Official Opening Day Folkestone Triennial 2011

Washed up on the Shores of Folkestone she’s been hired to lure children into the belly of the whale, where pirates , octopus ladies and strange creatures tell tales in the Mermaid Museum!
Despite the rather grey skies hanging over Folkestone on the official day of opening of the Triennial crowds of jovial people gathered in the Creative Quarter and around the harbour. There were bands playing, and the new fountain installed for the occasion had children and adults dodging and chancing the unpredictable timing of the water jets. Only in LA and Dubai will you find the very same fountain design and now in Folkestone! Fringe art exhibitions there are 85 of them to see in total. Located in pop up shops, beach huts, cellars and café’s, and lighthouse sites, galleries opened their doors to interested visitors. I was guiding my friends around some of the public works with the help of the excellent catalogue and guides available from the Visitors Centre. In the green house on Tontine Street crowned with Nathan Coley’s, ‘Heaven is a Place where Nothing Ever Happens’ is a children’s art centre which will stay open to any child who would like to make something right through to September.It is no longer possible to see and engage with everything to see in one day but we managed a tour around the some of the major works. Cornelia Parker’s ‘The Folkestone Mermaid’ had acquired a splash of white paint overnight, which the Council Officers were at pain to remove while we played and ate winkles on Sandy Beach.
Later in the Old High Street ‘Boutique Kosovo’ an installation by Erzen Shkolli. We focused on tradition and folkloric artefacts and notions of the unique in the face of global uniformity increasingly dictating that garments and the clothes we wear become identical everywhere you go. Again on the Old High Street, between the Centre of Peace and the Soap Parlour and opposite ‘Still in the Trenches’ you will find a place titled: ‘Never in a Million Years’, and visitors step into a future scenario of what it might be like to be a space traveller and space tourist. Joseph Popper and Shing Tat Chung’s showcase of artefacts features instruments for detecting unidentifiable odour, a video installation, and space story telling printer. Speculating on the not so distant future the work is based on current scientific research in space exploration.Closer to home ‘Strange Cargo’ is at the George House Gallery which for the occasion has transformed into a stylish 50tees home with extras. Accompanying the show is a new kind of travel Guide entirely made up from impressions and moments recorded by the townsfolk of Folkestone or those who have memories of living there. ‘Everywhere means something to someone’ if you thought Folkestone was ordinary read again! On the site of the former Rotunda Amusement Park, see A K. Dolven’s ‘Out of Tune’. A 500-year-old bell has been given a new voice by the artist. Freed from any such constraints as a church tower or being rejected for being out of tune, or having to ring the time, it now towers high above and swings on a steel cable on the edge of the large flat concrete expanse down by the pebbly beach linking land and sea and sky. Evocative of distance, time and dislocation it is on the list of my favourite art pieces!

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