This year’s Folkestone Triennial explores the gap between myth and reality

Art escapes the gallery and takes over the coastal townscape

Folkestone’s public spaces are home to 27 new site-specific artworks exploring ‘the movement of water, blood and goods’ as part of the fifth edition of the port town’s art Triennial.

Art collective Assemble, Bob and Roberta Smith, Gilbert & George and Morag Myerscough have all contributed to the 2021 Creative Folkestone Triennial, which runs until 2 November and is curated for the third time by Lewis Biggs. This year’s programme takes urban myth and reality – and the space between the two – as its theme and is entitled The Plot.

Biggs has drawn on three pieces of local narrative and history as the curatorial starting point for the event: the ancient St Eanswythe’s watercourse, supposedly created by an Anglo-Saxon princess; Folkestone-born physician William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood; and a local industrial road nicknamed ‘The Milky Way’.

Artworks range from Myerscough’s ‘welcome pavilion’, located at a former gasworks site, through to Rana Begum’s colourful beach huts and Assemble’s sculptural interventions for Folkestone’s new Olympic standard skate park. Winter/Hörbelt has designed a ‘tree fountain’ that commemorates the saintly waterway, and Pilar Quinteros has installed a vast, two-faced sculpture head that inhabits a clifftop.

Genuinefake, Fortune Here. Photography: Thierry Bal

Explains Biggs: ‘The artists selected all have in common the talent and ambition to meet the audience directly in “real life” without the mediation of an art gallery. I choose artists according to their ability to address very specific urban contexts.’

Among those contexts is the waterfront’s Harbour Arm, where artist Atta Kwami has installed a sculptural arch designed to catch the wind. He also creates a second installation of kiosks – sites for the circulation of money, goods, information, news and gossip.

Atta Kwami Dusiadu (EveryTown). Photography: Thierry Bal

‘It does seem that the pandemic has helped everyone appreciate how much their own locality is important for their own physical and mental well-being,’ says Biggs. ‘We need green spaces, we need corner shops, we need neighbours! Creative Folkestone is a place-making arts charity, so the intention of the Triennial is to enhance and enrich people’s appreciation of Folkestone as a place to live and work. Art outdoors is not just a highly practical response to the pandemic, it’s also a response to the values that have been illuminated by the pandemic.’

‘2021: The Plot’ Creative Folkestone Triennial runs until 2 November 2021 

Gilbert & George, Respect Road 2020. Photography: Thierry Bal
Morag Myerscough, Flock of Seagulls Bag of Stolen Chips. Photography: Thierry Bal
Jacqueline Donachie, Beautiful Sunday. Photography: Thierry Bal
Jyll Bradley, Green/Light (for M.R).Photography: Thierry Bal
HoyCheong Wong, Simon Davenport and Shahed Saleem, NŪR. Photography: Thierry Bal

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