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Fifth Folkestone Triennial to take place this summer


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The dates for the upcoming fifth Folkestone Triennial have been released.

This year, the art festival will be extended and run from July 22 to November 2 and include more than 20 outdoor, newly commissioned public artworks.

Folkestone's beach huts, by Rana Begum and commissioned for Creative Folkestone Triennial 2021 in partnership with Folkestone and Hythe District Council. Photo by Tom Bishop
Folkestone's beach huts, by Rana Begum and commissioned for Creative Folkestone Triennial 2021 in partnership with Folkestone and Hythe District Council. Photo by Tom Bishop

The first artwork to be unveiled will be the town's new colourful beach huts, which have been built over the last few months.

They replaced some of the rundown beach chalets running along the coast between Folkestone and Sandgate. Some of the other existing huts were also repaired as part of the scheme.

New photos show rows of the brightly painted huts along the promenade.

Free to the public, the triennial marks one of the UK’s biggest art exhibitions and runs every three years.

However it was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Previous work by Pilar Quinteros, who is planned to take part in the next triennial
Previous work by Pilar Quinteros, who is planned to take part in the next triennial

This year's theme for the festival is The Plot.

Work will come from artists including Assemble, Rana Begum, Gilbert & George, Atta Kwami, Pilar Quinteros, and Richard Deacon.

Following its run, some works will remain as permanent additions to Creative Folkestone Artworks, which currently features 74 artworks located across the town and harbour and accessible throughout the year.

Alastair Upton, chief executive of Creative Folkestone, which organises the event, said: "After a year’s delay, and all that has happened in that time, we are delighted to present the return of the Folkestone Triennial this summer.

"Folkestone’s communities have been so supportive of each other these last 12 months and have shown incredible resilience despite being one of the hardest hit by Covid-19.

Previous works from the 2017 triennial
Previous works from the 2017 triennial

"The pandemic has highlighted the value of culture in our everyday lives, and now we can celebrate our town, reimagined by a brilliant line-up of artists, and show the world what Folkestone is made of.

According to Creative Folkestone, this year's triennial invites visitors to consider "urban myths and their relation to verifiable realities: the gap between the story and the materiality".

Site-specific sculptures and installations will be sited along three routes synonymous with historic Folkestone narratives.

Curator Lewis Biggs said: "When I started planning this exhibition and inviting wonderful artists to consider sites in the town, I couldn’t have imagined how the coming pandemic would foreground The Plot’s global themes.

"Ownership of the truth and of scientific method have never been more contested, as different social and economic interests battle to determine the narrative about, and reaction to, Covid-19 and its variants (as well as to the climate emergency, BLM, the US Presidential election, human rights in China etc).

Folkestone's new beach huts
Folkestone's new beach huts

"Perhaps more surprisingly, lockdowns, travel bans and ‘staycations’ have demonstrated just how important to our well-being is the neighbourhood outside our front doors, leading us to re-evaluate the material quality of our local environment and amenities, the corner shops and parks no less than the broadband, as being ‘vital’ rather than merely ‘desirable’."

One piece, by Jacqueline Donachie and titled Beautiful Sunday, will explore the notion of place as a transitory state of evolving change and renewal, and will include a vast dance floor and film celebrating the night-time revellers of Folkestone, honouring the social club which was once located on the site.

Nearby, Turner Prize-winning multi-disciplinary collective Assemble have collaborated with local skate boarders to create a series of interactive sculptures, Skating Situations, to be used by the community.

Meanwhile Rana Begum has transformed the beach huts which line more than a kilometre of promenade with an entirely new colour scheme, using compositions which play with geometry, colour and light.

Cllr John Collier, from Folkestone and Hythe District Council - which is behind the beach hut project - said: “We were delighted to partner with Creative Folkestone and turn a refurbishment and development project into a visionary and head-turning piece of art.

"These beach huts embody the spirit of Folkestone - bold, creative and extraordinary. I am thrilled that they will be part of the very special Triennial this year."

Folkestone Town Council are now installing CCTV to cover the area and help keep the beach huts protected from vandalism.

For the first time, Creative Folkestone will also bring the triennial online through virtual tours and video content.

To see previous artwork from past triennials, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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