“Folkestone triennial review – beached bungalows and giant jelly mould pavilions,” By Skye Sherwin

Richard Woods’ Holiday Home … inspired by a leaflet inviting Folkestone locals to sell up and make way for the wealthy. Photograph: Thierry Bal


“Folkestone triennial review – beached bungalows and giant jelly mould pavilions”

                 ‘Antony Gormley sculptures lurk under the promenade, Richard Woods invades town with huts for second-homers, while Bob and Roberta Smith treats local kids to art lessons. An eye-catching battle is raging at the Kent seaside between rich and poor, social decay and civic pride’

By Skye Sherwin


There’s an intruder among the varnished crustaceans and cat-themed tea-towels in The Shell Shop on Folkestone’s seafront. Admittedly it’s hard to spot, a small sculpture crafted from shiny shells, their smooth ovals suggesting the work of that great seaside modernist Barbara Hepworth. It’s one of a series by the artist Amalia Pica that have been secreted about the coastal town – in businesses and homes, above archways and beneath telegraph wires – offering visitors to its fourth art triennial a kind of late-summer Easter egg hunt.

It is exactly the sort of thing I’ve come to expect from the Folkestone triennial: an artwork that sees this faded bucket-and-spade resort of shingle sweeps and crumbling cliff-top hotels with fresh eyes, chewing over its present-day economic status and the role of cutting-edge culture within all that. Pica delicately plays on issues around public sculpture and urban redevelopment: the kitsch seaside souvenir joints that are part of the Kentish coast’s lure for the “down from London” crowd, as well as art’s role in its (spotty and not unproblematic) gentrification.

This is the awkward, interesting position the triennial readily locates itself in. The funder is local Saga ex-boss Roger De Haan, whose vision for restoring Folkestone includes culture, upmarket eateries and architect-designed beachfront property. While De Haan has drawn criticism for a harbour development whose target market clearly isn’t those living next door in the town’s deprived East End, the triennial is there to make everyone feel positive.

Loitering … Antony Gormley, Another Time XXI 2013 (Loading Bay). Photograph: Thierry Bal

This year, for instance, the town gets three of Anthony Gormley’s iron men, which have cropped up in odd places the world over. They loiter in the mossed concrete catacombs beneath the town’s promenades, which fill with seawater at high tide. Gormley is one of Britain’s best known living artists thanks to his Angel of the North, and his work has become an easy lightning rod for civic pride.

That seems a necessary, laudable impulse in a town where unemployment, empty shops, Ukip and the social tensions of the migrant crisis have taken their toll. At the same time, with Folkestone emerging as a petri dish of Split Britain’s problems, there’s a lot more to talk about.

Richard Woods’ wacky bungalows, perched in peculiar plots from a cliff edge to a traffic island, strike squarely at the area’s contradictions. Inspired by a leaflet inviting locals to sell up and make way for the holiday-home market, these loud, bright interlopers are deliberately out of place and suggest, in their own, cartoonish way, not just wealthy second homers but wider anxieties about newcomers. Calais’s refugee camp, after all, was straight across the Channel.

Appropriately for a town caught between rich and poor, on the edge of Britain and Europe, curator Lewis Biggs’s 2017 edition of the triennial, entitled Double Edge, claims to tackle “liminal spaces”. Yet often the show itself seems to hover uneasily in an in-between zone.

Liminal space … one of Bob and Roberta Smith’s signs on the harbour wall. Photograph: Thierry Bal

There are lots of sunny, graphic murals slapped across buildings that aim to lift spirits: a Michael Craig-Martin energy-saving bulb in his signature flat, bold colours; Gary Woodley’s sharp monochrome tetrahedra beneath the Coronation Parade; Sinta Tantra’s striped coat of paint for the adult education centre, inspired by a 1947 Folkestone holiday poster, and Sonia Delaunay’s abstract fashion designs. Looking at these works, though, it’s hard not to think of the kind of quirky building wraps encasing new property developments. Cheery and head-turning, yes, but when art is reduced to seaside eye candy it demands little more than a surface glance.

At the other end of the scale are social projects bent on tackling local issues first hand. “Folkestone Is an Art School,” declare a series of banners all across town in Bob and Roberta Smith’s trademark wonky, end-of-pier lettering. A man of his word, he has organised classes for young people taught by the town’s resident artists. Folkestone, Smith implies, already has the creative riches it needs. Meanwhile, in the harbour railway – a dramatic ruin when the first triennialopened, now the site of busy redevelopment – Diane Dever has turned the old customs’ house into an urban studies library and venue for talks about Folkestone’s future. It’s what you wish local councils had the resources and inclination for, and while the intentions are impossible to knock, these schemes rarely have the strangeness or risk-taking that makes art tingle.

Bittersweet … Jelly Mould Pavilion by Lubaina Himid. Photograph: Thierry Bal

Folkestone’s dramatic landscape and mottled past make it a one-off, and the triennial will always be hardwired to its setting. Yet it’s difficult not to yearn for the odd moment when the show might go off-message with work that puts art before local context, confident that the audience will be game enough to follow.

That’s not to say this year doesn’t have its share of unexpected delights, such as in the 18th-century Baptist graveyard where composer Emily Peasgood’s song recordings commemorate its dead. Or Turner prize nominee Lubaina Himid’s pavilion on the shingle in the shape of a vintage jelly mould. With its milkshake pink and white diamond decor a lightly worn reference to sugar and the slave trade, its pleasures are bittersweet.


By Sky Sherwin, Reprint from The Guardian, 1 September 2017, © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

57 Comments

Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published.

Would certainly you be interested in exchanging links?

Can I simply state what a relief to locate someone that really understands what theyre talking about online. You definitely recognize just how to bring a concern to light and also make it crucial. Even more individuals need to read this and recognize this side of the story. I cant think youre not more preferred since you certainly have the gift.

You made some good factors there. I viewed the internet for the concern and located most individuals will certainly accompany with your site.

Youre so cool! I do not expect Ive read anything like this before. So good to locate somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for beginning this up. this site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with a little creativity. valuable job for bringing something new to the web!

Excellent blog here! Also your website loads up very
fast! What host are you using? Can I get your
affiliate link to your host? I wish my website loaded
up as fast as yours lol

Hello! This post could not be written any better!
Reading through this post reminds me of my old
room mate! He always kept chatting about this.
I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he
will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

This page really has all the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who
to ask.

When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Many thanks!

I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Superb work!

Today, while I was at work, my cousin stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 30 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!

An outstanding share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little evaluation on this. And he actually got me morning meal due to the fact that I found it for him. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! However yeah Thnkx for investing the time to discuss this, I feel highly concerning it as well as love finding out more on this subject. Preferably, as you come to be competence, would certainly you mind upgrading your blog with even more information? It is very practical for me. Large thumb up for this article!

Hello there! I just wish to provide a significant thumbs up for the fantastic information you have here on this blog post. I will be coming back to your blog for even more soon.

This post is invaluable. How can I find out more?

Aw, this was a really great article. In idea I wish to place in composing like this additionally? requiring time as well as actual effort to make a very good article? but what can I say? I postpone alot as well as by no means seem to get something done.

Can I simply claim what an alleviation to find somebody who in fact understands what theyre discussing on the internet. You absolutely know exactly how to bring a concern to light and also make it crucial. Even more individuals need to read this and comprehend this side of the story. I angle believe youre not a lot more prominent because you certainly have the present.

When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new
comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment
is added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment.
Is there an easy method you are able to remove me from that
service? Thanks!

Howdy! I just wish to give you a big thumbs up for your great info you have got here on this post. I will be coming back to your website for more soon.

Good message. I learn something extra tough on various blog sites everyday. It will always be promoting to review content from other writers as well as practice a little something from their store. I?d choose to utilize some with the content on my blog whether you don?t mind. Natually I?ll offer you a link on your web blog site. Many thanks for sharing.

Someone necessarily assist to make seriously posts I’d state.
This is the first time I frequented your website page and so far?
I surprised with the research you made to make this actual publish amazing.
Fantastic task!

There are absolutely a lot of information like that to take into account. That is a great indicate bring up. I provide the thoughts above as general motivation yet clearly there are inquiries like the one you raise where the most crucial point will be working in straightforward good faith. I don?t know if finest methods have arised around things like that, but I make sure that your job is plainly identified as an up for grabs. Both kids and also ladies feel the effect of simply a moment?s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

Hello to every one, the contents existing at this web site are truly amazing for people experience, well, keep up the good work fellows.

I was very delighted to discover this web-site. I wanted to thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I certainly delighting in every bit of it and also I have you bookmarked to look into brand-new things you article.

I?m impressed, I must claim. Actually seldom do I run into a blog site that?s both educative and also amusing, and also let me tell you, you have actually hit the nail on the head. Your idea is exceptional; the concern is something that insufficient people are talking intelligently around. I am very pleased that I came across this in my look for something connecting to this.

Hi there, of course this piece of writing is genuinely fastidious
and I have learned lot of things from it about
blogging. thanks.

Can I just state what an alleviation to find somebody that really knows what theyre speaking about online. You definitely know just how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this as well as understand this side of the tale. I cant believe youre not more popular because you most definitely have the present.

Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

Would certainly you be intrigued in exchanging links?

There are some fascinating points in time in this short article but I don?t know if I see every one of them facility to heart. There is some credibility however I will certainly take hold viewpoint till I look into it even more. Excellent short article, many thanks and also we want extra! Included in FeedBurner also

Spot on with this write-up, I actually think this website needs a
lot more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see
more, thanks for the info!

I?d need to talk to you here. Which is not something I usually do! I appreciate checking out a blog post that will certainly make people think. Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!

There are definitely a great deal of details like that to consider. That is a terrific point to raise. I use the ideas above as basic ideas however clearly there are concerns like the one you raise where the most essential point will certainly be working in sincere good faith. I don?t recognize if finest techniques have actually emerged around points like that, however I am sure that your job is clearly recognized as an up for grabs. Both boys and girls feel the effect of simply a moment?s enjoyment, for the remainder of their lives.

Hello, I think that I saw you visited my site so Icame to return the favor?.I am attempting to find things to improve my web site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

An outstanding share, I just given this onto a colleague that was doing a little analysis on this. And also he in fact acquired me breakfast since I located it for him. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the reward! However yeah Thnkx for spending the moment to discuss this, I really feel highly regarding it as well as enjoy finding out more on this topic. If possible, as you come to be know-how, would certainly you mind updating your blog site with more information? It is highly handy for me. Big thumb up for this post!

Would certainly you be interested in exchanging web links?

You are so cool! I do not believe I have read something like this before.
So wonderful to discover somebody with a few genuine thoughts on this subject matter.
Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This site
is something that’s needed on the web, someone
with a bit of originality!

There are some fascinating times in this post however I don?t understand if I see all of them facility to heart. There is some legitimacy however I will hold viewpoint till I check out it additionally. Good article, many thanks and we want a lot more! Added to FeedBurner too

This web site is truly a walk-through for all of the info you desired regarding this as well as didn?t understand that to ask. Look here, as well as you?ll absolutely find it.

There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

There is visibly a package to understand about this. I assume you made certain great points in features also.

Can I just claim what an alleviation to discover a person that actually recognizes what theyre speaking about on the web. You certainly understand just how to bring an issue to light as well as make it essential. Even more people require to read this and also understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more preferred because you absolutely have the present.

Hi! I simply would like to provide a big thumbs up for the wonderful details you have right here on this article. I will certainly be returning to your blog for even more quickly.

Hey are using WordPress for your site platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

A fascinating conversation deserves remark. I assume that you should create a lot more on this topic, it might not be a frowned on subject yet typically individuals are not nearly enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Thanks

If conceivable, as you clear knowledge, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is damned helpful in return me.

I just want to mention I am just new to weblog and honestly loved your web page. Likely I’m want to bookmark your blog . You actually come with terrific stories. Kudos for sharing with us your website page.

magnificent submit, very informative. I ponder why the opposite experts of this sector don’t notice this.
You should proceed your writing. I am confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

Hello, I enjoy reading through your article post.
I wanted to write a little comment to support you.

Wow, this paragraph is good, my sister is analyzing these
kinds of things, so I am going to convey her.

My coder is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using Movable-type on a variety of websites for about
a year and am concerned about switching to another platform.
I have heard excellent things about blogengine.net. Is
there a way I can transfer all my wordpress posts into it?
Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and
it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could
I want to suggest you few interesting things or tips. Perhaps
you could write next articles referring to this article.

I wish to read even more things about it!