I recently read another blog about the Folkestone Triennial 2017 which described it as a yearly art festival. It isn’t, there’s a clue in the name.
This is plucky little Folkestone’s answer to the Venice Biennale (which, Mr Other Blogger, happens every two years). Folkestone’s art-fest certainly lacks romantic canals, robbing gondoliers and touristic spag-bols at 40 Euros a pop but it does make for a jolly nice day by the seaside.
The Triennial is an autumn event, for good reason. Like Blackpool, it is another seaside town cleverly extending its tourist season. Folkestone does so by dangling contemporary art, rather than coloured lights, in front of a less easily-pleased but more high-spending southern England.
With it being right at the arse-end of the summer you take your chance with the weather. So I suggest you check the weather forecast some days in advance, rather than spinning the Michael Fish Wheel of Fortune* and hoping you land on a nice day.
We’d originally planned to go on an earlier weekend, but then we found out that Storm Brian was planning to run amok on our green and pleasant land. We reckoned that standing for yet another hour trying to make sense of whatever Yoko Ono had left behind from the last Triennial, which we didn’t understand the first time round, would be even less fun with a force ten gale blowing up one’s kilt.
This is the third Triennial I’ve been to now and it has always been a joy. Therefore I suggest you visit it. Sadly this one has just finished, so if you we’re indeed thinking of going to see it then my article is either of sod-all use to you or a mine of useful information should you need three years to plan a simple trip to the seaside. This may apply if you are retired and over seventy, whereby it seems that too much time on your hands encourages you to plan the family’s Christmas in January.
I would suggest you print out the Triennial website’s map of artworks in advance and park your car near the Leas (west of the town centre). That way you can walk up to the Grand Hotel and sample their excellent home-made biscuits, before taking the ‘zig-zag’ path down to the sea-shore and walking into town that way.
Incidentally, if you do print out the map, do it at A3 and in colour otherwise you’ll be squinting at the tiny text all the way round. Assuming you don’t have a bollocking-big printer at home this means doing it at work. If you work for a highly budget-conscious organisation like I do, and you have to send it to a communal printer, then I suggest you rename the file to something more business- credible…like ‘Photocopy of Johnny’s Arse’.
When you get to the town-centre I can heartily recommend the ‘Harbour Fish Bar’ for your fish and chip luncheon. Although the fish is sizeable and mightily toothsome there is no bar as promised, so you’ll need to get pissed before you go in. Make sure you take advantage of their sit-down restaurant, despite the fixed plastic seats that take you and your cramped legs right back to the 1970s.
At the previous Trienialle the weather was unseasonably clement and I made the mistake of eating my fish and chips outdoors on a bench by the harbour instead. My attention had been briefly distracted by a young lady wearing next to nought when a seagull swooped down and nicked my entire fish. This caused much amusement to passers-by, especially when I chased the thieving fecker half-way to Dover.
You can then make your way down a harbour street called ‘Fish Market’, where any sensible seagull ought to be thinking about stealing its lunch, and up to the Martello Tower. The latter is one of a number of round towers built during the Napoleonic Wars to catch sight of any seaborne Frenchmen contemplating an invasion. During the Triennial it is usually bedecked with an artistic statement. This year it was ‘Folkestone is an Art School’. Maybe this is a confusion tactic we should have used against Napoleon. No doubt he would have been desperately looking for coastal towns full of ships, provisions and wenches, not beardy art students.
After that you go back to the town centre and up Tontine Street, which is Folkestone’s ‘Creative Quarter’. These days a lot of otherwise unremarkable towns and cities, even Nottingham, have Creative Quarters. I presume it is their Councils’ PR attempt to make up for the ‘Shit Three Quarters’. From the top of Tontine Street you wend your way westwards through the Retail Quarter and the Drunks Quarter until you make it back to where you parked your car, hoping all the time that it wasn’t the Car Theft Quarter.
Have a nice day.
*Michael Fish was a UK weather forecaster who, thirty years ago, famously predicted that it was going to be a pleasant and balmy evening with absolutely no chance of a devastating hurricane. I never understood what all the fuss was about. I was in Brazil and he was right, it was indeed a lovely evening.