Guest Post from Ann Wallis, Director of Culture Partners.
Folkestone may not be the first place that springs to mind when public art work commissioned from UK and international artists is mentioned. However……
My recent visit to the Folkestone Triennial in the company of fellow Academicians from the Academy of Urbanism, certainly did not disappoint. This second arts triennial once again focused on reclaiming, enhancing and enlivening spaces and the public realm through a curated collection of work commissioned from an impressive roster of acclaimed UK and international artists.
No longer one of the main ferry ports for those traveling to and from the UK, Folkestone has developed a cultural approach to encourage visitors, both local and those from farther away, to spend more time in and around the town – exploring a gallery without walls.
By turn startling, and meditative, a number of audio-visual and digital installations revealing universal narratives, brought new uses, new visitors and new exclamations to forgotten or underused spaces tucked away across the town. Some literally cut into the cliff face and others occupy spaces no longer in regular public use, questioning possibilities and offering regenerative opportunities to follow on from their temporary, meanwhile habitation.
We found creative people – designers and artists, cultural commentators and artisans – who have brought a new vibrancy to the developing Creative Quarter through thoughtful conversions, active live/work spaces and contemporary buildings nestling easily alongside a seaside heritage.
Across a windswept concrete site running close to the seafront, I wondered how the sound of a solitary bell strung high above our heads might make a place. The haunting tone, once out of tune with its sisters in a church tower, now draws people to a ‘new’ local focal point, once alive to the sounds of merry-go-rounds and coconut shies.
The invisible links between the temporary and permanent art works sited within buildings and in the public spaces between, tack backwards and forwards across the town, binding the centre, the harbour and the regeneration areas together through a physical labyrinth, and through narratives and imagination. Three years on, and the Folkestone Triennial in 2014 has deep foundations to build on.
I am keen to return.
Culture Partners, is a not-for-profit organisation working to further arts and cultural development. Culture Partners is one of Globe’s approved sub-consultants and Ann has worked with the Globe team and as a specialist advisor to the company on a wide range of commissions.