Folkestone – an arty sunny day at the Triennial.

Our Brummie friends Sue and Graham came down to stay, and yesterday we went to Folkestone – they have got into a routine of attending the Triennial when it comes round, and we have been with them before – here is a post from 2014 would you believe…

Graham was until recently a Uni lecturer in Art, so obviously is well into it, and the rest of us trail in his wake. Anyway, as well as Arty stuff Philospher and I were very impressed with what Folkestone has done to boost tourism/regenerate the town…. Hastings maybe take note?

Antony Gormley – Another Time XVIII

We parked in an absolutely huge car park by the Harbour Arm – plenty of space, but also plenty of confused people wandering vaguely round not knowing how to pay… more on that later, maybe.

We wandered through what was once the old Folkestone Harbour Station. Our previous vists to Folkestone have always been confined to the other side of the harbour – the Stade area – see this 2019 post, because the Harbour Arm area was, until very recently, derelict.

It is now a fantastic leisure complex.  As well as the station, which looks great, there is a big outdoor cinema area – the Harbour Screen – currently showing the Olympics. Hastings BC… Stade Open Space?  Invest in a load of deckchairs and get a few food vans?  Some great wildflower planting, too.


photo off internet – forgot to take any

We went downstairs and viewed the Antony Gormley – see above, then cruised the many food vans/outlets, and chose the Big Greek Bus. It was excellent – lamb souvlaki, Mythos beer, and there was loads of outside seating all along the harbour side.


Just to finish on the Harbour Arm area, later in the day Philosopher and I stopped for a cold drink at the Pilot Beach Bar, on the beach itself, at the end of the station platform. It was very holidayish – a bit like Turkey… but again, HBC, any interest? Shipping containers, plastic chairs, deck chairs, board walk on the shingle, some potted palms? Look, Philosopher has said Folkestone has had lots of money and a development company to do the business, but I believe Hastings also has its own development company? Sea Change – well, I don’t think Battleaxe will go down that particular Queensway Gateway Road just now…

Photo off internet

One downside about that cafe – the app that you were suppsed to use to order/pay for stuff did not work. Look, Battleaxe is all for the digital revolution but the things have to be functional. And don’t get me started on car park apps…

So, back to Folkestone and on with the Art. We saw a few things… but between ourselves it was simultaneously a bit artsy fartsy and a bit unimpressive… the usual art-speak blurb in the brochure about the festival, ‘The Plot’

“The gap between narrative and reality, promise and execution, will often attract our attention (whether amazement, hilarity, criticism or anger). But it’s this same gap that enables art to change people, and so also change the world. It’s the promise of the symbolic world that brings people together and motivates us to act. The artist’s imagination enables us to look at the material world, to imagine how it could be, and realise that it does not have to be the way it is. Great art can lead us to work together to change our surroundings.” Lewis Biggs, Curator of Creative Folkestone Triennial

Oh yeah right… Anyway, here are a few pictures. Some installations are left over from previous years…

I did try a virtual reality session, ‘The Terrarium’. Battleaxe has never tried VR before and I was intrigued. The headset was very hot and heavy though. It was supposed to be an undersea world after the climate crisis full of alien life forms but it looked like something a teenager would produce in his bedroom after dropping  an LSD tab. ‘Very low resolution’ sniffed Graham. I did quite like the octopus tentacles I seem to have sprouted though.

Then, a cruise round the galleries and knick-knack shops in the Old High Street, a drink (see above) and ice cream and then home. Folkestone has some very interesting buildings – old and new, and some excellent street and seascapes…. oh, and a lovely Wetherspoons, the ‘Samuel Peto’ in an old chapel. I wish that Wetherspoons man was not so utterly Brexity-vile, one could patronise his places more. Ugh. I promise I did not actually go in, just snapped a photo at the door. there


Finally, last thought for Hastings – how about one of these piazzas with up-and-down fountains that kids can play in – I know they have one in Bexhill but kids just love them…

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