I’ve visited Folkestone Triennial on several occasions over the past decade or so. Up until 2021 my highlight had been experiencing Martin Creed’s sound installation, 2011, for the then-recently restored Victorian funicular Leas Lift. But this year – as part of Creative Folkestone’s 5th Triennial, The Plot, it now has to be Gilbert & George’s Respect Road, which appears to be sited partly in response to local development that is taking place above and below The Leas cliff.
So, this year I was delighted to be invited to speak as part of The Plot in the Clearing – a series of salon-style, expert-led talks that include the Triennial’s current curator Lewis Biggs, and exhibiting artist Bob and Roberta Smith.
The question was, once invited to speak (thank you to Lewis Biggs and programme manager, Liv Pennington) what on earth was I going to talk about? I hoped that my enigmatic title – Folkestone through the eyes of a thrill engineer – would buy me a few more weeks to work it out. This approach can be a gamble, but when I watch the recording of my talk (below), I *think* it paid off. Dunno – you tell me.
I explore Folkestone in terms of commodities I understand: the power of waves to produce motive and emotive force; the use of local topography to produce speed from height; a visitor’s capacity for experience, their desire to consume it, and a local entrepreneur’s ingenuity in providing it.
At the end of my talk I propose an exhilarating, ‘non environmentally unsound’ (purposeful double negative), alpine slide down the face of the cliff, powered by the daily sewage of just 171 of the new luxury apartment homes being built above the cliffs. This ‘shit ride’ could generate £360,000 economic value for the local economy in just 6 weeks during the summer holidays. I just hope Gilbert & George will accept my invitation to be the first to ride.