Yoko Ono is inspired by Folkestone after visiting the Kent town for an art exhibition

by Yoko Ono, Mail Online, 22 Oct 2014

Liverpool is always very special to me because of John, and I love London, of course. But now I have added Folkestone to my list of special places. It’s very surprising to me!

I was invited to visit because I have artworks in the Folkestone Triennial 2014.

I thought I was coming to a sleepy little town, but I found this amazing energy, so much activity – a kind of spiritual rising.

It’s not just a beautiful place; it also has an incredible history linked to the First World War.

I went to pay my respects at the new Memorial Arch, and I think it’s so powerful.

It was dedicated by Prince Harry in August to the fallen soldiers and nurses who walked down Remembrance Road to the harbour to go to war. There are crocheted red poppies on the railings lining the road, and it’s very moving.

All the artworks from the Triennial are placed around the town, and they are part of daily life, instead of being a show in a museum. So you see them when you’re shopping or walking on your way to work, it’s very casual.

Folkestone is a town that wants the world to know that it likes art, that it is sensitive to art, and I wanted to promote that idea. I am invited to art events around the world, but I wanted to go to Folkestone because I believe in localisation, and I wanted to wave the flags for them.

I made Earth Peace, one of my installations, to acknowledge the debt owed to those who died in the wars of the last century. The words are on a billboard by the railway station, and on a flag at the Grand hotel. There is also a light spelling out ‘Earth Peace’ in Morse code.

I wanted to acknowledge the soldiers who died in the First World War.

I saw old photos of them in a wonderful exhibition, Folkestone During The War, organised by the local History Society. I had gone to the Folkestone Library to see my other installation, Skyladder 2014, and when I went up the stairs I discovered the exhibition.

I learned that, during the First World War, the people of Folkestone took in 115,000 Belgian refugees who arrived by boat and were welcomed and treated very well. It was much more than double the population – how did they manage? That was quite something in those days. I found it moving.

In fact I was welcomed here myself once before, in 1966. It was the year I met John, and I came to the Metropole Arts Centre for what they now call performance art. It was very avant-garde and I didn’t think anybody would understand it, but people here showed me smiles, and that was a sign for me.

There is something special about a town by the water. The sea air is very good for your health.

John’s Aunt Mimi used to live at the seaside. When John became halfway successful, he bought a beautiful house for her at Poole in Dorset, overlooking the ocean.

As a child in Japan, I had a very special situation, because my mother had a summer house at the seaside in Kamakura. Now I live in New York, but Manhattan is an island, surrounded by water.

In Folkestone, there is a wonderful fish restaurant, Rocksalt, where I had a fabulous squid lunch. The setting by the harbour is amazing.

Over lunch we were discussing the fact that the guy who designed the CND peace sign, Gerald Holtom, is buried near here. He must have an incredibly strong vibe, and with all the vibrations of the other beautiful people I thought: ‘No wonder!’ I went there to give energy and it was the other way round! I got a lot back. It was a spiritual exchange, extremely positive, and it made me happy.

Visit Folkestone… it could cleanse your spirit.

Yoko Ono was talking to Nina Myskow.

Message from Yoko Ono

The first picture here was taken waiting for lunch to come at a fantastic restaurant you would not believe called ‘Rocksalt‘.

Folkestone is one hour away from London, and we all felt that it will be nice to have some excuse to come back to Folkstone just for this restaurant! The food was better than any London or New York food! We were all surprised and cherished the food.

But Folkstone was totally different from what I expected. The idea was to go to a town which may have been grand at World War One time, and soon after, but had since been asleep. Since I believe in localisation, and I am against centralisation, I felt that I wanted to go there to give them energy to the local situation. Well, I was totally wrong! The place was beautiful in the way we would like to see all cities now. Eco, bodily and spiritually. Very alive in a quiet way, as if everybody was into meditation, and mindfulness! Yet, young and old are all bright-eyed and bushy tails! Yes, I witnessed a few guys with long hair, and girls with short red and blond hair!

Just the fact that it is right at the edge of the ocean spreading out like in a dream, in a right amount of quietness with clean air, clean water, and clean Earth which is now a home for my artwork: EARTH PEACE, I thought well, don’t I know a place like this already with love? – ICELAND!

Of course, nothing can be compared with Iceland for its heavy groove.

Anyway, folks, go to FOLKESTONE TRIENNIAL, and enjoy.

I thought I was going there to give the town energy, instead, a place of joy was uncovering for all!


24 September 2014

Yoko and curator Lewis Biggs talk to Sam Lennon of Kent Online at Rock Salt Restaurant in Folkestone

L1200420 Credit - Karla Merrifield
EARTH PEACE (2014) by Yoko Ono at the Folkestone Triennial

L1200435 Credit - Karla Merrifield
EARTH PEACE Billboard (2014) by Yoko Ono at the Folkestone Triennial

L1200442 Credit - Karla Merrifield

Yoko with Lewis Biggs, curator of the Folkestone Triennal,  looking up to the landing of the library stairs where her SKY LADDER piece is printed on the wall.

L1200455 Credit - Karla Merrifield
SKYLADDER by Yoko Ono at the Folkestone Triennial

Yoko visits the ‘Folkestone During the War’ show at the town’s library.

Local historian and author Michael George, Yoko Ono and Peter Bamford, Secretary of Folkestone and District Local History Society Secretary.


Photos by Allison Dilnutt & Karla Merrifield.

Beatle widow Yoko Ono visits First World War exhibition at Folkestone Library.

22 September 2014
by Sam Lennon, Kent Online

The widow of Beatle John Lennon, who has artwork in this year’s Folkestone Triennial, visited the Folkestone During the War show at the town’s library yesterday.

She spent three-quarters of an hour there despite a busy schedule visiting Triennial displays. Ono had turned up on the last day of the show by Folkestone and District Local History Society.

Secretary Peter Bamford said: “She said she was moved by the part Folkestone played in the war. She asked why the display was ending that day and why it was not run for longer.

“It was explained that we were unable to find another more central location for it but it was hoped that the exhibition could be shown again in full in 2016.”

Ono, who also met and spoke to local historian and author Michael George, was one of two celebrities visiting the displays that day.

The second was TV star Nina Myskow who is a regular contributor to the show Grumpy Old Women and since 2012 has appeared on the Big Brother spin-off Big Brother’s Bit on the Side.

She is also a journalist who was a columnist for The Sun and News of the World. Both signed the visitor’s book.

The exhibition at the library’s Sassoon Room had run since July 7 and had a total 4,000 visitors.

Ono has posters with the slogan Earth Peace around the town for her contribution to the Triennial and an instruction message called Skyladder at the Quarterhouse.

Artist Yoko Ono takes a tour of Folkestone

By DKilpatrick, Folkestone Herald, September 22, 2014

ARTIST Yoko Ono visited Folkestone yesterday to look at artwork from this year’s Folkestone Triennial and to pay her respects to the fallen that passed through Folkestone during the First World War.

John Lennon’s widow, who is also an avant-garde visual artist, has a number of exhibits across the town displaying the words “Earth Peace”, including on a billboard at Folkestone Central station.

Miss Ono was given a tour around the town by Creative Foundation chief executive Alastair Upton, who later tweeted: “Thank you for coming to Folkestone today and your wonderful contribution to the Triennial.”

Alison Dilnutt posted: “Spent four hours photographing Yoko Ono for the Folkestone Triennial today. She is AMAZING!”

The artist, who is a high-profile peace campaigner, was also expected to visit the newly-unveiled Step Short arch to “pay her respects to the dead”.