As a natural bay, Folkestone has a long history of seafaring and a rich maritime heritage. Amongst the many challenges sailors and fisherman faced in the very busy and dangerous English channel, communicating at sea has always presented a challenge. Long distances, different languages, and rough seas, meant that visual signals quickly became the preferred method of communication.
Nautical flag messaging can be traced back to the middle of the 17th century, however, it took until 1817 for the system of flags we recognise today to emerge. Over the years, many other maritime codes were published that attempted to improve upon its predecessors, but all of these attempts were finally replaced by the British Board of Trade’s Commercial Code of Signals, issued in 1857.
The early stages of the Covid-19 era saw new forms of remote communication flourish at a time when one third of the planet's population was forced into lockdown. Communities on a local and national scale came together to bang pots in gratitude, perform on balconies, and place crafted posters & messages in windows for the world to see.
Developed through lockdown to present day, Signals is a messaging project using international maritime flags as a regenerated form of visual communication that celebrates Folkestone’s rich maritime culture, whilst encouraging communities to come together again to engage in new forms of communication.
10 & 11 Oct | 10:00 - 15:00
Folkestone Station Platforms, Folkestone Harbour Arm
In our next upcoming workshops, you'll be able to make your own physical messaging flag, for them to be part of the street exhibition happening later this year. Bring along any of your own materials - if you crochet, knit, photograph, stencil, or write for instance - bring them along to make your flag personal to you, the place we live, & in response to Signals. Located under the Harbour Station Platforms of Folkestone’s Harbour Arm, all ages and abilities are welcome.
Urban Room Folkestone (open Weds-Sun, 11am-3pm) is located just between the Old High Street and Harbour, and is a space to reflect on and understand a little more about the past, present and future of Folkestone. The public is invited to come take a look at the intriguing research and an array of texts that delve into analysis of the urban environment, through the lens of the town’s geography and history.
Housed within the exhibition space, you can also get involved in Signals by bringing your friends and family along to URF, where you can make a maritime Signals flag right here, or take one home and return it. Whether you’re an artist or simply itching to do something creative, everyone is welcome. We also have leaflets and crosswords which can be picked up and taken home from URF, which tell you all about the project.
All Signals flags are kept safely with us upon returning them, with the aim for the collection to fly high together as part of a public exhibition along a Folkestone street.
Folkestone Fringe invites the public to take part in Signals for this July's Open Quarter.
Come along to the Folkestone Fringe studio and make your own maritime flag, during this drop-in session - it's fun for all the family! We are working with the communities of Folkestone to share a special message - that will be displayed later in the year above a much-loved street in our town.
With Thanks to L&B Restaurants, Sean Davey Electrical, and Harbour Coffee Co, who have generously supported the delivery of Signals.