ORGAN THING: Back to the Triennial, the Fringe, Helen Lindon’s paint, Michelle Mildenhall’s latex and ballgags at Lilford, Gary Clough at the Brewery Tap, unfinished seaside business, back to Folkestone…

folkestone_sept17_82

Unfinished business, back on the train, back on the 10.15 for another slice of Folkestone and some more Triennial exploring, for more Fringe exploring, more gallery and art space exploring, back to the seaside while the train company are still being reasonable about those usually crippling ticket prices.  The Triennial and Folkestone were extensively explored last Friday, the words and (fractured) photos  went up on these pages last week, this second Organ piece today is essentially a follow-up, a part two, a second Friday, unfinished business and back for more, if you haven’t already, then you probably need to read part one first, here’s the link –   ORGAN THING: Seaside treats indeed, the 2017 Folkestone Triennial is, on the whole, (and especially in the way it works within the town) a positive triumph…

helen_linden_14

Helen Lindon, Folkestone, 2017

Back on the train again, no corridor expresses but the fares are cheap for the month of September, and yes, as we said last week, the 2017 Triennial (on the whole) is a positive engaging welcoming provoking exciting triumph.  The people on the first off-peak train out of London are testament, most of the carriage appear to be heading for the event (those ten pound return tickets were rather appreciated, fill those half empty off-peak trains up, why stop the ticket deal at the end of Sept? Why not fill those trains for October as well?). We’re not the only ones heading back to the seaside for a repeat visit, the rain isn’t going to stop play, there’s a buzz of excitement on the 10.15, art excites when it connects like the Triennial clearly has…

folkestone_30sept17_19

1930’s Railway poster, Folkestone Museum

Lots more art to explore then, art to be found along the seafront, art up on the hill, there’s art down there beyond the rather intriguing Zig-Zag path, is that more art along that side road? There’s art from this year’s event, art from the previous three Triennials now weathered and fast becoming part of the fabric of the town – Mark Wallingder‘s poignant Folk Stones from 2008, the big Robert Montgomery piece from 2014 that still lights things up up there high on top of one of the colourful buildings of Tontine Street – can’t claim to be the biggest fan of Montgomery’s work, his rather obvious slogans (or whatever you want to call them), but Heaven Is A Place Where Nothing Ever Happens does look rather engaging up there in the early Autumn twilight.

You can find photos and a more in-depth look at the art of the 2017 Folkestone Triennial with the previous Organ feature (that’s the link to the previous feature right there, you just passed it), this time we’re in Folkestone to look a little further under the surface, to talk to locals, to people in studios, in bars, to discover a little about what people are really thinking about the art and the town’s evolution, back to explore a little more than just the Gormley figures on the seafront or those wonderfully photogenic holiday houses of Richard Woods. Of course we can’t resist visiting the Emily Peesgood piece again, I suspect if we lived in the town we’d visit the wonderful piece of art pretty much every single day – such excellent use of sound and space – magical, vital, brilliant (and just as magical in today’s wind and rain as it was in last week’s sunshine)

folkestone_30sept17_22

Richard Woods, Folkestone Triennial, September 2017

There’s three gallery type openings in Folkestone tonight (actually there may have been more, the Fringe is rather busy, there appears to be events, meetings, talks and pop-up gallery type space takeovers happening all over town throughout the couple of months of the Triennial, as well as experimental music events and things on the fringe of the Fringe  –  people seem to think the Lime Bar people are presenting a whole load of good things, certainly a great place to stop for a mid-afternoon refreshment and a very enthusiastic chat about experimental music, experimental radio, the blue grass and folk they have on later that night as well as a chat that draws in the other people in the bar about one of the Jonathan Wright trawler pieces right outside their front door (see last week’s Organ piece, those Trawlers and everything they stand for are certainly a highlight of this year’s Triennial)

fringe_shot

the daily Fringe programme and a website apcked with new events…

A whole afternoon spent exploring the art then, an afternoon talking to people in galleries, to the very positive people of the Creative Quarter itself, to local people on the beach front about how the art engages with them, the debate is healthy and on the whole positive, although the light pollution caused by Yoko Ono’s 2014 Triennial piece doesn’t seem to be that popular with the people who live in the town and use the beach front at night.

There’s three gallery openings in the evening, three that we’re aware of anyway, Folkestone is certainly alive with art…

mildenhall_liliford2

Michelle Mildenhall, Lilford Gallery, Folkestone, Sept 2017

MICHELLE MILDENHALL at LILFORD GALLERY – Funny what a big difference a week can make in terms of how a gallery looks and feels.  Last Friday, the relatively big space permanently occupied by Lilford Gallery looked like a rather too obvious urban art shop, this Friday it looks like an exciting well hung engaging art gallery in a former shop at the top of the steep hill at the head of the Creative Quarter.   Last week the gallery was hosting the excellent Henry Cockburn show down in the basement – some really different, really powerful, really wonderful paintings from Henry down in their basement – while upstairs at street level the space was full of what might be deemed the more polite (dare we say over-slick) end of commercial “urban” art, all valid of course if that’s what you want, over-slick urban art doesn’t really do it for me though, I like my so-called urban art with a bit of dirt under the surface, a risk or two, a bit of danger, a touch of attitude, I like it a little less clean-cut –  original art hanging in a commercial gallery is never a bad thing though, if a clean cut bit of urban art is your thing, Lilford have it. It really wasn’t that exciting at street level at Lilford last week, this week is different though, this week the Pure Evil faces and the Sara Pope lips are down in the basement and the whole upstairs street level space (save for a little bit of the window) is dedicated to a new Michelle Mildenhall show. The main gallery room is alive with her latex-flavoured ballgag pop art portraits and her colourful kink-tinged tongue-in-cheek wit.  This is probably the artist’s biggest show to date, her hints of kink beaming out on to the street from the brightly lit gallery will already be familiar to most, she’s certainly been getting out there in the last year or two.   There’s The Queen in her latex collar and studs, there’s Vladimir Putin looking fetching in pink – Tsarina Putin – there’s Wonder Woman.  The relatively subtle rather beautiful Vivian Leigh portrait stands out amongst her rather distinctive pieces of bold flat bright colour. Good to see a whole room full of Michelle Mildenhall art and she does have such a fine sense of colour, a sense that adds so much to her stylized imagery and “her passion for latex”. I do have a lot of time for Michelle’s art, (we, as Cultivate, were probably the first London gallery to feature her work in any kind of significant way a few years back), Michelle’s work really breathes in here in the space, there’s a growing confidence to add ot her style, Lilford looks exciting this week.

The Michelle Mildenhall solo show is on at the Folkestone branch of Lilford Gallery until October 13th

helen_linden_19

Helen Lindon, Folkestone, 2017

HELEN LINDON at 27 Guildhall Street  – Now Helen Lindon’s solo show is interesting way before you even start to approach the actual art on the walls. Folkestone’s relationship with the art happening in the town is clearly playing a significant part in the old seaport’s healthy rejuvenation, Folkestone is exciting in terms of art, the people on the train heading for Folkestone are excited, taking part in the Art Car Boot Fair again this year was exciting, the Triennial itself is exciting before you even get to the events of the Fringe and the other spaces around the town. And yes the town itself appears excited, the people appear positive, but the very obvious omission from the town centre and the Creative Quarter area is a decent size cutting-edge gallery space where painting can be explored – a gallery is obviously needed, an open white-walled space where art has space to breath, when paint can be admired, where painting can be quietly peacefully contemplated. It doesn’t have to be a plush white cube, it doesn’t have to be some fancy purpose-built building, there’s plenty of great big empty shops and spaces up on the main high street, so much empty space crying out to be used, spaces that probably aren’t ever going to be used as traditional town centre retail outlets again anytime soon (I assume there’s a great big out-of-town shopping centre that people drive to somewhere near Folkestone?).  Empty shop after empty shop just standing there – as always business rates on these relatively big spaces is the big issue, same as it is every town and on every empty high street, totally unrealistic business rates means even peppercorn rents are not viable and you’re left with all these empty spaces sucking the life out of once proud town centres.  So you have all these artists and creative people wanting to fill the empty spaces with new life and fresh energy, wanting to add life to the streets and make people want to spend time in them, make the people want to come in and use the cafes, the newsagents shops and whatever else may still be there, the little shops hanging on next to all those bigger empty shops on the high street.

Big empty shops standing there  while the town is crying out for a semi-formal white wall art space where paintings can hang and breath and people can quietly enjoy those paintings (or those textiles or those sculptures or installations or prints or…). Something has to give, surely those business rates need a re-think, surely the town councils and the national govenment bodies need to think creatively?  Somehow the Folkestone Fringe people (and how brilliant are the people pulling together the Fringe events and organising it all) have managed to persuade the powers to let them use a big empty shop for two weeks during the Triennial and so Helen Lindon’s rather inviting paintings are hanging on the high street in all that brilliant spacious white walled space for two weeks, hanging there and bringing new life to the street and the town, this is surely what Folkestone needs!

helen_linden_3

Helen Lindon, Folkestone, 2017

Helen Lindon’s paintings can breath in here in this big empty shop space, her relatively big paintings afforded lots of space so they can talk to each other without ever getting in the way of each other.  An almost perfectly hung show in just the right space. There’s something special about a bold painting hanging in space on a white wall, a painting just hanging there inviting you to look at it. There’s something about paint on a canvas, about a bold painting and the joy of texture, colour, the joy of paint that lifts a good painting up above everything else – a good painting touches something that an installation, a print, a sculpture or a piece of performance art jsut can’t, I love this show.  I can’t tell you why I love this show, I don’t want to even try to tell you why I love this show, I don’t want to take away the pleasure of the encounter by over-analysing that pleasure – it really is about a gut reaction, a buzz,  a delightful glow – of course these paintings aren’t mere decoration hanging walls and yes there is space for a more considered critical analysis of what they are, these are challenging pieces, exciting pieces, I like it in here in all the space, the white walls are just right, the way the colours talk to each other within the paintings and across the room is just right – structure holding colour, containing the harmony, the clever simplicity, articulate works, and right now, in terms of words on this page, less is more, do love the humanity of a brush stroke, do love this show, really don’t want to spoil it by trying to explain why right now.

Helen Lindon‘s show is in the big empty shop at 27 Guildhall Street, as part of the Folkestone Fringe, until October 8th.  The third of the openings tonight is the Gary Clough show back down the hill on the other side of the Creative Quarter.

folkestone_30sept17_58

GARY CLOUGH – Trace Engines, the Brewery Tap Project Space –  Now this is an interesting space as well, hard not to focus on the actual building the art in inhabiting in terms of this article – the Brewery Tap Project Space is a one-time pub (right next to an open space where the first ever bombing raid by a German aircraft resulting in civilian death and destruction during the First World War), a one-time pub now just the shell of a pub that retains the signage, the tiles and the outside character and well, I guess if the pub had closed down and no one wanted to take it up as a pub again then a very good-looking beautifully lit art space is the next best thing (is there anything sadder than a boarded up closed down lifeless decaying unloved ex-pub just standing there crying out to be used, to live again, this surely has to be a positive way to use an unwanted space). Excellent art space…

folkestone_30sept17_45

Gary Clough, Trace Engines at Brewery Tap Project Space , Folkestone

And the work inside on those well-lit ex-pub walls? Well there’s two statements here that for once tell you quite a bit (really really not a fan of artists or gallery statements and the bullshit they usually spew), two statements that go some way in terms of useful information and an actual hint in terms of the artist’s thought and what’s going on in here on the walls – “Trace Engines is a series of amalgamated drawings that on the one hand suggest a design or plan for something to come, and on the other seem like the residue of something that has already been. In this, they constitute a process of mediation where the acts and media of their creation – the drawing, tracing and mono-printing – become iterative expressions that model an as yet unknown object” and “The images emerge from the habitual practices of drawing that artists use to explore and process the world around them. These drawings, most often contained within the intimate and private spaces of the sketchbook, happen when no one is looking, they are a means to their own ends, a form of practice that keeps the muscles of the hand, the eyes and the imagination working together, and it is in this sense that Trace Engines constitute a speculative work of re-imagining”

folkestone_30sept17_52

Gary Clough, Trace Engines at Brewery Tap Project Space , Folkestone

Must admit this is something on a rushed look at the work on the wall, when really it deserves a couple of hours to explore the blue details of those drawings, printed pieces and the inner workings of those trace engines properly. Really need more time to explore the relationships of the “things” – what are those “things” anyway? Really don’t know anything about Gary Clough’s previous work, he’s a new name to us, I suspect we really do need to know the artist and his work in terms of really knowing what going on here with this body of work, the pieces here feel like an extention of previous things, a signpost to future things rather than an isolated body of work that starts and ends in here with this exhibition on these white walls, this work in these while frames, these blue marks, these hints of blue ceramics, these hints of mechanical workings, tensions…  Sometimes you go see an art show, you spend a bit of time looking at it, then you leave satisfied with the time you’ve spent with that art, you leave, content with the experience, you leave without the need to ever think about the art or the artist again, I left this one with a need to go find out more, Gary Clough is clearly an artist full of intrigue, this feels like a glimpse into his intriguing world and now I really need to explore more (and as soon as I’ve committed these fractured words to electronic paper I shall do just that, resisted the temptation to explore beyond a quick glimpse at his rather good looking Instagram feed (don’t you love it when an artist opens his or her sketchbook?). A bit of a rush around threes rather strong openings before the last train calls us back to London then, feels good in Folkestone.

.GARY CLOUGH – Trace Engines is at the Brewery Tap project Space, Folkestone right now

gary_clough_instagram

Gary Clough’s, instagram feed/

 

Three openings to add to everything else that’s going on then, and all over the town there are bits of art to explore, there’s also the unfinished business of last Friday’s latest #43ArtDrop piece, a piece of work in 43 pieces, 43 paintings on food recycled material picked up off the street, painted on and then left hanging on the streets (and the beach huts and the signposts and the railings), left hanging for the people of the town or the visitors to the town to take should they wish to.  Thirtythree parts were hung last Friday, this Friday’s ten are hung – part of the unfinished business.

folkestone_30sept17_93

Unfinished business, the last of the Folkestone #43ArtDrop pieces

And this time we did get to explore the packed walls of Rebecca Mason‘s Sentient Room, to explore her words, her neon and her feminist wit, Rebecca runs a room halfway up the hill, a gallery-shop-workspace alive with her art and design as well as the art of others, a room bursting with art, a classic artist-run space alive with energetic creativity half way up the steep hill right there in the middle of the town’s rather inspiring Creative Quarter.  We also get to check out the “individual painterly language” of Edward Bridges – managed to miss them last week, really wanted ot see them – his paintings “inspired by his ancestry, childhood travels, the local landscape and the sea” at CYMA Gallery, a gallery space within a rather friendly inviting architect’s office on the steep steep street in the Creative Quarter. There’s Colin Booth‘s installation at the extra friendly Steep Street Coffee shop (great cake as well).

Hang on, people are being friendly, saying hello as we pass, people on the street, people in the art spaces are happy to talk, What’s going on here? Love Sam Capell‘s, fruit box piece at Stables Studios (once again down in the Creative Quarter), and the Studio Ben Allen piece looks just as good this week as it did last week, while Bob and Roberta Smith‘s “Folkestone is an Art School” is packed with kids drawing and painting. The painted beach huts are wonderful, the Zig Zag path hints at a previous magical heyday, the remembrance pieces up on the Lees are just right, as is the excellent Trawler Museum (had to go grab another quick look in there as well).

folkestone_30sept17_17

Edward Bridges at Cyma Gallery

Things are feeling rather good in Folkestone,  of course not everything is right in terms of the art and the engagement, how could it be? Rather hard to find a negative word in terms of the way art is rejuvenating the old fishing port, it does seem to be interacting and respecting the town, breathing life and creativity into a dying town centre (we did try to provoke an argument or a negative reaction from a local or two but no, besides the odd voice picking up on a failing in terms of a specific piece of art and a worry from some about what might come next and what the motives of those funding the art and the spaces really are – on the whole most people seem very positive about the way things are going in the town.

This third visit of the year feels as positive (and exciting) as the first two, the way art is working for and with Folkestone feels rather good, the Triennial feels good – good things happen when art interacts and engages with a community rather than when art just takes over and arrogantly imposes itself. Yes, the 2017 Folkestone Triennial is, on the whole, (and especially in the way it works within the town) still feels like a positive triumph, it was good ot come back, can we go again next week please…   (sw)

Click on an image to enlarge or to run the fractured slide show (I’m a painter, not a photographer!)..

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “ORGAN THING: Back to the Triennial, the Fringe, Helen Lindon’s paint, Michelle Mildenhall’s latex and ballgags at Lilford, Gary Clough at the Brewery Tap, unfinished seaside business, back to Folkestone…

  1. Pingback: ORGAN THING: Frieze week kicks off with a search for the positives at the Sluice Biennial… | THE ORGAN

  2. Pingback: ORGAN THING: Urban art attitudes? Legacy of War? Was Moniker any good then? | THE ORGAN

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s