The Folkestone Triennial is here again and at the launch last week it was confirmed that Yoko Ono, one of the exhibiting artists, will be visiting the town in a few weeks’ time, and that she is particularly keen to see the Step Short memorial arch on The Leas, which was opened by Prince Harry on 4th August. That statement alone underlines what a memorable summer we have so far seen.
The twenty one works in this third Triennial art exhibition, make it possibly the most stimulating and exciting yet; and not least for the thousands of people who have taken to the Sunny Sands beach with shovels in hand looking for the £10,000 worth of gold buried there by the German artist Michael Sailstorfer. The ‘Wind Lift’ attached to the viaduct at Bradstone Road provides a spectacular view, where you can clearly see the shape of the old town of Folkestone which first emerged where the Pent river ran out to the sea. Local artists, Diane Dever and Jonathan Wright, have also created a series of sculptures, called the ‘Pent Houses’ similar in style to the water towers seen on rooftops in New York, following the route of the river Pent, which still runs beneath the town. The Folkestone born artist Jyll Bradley, has also created a wonderful installation at the site of the former gasworks on Ship Street, which is best viewed at dusk when the aluminum polls of the hop garden design of the sculpture light up. The new Payers Park, which has been created by the art and architecture organisation, muf, is also a fantastic public space which will give a great deal of pleasure to people for many years to come. I would like to thank Sir Roger De Haan for this third Folkestone Triennial, and in particular to congratulate the curator Lewis Biggs, and Alastair Upton, the chief executive of the Creative Foundation.
Last Thursday I was delighted to accept the invitation from David Taylor, the Chairman of the Bradstone Association, to open the new Sunflower House community centre in Folkestone. Sunflower House has been created through the regeneration of a disused former chapel on Foord Road at the foot of Darby Steps alongside Folkestone’s railway viaduct. This excellent project has been led by the local residents with financial support from the local councils and the Roger De Haan charitable trust. The name for the building comes from the beautiful sunflower mural created by Philippa Goddard on the face of the building. Much of the regeneration work has been led by local volunteers under the active guidance of Peter Philips, the Folkestone town sprucer. This has included work experience for local people who are currently looking for employment in the building trade. Sunflower House is also hosting an art exhibition, called ‘A Portrait of Europe’, featuring twenty eight individual portraits; one from each nation in the European Union. This exhibition has been created by the local artist Briony Kapoor and is an excellent addition to the works available to view during the Folkestone Triennial.