Kinetic Coast 11th August 2016
The “Kinetic Coast” is a project of which you may have heard little to date but it is a concept whose time has come and about which those living in The Bay are soon going to hear a great deal more.
The Team that have brought the highly successful Duchamp and Cartoon Festivals to the town now want to put Herne Bay on the map bigtime and, just before you say “it`s already there” , you may have noticed that the recent Time Out coastal guide which included Whitstable and Margate amongst a number of other locations omitted The Bay. Why? Possibly in part because while festivals (The International Radio Festival and the Air Show are other good examples) bring visitors to the Town in bursts there is no permanent attraction other than the beauty of the Town itself that draws people in large numbers to sustain the local economy.
“Kinetic Coast” could be about to change all that and to introduce the missing ingredient that will transform Herne Bay from a delightful seaside town into a major visitor destination around the year. It is designed to complement rather than to compete with the development plans for the town centre and the excellent work that continues to be done to regenerate and to utilise the pier.
Like many “It will never happen here” projects – the hugely successful and transformative Turner Contemporary in Margate is a good example – Kinetic Coast is big and bold and will not come on the cheap but when I met with the driving force behind the scheme, Jason Hollingsworth, last week I was impressed by both the vision and the practicality of a concept that can and, given a fair wind, a great deal of hard work and considerable fundraising, be brought to fruition.
The Kinetic Coast plan envisages a moving sculpture trail from the Reculver Towers through the Herne Bay Coastal Park and the seafront to Hampton Pier. It should in my view also embrace that oldest of kinetic sculptures, if you choose to think of it in that way, Herne mill together with the newest which is, of course the windfarm . The latter is another `marmite` attraction that, like the Turner Contemporary, you either love or loathe but either way it cannot be ignored. The proposed sculptures, each specially commissioned, will be designed to reflect light and sound through movement and texture and touch and will be element-powered using the sun, the sea, the rain and the wind and so be eminently sustainable. Some of the conceptual designs that I have seen – The Singing Whelk, a wind-driven Zeotrope , the “Metamorphosis “ Sea Horse that turns into a Thornback Ray at low tide, and the bizarre “Mutiscope” which is a kind of tubular telescope that points at where you least expect it to - are stunning and I particularly like the idea of “The Bishopstone Fossil” which is not a local resident but rather a sculpture designed to reflect the geology of the area.
The sceptics, an no doubt The Bay`s serial whinger, will say that this is “arty-farty rubbish and a waste of money”. I regard myself artistically as a philistine but even I can see the huge potential for enhanced prosperity in the town that Kinetic Coast will stimulate. The first piece of sculpture, which could be installed as a trail-blazing pioneer item on the seafront by next summer, is under construction and available for purchase and the £200,000 needed to buy it is about to become the subject of a major fundraising exercise. Could it “happen here”? Yes, I believe that it could and should and that those other coastal locations that have already cast envious eyes at the Cartoon Festival will look to Herne Bay with amazement at the audacity of such a brave little town when we pull this off.