Contemporary art ‘treasure hunt’ returns to Folkestone

Following its opening to the public on Saturday (2 September), contemporary art festival Folkestone Triennial is back again in the seaside Kent town.

Now in its fourth year, the Triennial began in 2008 with the assistance of the Creative Foundation charity, the brainchild of Folkestone local Sir Roger De Haan.

The 2017 Triennial is entitled ‘Double Edge’. The art festival has garnered high praise for contributing to a cultural renaissance in Kent’s coastal towns, which has included the opening of Turner Contemporary in Margate.

Nineteen site-specific contemporary art installations have been commissioned for this year’s Triennial and appear around Folkstone in what one review calls ‘an elaborate treasure hunt’. Some works are temporary while others will remain after the festival ends.

Two iron sculptures of human figure on loan from Antony Gormley called ‘Another Time XXI’ stare out to sea and are lapped by the tides.

Bob and Roberta Smith, a British contemporary artist, activist, art education advocate, writer and musician known for his “slogan” art that uses text as an art form, has produced a four part artwork using the ‘declaration’ FOLKESTONE IS AN ART SCHOOL. It comprises a series of twelve short pedagogical videos; a ‘directory’ of art teaching facilities and talents; and a teaching programme (and exhibition) delivered by a ‘faculty’ of locally based artists and teachers, to a ‘cohort’ of students selected for tuition by their secondary schools. This artwork is not an art school: it points at the art school.

A colourful, cartoon-like ‘Holiday Home’ sequence by Richard Woods riffs upon the proliferation of second homes, which have sprung up on the British seaside. The installation offers a commentary on the state of the housing market and the crisis, which has left many people with two homes and others without even one.

Wong Hoy Cheong has dressed the town’s Islamic Cultural Centre in ‘Minaret’, a glowing temporary façade of green minarets illuminated at night. David Shrigley has offered up ‘Lamp Post’ based on descriptions of the lampposts along The Leas in Folkestone relayed by a friend from memory after just 40 seconds of observing them.

The Triennial trail also encourages visitors to discover the town’s quieter residential streets where Amalia Pica’s ‘Souvenir’ shell sculptures reminiscent of seaside souvenirs can be found in the windows of pubs, shops and homes.

The Creative Foundation made headlines in 2015 when it brought a legal action to recover Banksy’s ’Art Buff’ . The mural appeared on the back of a Folkestone amusement arcade during the 2014 Folkestone Triennial and was cut out by the building’s tenant and shipped to US for sale. Following a groundbreaking legal dispute, the Creative Foundation secured the artwork’s return to Folkestone where plans are underway for it to go on public display.

The Triennial runs until 5 November 2017 and is proudly sponsored by Boodle Hatfield.

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