Explore Folkestone by looking for fake stone

Art can be found in many of Folkestone’s public spaces at the moment, courtesy of the Folkestone Triennial. Some of the works are by Netherlands-based artist Mariko Hori. Hori’s work was inspired by the zigzag path in the Folkestone’s beautiful Lower Leas Coastal Park. The zigzag path leads past rock walls, caves and grottos, which might look real but are very much manmade. Hori has used the same artificial material – Pulhamite – to create her three “rocks”. Instead of filling her rocks with waste rubble, a practice used to build the zigzag path in the 1920s, Hori has filled the boulders with objects donated by Folkestone residents. Over time, as the Pulhamite wears thin, the objects inside will get exposed, making the three boulders ‘time capsules’ for Folkestone’s local residents.

Rock disguised as bush, by Mariko Hori
A 'rock' disguised as bush in Folkestone, by Mariko Hori

Art that makes people rediscover public spaces

The three artworks by Mariko Hori can be found in three different locations in Folkestone. Visitors that want to see all three works will have to take walkways that have been in the city for decades but are not used as much as they used to, because people tend to walk less. That is exactly why the curator of the Folkestone Triennial, Lewis Biggs, had approached Hori to create art for these locations: to attract more visitors to these public spaces which he believes are worth visiting. “That is what art does”, say Biggs. “It points at something. There was nothing and now there is, because the art is pointing at it.” By introducing an artwork, public spaces that were previously largely ignored have become locations that people want to visit and learn more about.

Rock Bush City Limits

One of Mariko Hori’s artworks can be found in Kingsnorth Gardens, near Folkestone Central train station. This well-kept garden with its square bushes was once an excavation site for brickearth and later became a landfill site. A location with such a history deserves a work of art by Mariko Hori, curator Biggs thought. What’s more, when Hori visited the public garden one of the square bushes was missing. That felt like an invite. Now, a rock-like sculpture containing objects donated by local residents fills the space of the missing bush. It has the same shape and size as the garden’s real bushes, thereby wonderfully restoring the original planting pattern.

Boulder on the beach of Folkestone, by Mariko Hori
Boulder on the beach of Folkestone, by Mariko Hori

We’ll Be Breaking Boulders Underneath Our Feet

A walk from Kingsnorth Gardens to the beach, via Castle Hill Avenue and the zigzag path, brings visitors to another one of Hori’s works. Again, this work blends in perfectly with its surroundings. It has a similar shape and size of the massive slabs of stone on that beach. What gives this imposter rock away is it slightly yellower tone. This rock is the most western point of Folkestone Triennial 2021. A beach walk from this location, at the foot of the zigzag path, to the harbour of Folkestone takes visitors past dozens of other artworks, some of them new works part of this edition of Folkestone Triennial, some commissions from previous editions that have become permanent sites in the coastal city’s landscape.

Boulder Bench, by Mariko Hori
Boulder Bench in Folkestone, by Mariko Hori

Stairway To (Not So) Heavy

The shortest way to get from the harbour to yet another heavy looking rock – which is in fact hollow, bar some donated objects, and doesn’t weigh nearly as much as one would expect –  is by taking one of Folkestone’s many historic staircases. This boulder is at the top of the staircase; a wonderful place to sit down and take in the views.

Rock-solid support from the Dutch Embassy in the UK

Folkestone Triennial 2021 (22 July – 2 November) has received funding from the Dutch Embassy in the UK for Mariko Hori’s participation. Cultural organisations in the UK that are giving artists from the Netherlands an opportunity to present their work to British audiences can apply for a financial contribution from the Embassy. More details can be found on netherlandsandyou.nl/uk/culture.