An ActIve Ghost

New Photographic Works by David Christian

Curated by Theresa Kneppers
Part of HOP Projects CT20 2019 Curatorial Residency Programme

Exhibition Opening: Friday 31 May 2019, 5-8PM
Opening times: Saturday 1 & Sunday 2 June, 11:30 AM - 5PM



Saturday 01 June, 10:00 – 13:00 | FREE DROP-IN workshop led by Theresa Kneppers | Urban Room Folkestone

A collaborative workshop exploring infrastructures’ potential for flexibility and resilience at 10-1pm on Saturday, June 1st, at Urban Room in tandem with the exhibition “An Active Ghost” a new series of photographs by David Christian, at HOP Projects. This project takes inspiration from the history of Folkestone as a former shipping port, ferry terminal, and trade centre; and considers its current and past roles as a portal to Europe and beyond.

Sunday 2 June, 15:00 onwards | FREE Walk with David, Theresa and Pavement Pounders. Meeting at: HOP Projects CT20, 73 Tontine Street, Folkestone, CT20 1JR

Images by David Christian

For HPCT20 2019’s Curatorial Residency Programme, Theresa will present new photographs by the artist, David Christian, for an exhibition called, An Active Ghost. This project takes inspiration from the history of Folkestone as a former shipping port, ferry terminal, and trade centre; and considers its current and past roles as a portal to Europe and beyond. 

The exhibition will focus on the contemporary and Victorian infrastructure: including now disused train tracks, bridges, train station; along with the modern infrastructure for the Eurotunnel including its terminal; and the roadways, and overpasses which lead to and from it. Looking at this infrastructure, both past and present, as historical markers on the landscape we will utilise a constellation of narratives to consider the social, transport, trade and shifting uses of these aspects of the man-made industrial landmarks in the landscape. We will work with the writer and researcher, Edwina Attlee, to produce written pieces that consider these aspects of the built history of Folkestone. This written work will be shown alongside a series of large-format photographs.

The show will be a document of the traces of the area’s transport infrastructure. The intention is to propose that although some of these structures no longer serve the functionality they were originally created for, this does not mean they are defunct but that their meaning and usage has shifted, and has been adapted to serve the community differently. My goal for the project is to highlight the connection between a site’s past and present; perhaps altering the way a viewer sees, considers and relates to the landscape, which is especially relevant at this moment when we are reconsidering and renegotiating our relationship with Europe and the wider world.

Pipes in Folkestone Warren

Sam Johnson-Schlee

Is there anything that can’t be piped? From photons in a fibreoptic cable to sewage, all of human life is shuttled through pipes. There is a pipe at the heart of the steam locomotive, that sped along rails and disciplined time so that everyone knew when the working day was whether it was light or dark. It is with pipes that we have negotiated the most resistant parts of our landscape, carving tunnels through mountains, cliffs, and the seabed.

Before we began to pipe people to Paris we built tunnels through the cliffs between Dover and Folkestone. The problem with a pipe is it depends very much on its capacity to hold its contents – the moment they crack or shift or wear out they start to leak or become blocked, and are useless altogether.

In 1915 at Folkestone Warren, a train emerged from its tunnel having been told just in time to slow down. The earth ahead had slipped away and it rolled onto the track, which slipped 50 metres towards the sea where the train eventually derailed. At the Warren, where Edwardians used to like to picnic, the combination of heavy ground and chalk meant that wet winters threatened further land slips. More pipes were made, this time bored into the ground to promote drainage, and walls were built to hold back the earth.

Whilst we can partially defend ourselves against the weather and the sea, we have not yet found a way to pipe away the threat altogether. In 2015 a storm undermined a stretch of coastal line at Shakespeare Beach on the same line. The sea wall there has since been reinforced with what Network rail refer to as granite armour.

Where trains run through tunnels between Folkestone and Dover, the sea is wearing away the cliffs that contain them. There is nothing to do about it. The plan is to let it go, to remove the thing which the tunnels tunnel through. There is a plan for the sad moment at which the pipes fail: “As such, it is recommended to allow this ongoing erosion to continue in the knowledge that the rail line will become inoperable at some point within the next century.”

Rather presumptuously the plans laid out in the Environment Agency’s South Foreland to Beachy Head Shoreline Management Plan 2006 promise graciously to “allow” the continued erosion of the cliffs. The coastline will be permitted to form itself. The rising sea will undermine the chalk and reclaim part of the land above sea level. In compensation for the pain the ocean will suffer as temperatures rise, and glaciers melt, the sea will claim back some of what it had allowed, for a while.