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

Emma Tucker, The Spaces, August 1, 2021

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.


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.


‘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 


From The Spaces' website.