Folkestone Artworks, the UK’s largest urban contemporary art exhibition, is free and permanently accessible, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, sited outdoors around the town and harbour with artworks popping up in both scenic and surprising locations. The changing exhibition, currently consisting of 84 artworks by 43 artists – including Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley and Yoko Ono – offers an experience like nowhere else in the world: great contemporary art inviting people to explore, examine and understand the town’s geography, history and potential future.
Folkestone Artworks were originally commissioned by the Creative Foundation, an independent arts charity, for the Folkestone Triennial (one of the most ambitious exhibitions of contemporary art outside the gallery context in the UK) that are now on display in public spaces around the town, 24 hours a day, 365 day a year.
It is envisaged that Folkestone Artworks will continue to grow after each Triennial, helping to further develop Folkestone’s reputation as a unique destination in the UK for those who enjoy contemporary art. When people think about Folkestone they think about Folkestone Artworks, which includes works by Tracey Emin, Mark Wallinger, Yoko Ono, Richard Wilson, Pablo Bronstein, Cornelia Parker, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Lubaina Himid, Antony Gormley and Nathan Coley amongst others. Sometime in 2019, Banksy’s Art Buff will also become part of the exhibition.
The scale of the exhibition, means that the impact of Folkestone Artworks can reach across this town of modest size, and help to further build its unique reputation for creativity and spread this internationally as an example of place making. Using the whole town as a gallery space, the work enabled communities to repurpose degraded and unused sites, see the town differently and enable them to articulate and envisage the future shape of the town.
Some pieces from the exhibition, such as Cornelia Parker’s Mermaid and Patrick Tuttofuoco’s Folkestone sign at Harbour Arm, have become iconic images of the town. They regularly feature in press and social media coverage for the town. This shows the role of the Artworks to continue the creative branding of Folkestone, a source of pride for the town and an attraction for visitors. The exhibition is slowly becoming a focal point and a catalyst for the visual arts scene of the town and a learning resource for schools and universities. All of these help cement the reputation of Folkestone as a visual arts town.
Folkestone Artworks is an ongoing conversation between artists, between artworks, between the artworks and the town, and between Folkestone and the rest of the world. This discussion is renewed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Folkestone Artworks illuminates Folkestone as a place, helping to make sense of the future as well as the past.