

Pent Houses: And why is there a viaduct across the centre of Folkestone? It's because a river once flowed through the town, the Pent River, now culverted beneath the ground... and temporarily marked by five Manhattan style water towers. [photo]

Green/Light: On some wasteground opposite a Tesco Express, Jyll Bradley has erected a forest of aluminium poles and some strips of yellow perspex. There's method to her madness, she's recreating the gasholder that used to stand here until the year she was born, and doubling this up with an allusion to Kent's hop fields, or something. Whatever, when the sun glints across the threaded circle, it's most attractive. [photos]



Amusefood: In further enticing weirdness, a unique fish and chip shop has been set up on a rooftop in the centre of town. The front looks real enough, but enter and you'll find yourself in a polytunnel growing hydroponic vegetables. Up front are two dark tubs containing hard-to-see carp, and behind that some thriving potatoes, mint and less-successful peas. That's fish, chips and mushy peas, Triennial style. Across the street is Folkestone's theatre, in whose bar Yoko Ono has written some typically Ono-esque instructions on a mirror. There's quite a lot of Yoko dotted around the town, in a dashed-off fairly effortlessly kind of way. Meanwhile just outside is a brand new greenspace, Payers Park, a sliver of steeply sloping land made permanently recreational as part of this year's festival. It's an impressive use of space, and Banksy must like it too because he's sprayed a special Triennial artwork - a woman looking at an empty plinth - on a big blank wall up top. [photos]

The Electrified Line: Folkestone Harbour station used to be the gateway to the continent, accessed via a steeply descending branch line to a viaduct across the harbour. Here Gabriel Lester has created a cube of bamboo scaffolding, a chance to step up over the tracks and look out over the harbour beneath a canopy of threaded poles. The Outer Harbour is the site of the Triennal's most expensive work, thirty gold bars buried in the sand, and accessible to potential treasure hunters only at low tide. Its not known how many have been found or how many are left, but the initial rush of golddiggers has certainly died down - there were none out yesterday. [photos]

Is Why The Place: Folkestone Harbour station saw its last scheduled train in 2001, its last train in 2009, and was officially closed for good in May this year. That makes it an excellent place for an artwork, in this case two, one the leftover Rug People from three years ago. 2014's piece is a pair of neon sculptures, one on the up platform and one on the down, spelling out COMING AND GOING IS WHY THE PLACE IS THERE AT ALL. It's apposite, but it's also marvellous to get the chance to walk along the slowly decaying platforms, once thronging with luggage, now the seagulls' haunt. And walk right up to the end and you can climb the stairs to the harbour arm, where Folkestone's anglers dangle their rods, and with another artwork painted on the lighthouse at the end. [photos]



Vigil: If you've ever visited Folkestone you'll know The Grand Burstin, the pig-ugly hotel on the harbourfront that 'resembles' an ocean liner. For the duration of the Triennial a series of volunteers are living on a portaledge hanging from the very top of the funnel - it looked like Monday was washing day. [photos]

Beach Hut in the Style of Nicholas Hawksmoor: The first 18 artworks on the Triennial train are relatively evenly spaced, but then there's an almighty gap along the seafront to number 19. I thought Pablo Bronstein's Baroque beach hut was worth the mile-long trek, but you might want to bow out earlier. If you do you'll miss the maze hidden in the grotto on the Zig Zag Path, although it's not so impressive now the volunteers don't hang the doors on every morning because it's too much hard work. [photos]

Whithervanes: By the time you've walked the entire dotted line on the triennial map, and if you've been paying attention at rooftop level, you should have seen five headless chickens. These are the whithervanes, five fear-tracking sculptures which monitor internet newsfeeds for alarmist keywords and then react appropriately. They're supposed to spin away from the source of the bad news, and also to light up in a particular colour relevant to the level of threat. They're endearing but I saw none spin, nor any light up, so I can only assume Monday was a good news day... or more likely that they're not working properly. [photos]

And that's only about half of the works. There's a cracked clay window in a High Street shop, there's a bomb site broadcasting bread recipes, there's a choral work composed from the answers to questionnaires, and there's a pentagonal sculpture inside which I sat and gobbled down a tray of fish and chips. The other trailgoers yesterday were mostly locals and groups of grey haired ladies from London, but I'm told the weekend's a lot busier. I didn't get the hang of the official smartphone app, which is a shame because it should have provided me with a lot more background information on the way round, but didn't. And you only have until Sunday November 2nd to come down and visit, else you'll have to wait until 2017 for the next burst of coastal creativity.

My Folkestone Triennial gallery
There are 40 photos altogether [slideshow]


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sun 4 December (8am-10pm)
Tower Bridge fully closed
For one day only, cross the river by free passenger ferry!

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv