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      Folkestone Triennial 2020: The Plot in Folkestone

      • Folkestone Triennial 2020: The Plot Photo #1
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      September 5, 2020 - November 8, 2020


      Folkestone, Kent, United Kingdom
      Folkestone, Kent

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      Folkestone Triennial 2020: The Plot

      Creative Folkestone is pleased to announce the fifth edition of Folkestone Triennial, running from 5 September – 8 November 2020 and presenting around 20 newly commissioned artworks by internationally acclaimed artists. Curated for the third time by Lewis Biggs, the 2020 Triennial, entitled The Plot, invites visitors to consider urban myths and their relation to verifiable realities: the gap between the story and the actuality.

      The 2020 Triennial uses three historic Folkestone narratives as a point of departure: St Eanswythe’s Watercourse; the physician William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood; and Folkestone’s industrial road ‘The Milky Way’ (see Notes to Editors). Referring to passages of movement - the movement of water, blood and goods - the exhibition will present artworks in public spaces across the town, along the various routes associated with these stories. By borrowing from, or lending to, existing narratives, the exhibition, though set in Folkestone, raises questions around the universal need to distinguish reality from myth.

      The title The Plot suggests multiple meanings. Conceptually, a ‘plot’ can be a narrative or conspiracy; from a material point of view, it can also mean a plot of land, or to plot a course or graph – things that are mathematically verifiable. Observing the gap between personally verified experience and what is otherwise told or narrated, the Triennial urges viewers to consider the voids left behind by ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truths’. Lewis Biggs expands:

      ‘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.’

      Following the 2020 Triennial, a selection of the artworks will remain on site in the town as part of Folkestone Artworks, the UK’s largest ongoing urban outdoor exhibition of contemporary art.

      Details on the artist list and commissions will be announced in 2020.

      Follow Folkestone Triennial on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @FstoneTriennial

      For media and image enquiries

      Milly Carter Hepplewhite or Lisa Hopf at Pelham Communications
      +44 20 3958 5750 /

      Notes to Editors

      About Folkestone Triennial
      Folkestone Triennial is one of the most ambitious exhibitions of contemporary art outside the gallery context presented in the UK. The seaside town of Folkestone on the south-east coast of England has no publicly subsidised art gallery, so artists are invited to use the town as their ‘canvas’, utilising public spaces to create striking new art that reflects issues affecting both the town and the wider world. Inaugurated in 2008, the Triennial takes place every three years and is one of the 5 key projects of Creative Folkestone. Artists commissioned to take part in previous Triennials include Lubaina Himid, Bob and Roberta Smith, Cornelia Parker, Tracey Emin, Jeremy Deller, Martin Creed, Richard Wilson, Yoko Ono, Pablo Bronstein, Andy Goldsworthy and Michael Sailstorfer. The Triennial was visited by 135,000 people in 2014 and increased to 150,000 people in 2017. For the 2014 edition, the Triennial began a significant public programme which included some 18,000 learners, over 70 schools and 50 community groups; in 2017, this comprehensive programme was developed to 202 talks, tours, workshops, conferences through a schools and community programme as well as a further and higher education programme.

      About Creative Folkestone
      Creative Folkestone is an independent arts charity dedicated to producing and enabling the very best creative activity that will transform Folkestone and the surrounding area of Kent. Working with the people of Folkestone, its partners and other stakeholders, Creative Folkestone makes the town a better place to live, work, visit and study. As an organisation it believes that everyone is creative, and that creativity has the power to change people and places for the better. With this passion for creativity at its heart, Creative Folkestone enables people’s creativity to flourish, enriching the town and those who live in or visit it and so transform Folkestone’s reputation. Established in 2002 and formerly known as Creative Foundation, Creative Folkestone has a remarkable record of success, having already transformed the old town of Folkestone, around the scenic harbour, into a Creative Quarter populated by artists and home to creative industries. Over five hundred jobs have been created, ninety buildings have been restored and Quarterhouse, a performance venue for music, theatre, dance and comedy was built in 2009. The town has been animated by four internationally acclaimed visual art Triennials; Folkestone Artworks - the UK’s largest urban outdoor exhibition of contemporary art; and an annual Book Festival.

      About Lewis Biggs
      Lewis Biggs was Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Liverpool Biennial from 2000 - 2011, during which time the ten-week Biennial Festival became one of the most exciting and best attended arts events in the country. Internationally recognised as ‘the UK’s Biennial’, the 2010 Festival attracted nearly one million visits by over 500,000 visitors. Lewis Biggs was Director of Tate Liverpool from 1990 – 2000 and has been commissioning art outside the gallery context since co-curating ‘Artranspennine’ with Robert Hopper in 1998. For Liverpool Biennial, he brought Antony Gormley’s Another Place to Crosby Beach in 2005, and in 2007 commissioned Turning the Place Over, from Folkestone Triennial 2008 artist Richard Wilson. These and other initiatives contributed to Liverpool’s programme as European Capital of Culture 2008. Lewis Biggs is currently Distinguished Professor of Public Art at Shanghai University; Chairman of the Institute for Public Art and an advisor to Kaunas (Lithuania) European Capital of Culture 2022. He co-curated Aichi Triennale (Nagoya, Japan) in 2013, and he curated Land Art Mongolia Biennial 2018 and Folkestone Triennials in 2014 and 2017.

      The Three Historical Narratives

      St Eanswythe’s Watercourse. St. Eanswythe was a seventh century princess of the Kentish royal family who took up residence in Folkestone. The watercourse named after her was a straightforward (if ambitious) piece of engineering. It is a verifiable fact that the watercourse ran along the present Guildhall Street and supplied The Bayle with fresh water for between seven and eleven centuries, but ongoing archaeological and historical research have so far failed to establish with certainty the date of, or responsibility for, its construction. We do not know when it was first linked to St Eanswythe or the origin of the story of the miraculous action that earned the princess her sainthood for ‘making water run uphill’. However, the Kentish princess became the patron saint of the town, and her life is still celebrated every 12 September. But ask any inhabitant of Folkestone today where Eanswythe’s miraculous watercourse actually ran and they will struggle to tell you.

      William Harvey (1 April 1578 – 3 June 1657) was born in Folkestone, where his father was Mayor in 1600. There he drank and washed in the water supplied by St Eanswythe’s watercourse, which passed very near the house where he was born (between the present-day Rendezvous Street and Old High Street). He was the first known physician to describe completely, and in detail, the systemic circulation and properties of the blood – in his book De Motu Cordis, 1628. He became Royal Physician to James I and Charles I. Harvey’s statue stands overlooking the sea at the junction of Castle Hill Avenue and The Leas.

      The Milky Way was the informal name for Foord Road South. It can be taken as an image standing for the transience of Folkestone’s ‘industrial’ cycle. In the last quarter of the 19th Century, horse-drawn carts hauled coal from the Harbour to the Gasworks and returned down Foord Road South laden with chalk to be used as ballast by the ships. The road was stained black by coal dust and then white by chalk falling from the carts, making it look like the Milky Way. Foord Road climbs The Pent Valley alongside the lower reaches of the Pent River, which was the source of power for mills and the town’s industry, while the valley higher up was the first area to be developed for middle class housing in the mid-19th Century. Ultimately, the Pent river is the reason for Folkestone’s existence, the river and tidal inlet providing access through the cliffs for traders and smugglers, and safety for fishing boats.

      Categories: Art Galleries & Exhibits | Museums & Attractions | Outdoors & Recreation

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