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Folkestone Triennial artworks: which ones may stay on in the town when the Triennial ends

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It’s become a much-anticipated fixture in the UK’s art calendar, as well as Kent’s.

But which of the Folkestone Triennial 2017’s artworks will become a permanent fixture?

The fourth edition of the Triennial has brought jelly moulds, metal men, mushroom batteries and blinging boats to the town, attracting thousands of visitors to marvel at the sights – and this is the last weekend to see them all in their full glory.

Antony Gormley's Triennial piece at Folkestone Picture: Gary Browne
Antony Gormley's Triennial piece at Folkestone Picture: Gary Browne

Each Triennial features around 20 works commissioned, some eight to 10 of the artworks are chosen to become permanent fixtures around the town, mingling with the new additions.

Forget paying to see world famous works: they’re free and available all year round. Some you will stumble across without even meaning to, some you will have to look a bit harder to find.

Works which have stayed the course, and become local sights, blending in to day to day life from previous editions, include Kent artist Tracey Emin’s Baby Things, which can be found hanging from railings, or just lying on the kerb, but if you touch them, you’ll feel they are bronze casts and not woollen mittens or cardigans. They are reminders of Folkestone’s high teenage pregnancy rate, similar to that of Margate, her home town.

Hundreds dug for gold on Sunny Sands
Hundreds dug for gold on Sunny Sands

Folkestone’s answer to Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid – the Folkestone Mermaid, by Cornelia Parker – was a commission for the 2011 Triennial.

Her watchful gaze looks out over the horizon, alluding to the threat of rising sea levels and endangered populations living by the sea.

The life-size bronze cast is, however, not a lookalike of the idealised Copenhagen Mermaid, but a real person, a free spirit and is that of local mother of two, Georgina Baker.

Michael Sailstorfer’s Folkestone Digs caught the world’s attention as thousands descended on the beach to find 30 pieces of gold buried there, but the excitement lingers on, as even today, not all of them have been declared – only about 15 were! “It’s a legacy that lives on,” says Alastair Upton, the Creative Foundation’s chief executive.

The Antony Gormley statue at Folkestone
The Antony Gormley statue at Folkestone

Some works won’t be staying, including Antony Gormley’s Another Time statues, which were only on loan to the county.

Although decisions on which works can stay have not been made public yet, here are some of the most likely candidates from this year:


She delved deep into the world of sea shells and sea shell sculptures for her work. Exploring the pleasurable possibilities of sea shells, she has created works from sea shells which have been displayed in local people’s windows for passers-by to admire. However, five have also been bronzed – to protect them from the town’s inquisitive, and on occasion, destructive, seagull population, and are fixed on walls and buildings around the town.

If they survive the seagulls, they may well stay.

Amelia Pica's seashell works in Ship Street, Folkestone Picture: Gary Browne
Amelia Pica's seashell works in Ship Street, Folkestone Picture: Gary Browne


Tontine Street, in the town’s Creative Quarter, is already adorned with a number of Triennial reminders – especially if you look up high.

They include Heaven Is A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens, Nathan Coley’s illuminated text sculpture, signifying British seaside towns and their associated with retirement, and a place of “last resort“.

This year, Folkestone artist Jonathan Wright has created a series of small, gold boats held up high along Tontine Street, representing both the hidden river, the River Pent, under the road, and the town’s first fishing boats. His creations are gilded replicas, made using a 3D printer.

Jonathan Wright's Fleet on Foot in Tontine Street, Folkestone Picture: Gary Browne
Jonathan Wright's Fleet on Foot in Tontine Street, Folkestone Picture: Gary Browne


Folkestone’s Creative Quarter is the hub of all things Triennial. Artist Michael Craig-Martin’s composition Light Bulb metaphorically lights up the junction of two streets, The Old High Street and Tontine Street and is on the curve of the building façade, signifying ideas, energy and enlightenment, representing the essence of the regeneration in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter.

Michael Craig-Martin's Lightbulb in Folkestone's Creative Quarter Picture: Gary Browne
Michael Craig-Martin's Lightbulb in Folkestone's Creative Quarter Picture: Gary Browne


Heritage and creativity come together with David Shrigley’s Lamp Post (as remembered). He invited an artist friend from Edinburgh to visit and memorise – in just 40 seconds – the ornate lamp posts along The Leas. Her creation from memory, now stands among the others.


At Folkestone Boardwalk, stands Lubaina Himid’s jelly mould-inspired creation.

The artist collects ceramic jelly moulds, adding her own painted pattern decorations. Her full-scale Jelly Mould Pavilion is on the former Rotunda leisure site, where barley sugar, candy floss and toffee apples fuelled the fun of summer visitors.


When invited to paint The Cube building in Tontine Street, Sinta Tantra aimed to make the building “fizz”. She used candy pink, racing green and Wedgewood blue, all found in a poster from 1947 advertising rail travel to Folkestone.


The return of Folkestone's Banksy to public display is due to take place in 2018. It will appear on a new building being constructed in Folkestone close to the original location in the town's Payers Park.


The Folkestone Triennial runs until Sunday, November 5. For more details and information on the artists and events go to folkestonetriennial.org.uk
There is a map to guide you around the sites. Organisers estimate it takes around four hours to visit all of them on foot.

* For all our features on this year’s Folkestone Triennial and the Folkestone Artworks, visit kentonline.co.uk/whats-on

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