Folkestone Triennial

Just back from the Southern Coast of England in a town called Folkestone which sits in the county of Kent. Every three years they have a triennial art event with international artists. Great idea and great stuff. The theme of this year’s Triennial, curated by Lewis Biggs is ‘Lookout’.

I spent most of the time in ‘Green/Light’.  It is designed like a hop garden, which was a common agricultural space in Kent for beer brewing, but it also references the gas-works that were on the sight that produced the first electricity for the town.  The work captures the light with its reflective elements and because of that, when you walk around it you become part of it. It is an immersive Cathedral-like space which, while referencing hop-gardens, becomes more like Standing Stones which you find in places like the Orkneys Islands and of course Stonehenge. It contains a circle within a square, with the outer part made of old hop-poles and the inner of modern shiny material, all held together with twine, the string used in hop fields.  I saw lots of people just standing there enjoying being in the space, smiling and relaxing. It gave me a great sense of calm; a spiritual moment. Sublime.

Folkestone Triennial 2014 opens

Jyll Bradley’s Green/Light sculpture in a disused gasworks

Other highlights for me were Krijn de Koning piece, a cave-maze structure with various views and  Amina Menia’s sound-piece on Bread, a subject dear to my heart, where she had recorded various people’s feelings/recipes/cultural meanings of bread. Folkestone is a very mixed town economically with many migrants coming in from across the Channel. There is a tribute to some along the ‘Leas’, the seafront promenade, where many Belgians arrived during the First World War to escape the invasion of their country. Another piece I loved was Alex Hartley’s. where he has put a hanging balcony arrangement out of the rooftop of a hotel on the seafront. It reminds me of protests and sit-ins and acts as a Lookout. I love the endeavour of the work; precarious and earnest, authentic and true.

So if you are in the area, check it out. It takes about 4 hours to get around the entire place, but you also see Folkestone and the sea and can just choose one piece, like Green/Light to sit in, stand in and just calm down in. I love bi/triennials where you get to see so much art in one go. With so much horror and childish nonsense as usual dominating the news, that human beings make this stuff we call art is very humbling.  Oscar Wilde says ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’. Well for me, art dignifies humans and fascism denigrates us. Most of what is happening or what is given attention to in the world is fascism, denigrating humans with childish notions of power and immortality, so lets instead be with the art.


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