The Folkestone Triennial, one of the largest exhibition of public art projects in the UK opened this weekend and is running until 2nd November. Located by the sea in the south-east of England, artists are invited to quite literally use the town as their canvas – there really is nothing else quite like it. Famous for historical installations from Tracy Emin and her ‘Baby Clothes’ as well as Cornelia Parker’s recreation of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid titled ‘The Folkstone Mermaid’ the Triennial attracts thousands to the small town each year for art, installations, music and artists making end-of-the-pier gags over a multitude of disciplines. This year see’s the likes of world renowned artists Michael Sailstorfer, Andy Goldsworthy (one of my ultimate favourites) and Yoko Ono.
In 2009 Berlin based artist Michael Sailstorfer was invited to create an outdoor sculpture just outside of Cologne. However, he converted the budget for this work into gold bars and coins, burying them all in a grassy patch of wasteland. For this years Folkestone Triennial he has recreated this work of art and has buried 30 pieces of gold (worth a staggering £10,000) on Folkestone beach. When the tide lowers to reveal the outer harbour visitors are welcome to dig for it! A nice idea on paper but I have a feeling the British visitors won’t be as polite as the German’s in 2009. Trouble may be brewing. Curator of the event Lewis Biggs says:
I think we might well have a lot of people. It is a participatory artwork. It is about people coming to the beach and digging and possibly finding hidden treasure. Some people will get lucky, some people will not get lucky – and that’s life.
The Folkestone beach setting evokes the history of the seaside town as well as capturing the imagination and playing on various fantasies of pirates, shipwrecks and lost treasure. It is after all, every child’s dream to discover a chest of lost jewels on an exciting quest. Will the work be this nostalgic once the beach has been overturned is another question – It will certainly be interesting how this artwork unfolds. To follow the goldrush use the hashtag #FolkestoneGold on Twitter – the beach is getting busier even as I type this!
Perhaps contradicting the goldrush fever provoked by Sailstorfer’s art Yoko Ono has created two text pieces. One titled ‘Earth Peace’, the other ‘Skyladder 2014’. ‘Earth Peace’ appears as a poster in shops, homes and even on stickers, postcards and billboards. The conceptual work is even beamed out over the horizon as a morse code message. From the beginning of her career Yoko Ono has always been a conceptualist who uses the ladder so symbolise climbing into the sky, in ‘Skyladder 2014’ she instructs the people of Folkstone to…
…bring a ladder they like. Colour it. Word it. Take a picture of it. Keep adding things to it. And send it as a postcard to a friend.
Both of these works use Folkestone and their people at their core however, Andy Goldsworthy quite literally uses the land they stand on in his piece titled ‘Clay Window & Clay Steps’. Internationally known for his temporary outdoor sculptures and being a pioneer of the Land Art movement alongside Richard Long, Goldsworthy has taken clay from Folkestones beaches and has created two installations in a disused shop (at 48 Old High Street). Using nature and taking inspiration from some of Folkestones buildings he says in a video about the work that the clay…
…becomes the building. And then as it cracks and reveals it’s nature as earth, the building becomes earth.
Both of his works look at the passing of time in nature and the town. Drawing attention to Folkestones seasonal economy and speaks of urban decay that can be seen all around Britain. Visitors to Folkestone Triennial 2014 will see these works amongst 18 other artist’s work and will be physically and mentally transported to think about the future from different angles. From the environment and economy to social issues until November the seaside town becomes a stage whereby we raise important questions about the world today.
Find more visiting information here and see what events you can also get involved in.