The 2014 Folkestone Triennial is on for a third edition, this year with a “Lookout” theme to its many ambitious arts set within the quaint town and on its scenic stretch of coastline along the English Channel. I thoroughly enjoyed my artsy meander round Folkestone and reckon it offers an ideal day out for Londoners (or anybody) seeking a day out with intriguing sights and a fresh sea breeze.
Artists participating in the 2014 Triennial include art world darlings Yoko Ono, Andy Goldsworthy and Pablo Bronstein as well as Jyll Bradley, Strange Cargo, Diane Dever and Jonathan Wright, Tim Etchells, Ian Hamilton Finlay, John Harle and Tom Pickard, Emma Hart; Alex Hartley, Will Kwan, Gabriel Lester, Amina Menia, muf Architecture/Art, Marjetica Potrč and Ooze Architects, rootoftwo, Sarah Staton, and Something & Son.
I loved Ono’s simple and straightforward Earth Peace works (there are five throughout town – you can’t miss her billboard just outside Folkestone Central station).
I also got a real kick out of rooftotwo’s Whithervanes: a Neurotic Early Worrying System, five headless chicken sculptures which “track the orchestration of fear in real time by monitoring internet newsfeeds for alarmist keywords” and “revolving away from the geographic origin of each story.”
Jyll Bradley’s Green/Light (for M.R.) – a “reflection on energy as light and as green memories” installed in a disused gasworks site was a delight to encounter walking through town.
Just down the street from Bradley’s Green/Light, Marjetica Potrc and Ooze’s The Wind Lift was as uplifting in spirit as it was in practice. The 25m high passenger lift powered entirely by a wind turbine set alongside the city’s spectacular Victorian era viaduct (the biggest brick viaduct in the world) provided a fun and novel way to contemplate renewable energy sources while taking in some marvelous views.
Of course, if you’ve heard anything about the Triennials, odds are it was probably some of the hubbub about the Folkestone gold. Indeed, the big draw for locals and the media alike since the opening of the triennial last Thursday has been Folkestone Digs. Commissioned by art producers Situations, Berlin-based artist Michael Sailstorfer secretly buried £10,000 worth of gold bouillon as 30 individual pieces across a popular beach near the Folkestone city centre. I was there soon after the artist’s stunt was announced. It was fun to see so many people – and such a variety of them too – all digging away at the beach in hopes of striking it (at least moderately) rich.
As far as I can tell from a quick scroll of the #folkestonegold feed on Twitter as well as this BBC article, some – but only a tiny amount – of Sailstorfer’s gold has been found thusfar. So, as if you needed more reason than an opportunity to see great art in a lovely setting there’s still some glimmering incentive for you to get down to Folkestone.
Folkestone is located about 70 miles from Central London on the southeastern coast of Kent. High speed trains run regularly to/from London St Pancras International with a journey time that’s just under an hour. Triennial activities run until the 2nd of November. Whenever you go – even outside the dates of the Triennial – is a good time to view great art with the free permanent public art collection, the Folkestone Artworks, featuring 16 “outstanding works originally commissioned by the Creative Foundation for the Folkestone Triennial that are now on permanent display in easily accessible public spaces around the town. Folkestone Artworks includes pieces by Tracey Emin, Richard Wilson and Cornelia Parker.