Triennial tripping

Folkestone Triennial is the largest open-air display of public art in the UK. Every three years it brings together a diverse mix of international and local artists to make new site specific works. This year I went on a walking tour guided by Naomi Eaton-Baudains a producer working behind the scenes at the Triennial and also an artist in her own right.

Her tour was fascinating giving an insight into how Lewis Biggs, the curator works with the artists to develop pieces that respond to each location, considers the broader dialogue between pieces dotted throughout the town.

Here are some of the works I loved.

001 Shimmera – Jacqueline Poncelet

Beautiful shimmering discs, fluttering in the breeze. Perhaps a simple decoration, but also in some powerful way connecting the solid artists’ cabins to the wind and air and space outside – the atmosphere we live in.

002 Mellowing the Corners – Mariko Hori

A quiet piece by Mariko Hori, a Japanese artist. A rock-like bench, in a natural pausing point at the top of a cliff path. The ‘rock’ contains items donated by local residents, and overtime the surface will be eroded and the items, revealed. Hori is interested in the Japanese concept of ‘Ma’, an idea of negative space that spans both space and time, giving ‘a space in between’  or  ‘a pause in time’.

003 Janus Fortress: Folkestone – Pilar Quinteros

A poignant Janus, the Roman god looks out towards Europe and back towards Folkestone and Britain. In Roman mythology he is the god of transition and doorways, connecting one realm to another. Chilean artist Quinteros has chosen to work in chalk, echoing the nearby cliffs and evoking Britain’s polemical border-line. Over time the work will disintegrate and erode and Quinteros has described it as a ‘monument to uncertainty’. She has encouraged the local community to interact with the work, hastening the destruction of the figure and revealing a dark skull within.

004 Forgiving Light – Christopher Houghton Budd

At a busy junction in central Folkestone, local artist Christopher Houghton Budd marks out a perfect circle with light-posts. He highlights where roads, people and waterways all cross, the point geographically recognised as the centre of the town of Folkestone and questions whether the space could be made more pedestrian-friendly.

005 Gateways of the Sea – Atta Kwami

Atta Kwami is a Ghanaian painter who works with colours and patterns often inspired by African strip-woven textiles, especially those (kente) made famous by his culture, the Ewe and Asante of Ghana. Here his arch is a bright, energising imposition, a greeting at the port edge.

006 The Ledge – Bill Woodrow

Bill Woodrow’s Inuit figure and seal, looking out to sea and elevated above a pool of oil, speak of the ecological challenges we face. He connects our future and wellbeing, to those being experienced elsewhere. He suggests we are both part of the problem, but also can be part of the solution.

007 No. 1054 Arpeggio – Rana Begum

A joyous, visually arresting spectrum of colour plays out across the beach huts running along the seafront. You can feel the chords of colour and playful arpeggios animating the humble beach huts.