Strange Cargo – Art for the people! 

Strange Cargo is a name synonymous with public art events in Folkestone.  It was set up in 1995 as an experiment.  If it would last 2 years, it would have worked.  25 years later, Director Brigette Orasinski is still thinking of new ideas to bring art to Folkestone.

“Folkestone has always been a cultural place, it’s easy to forget that with all that’s going on now.   We’ve always had a good gallery, artists and creative people living here.  However, there wasn’t much aimed at people. Our core ethos at Strange Cargo is to have people join in, to involve people.  We are always looking for that way to feel that art is part of our lives in a real and meaningful way.  All of our work is about getting people involved and being a part of the art we create.” 

“We find grants and funding for all of our work, so that people don’t have to buy a ticket. If you’re not involved in the arts already, you’re never going to get involved if you have to pay for it.  So that’s how we make it accessible.  We’re always looking for interesting ways to bring people to an art event and take them on that journey, where it doesn’t cost them anything.”


“The first Strange Cargo event I was involved in was in 1997, and it’s called Charivari Day.  It’s Folkestone’s carnival, and our open door to what we do.  If you find interest in one art form, you’ll go and find another.  We have teachers, artists and parents who were involved in the first one as children.  People have grown up with this carnival and it’s a great thing to be a part of.”

“The dictionary definition of Charivari says it’s a ‘riot of noise, a cacophony’!  It certainly is that!  It’s a way that people come together, irrespective of your background or how much you earn.  Each year we get around 700-800 people a year walking through the town, banging drums and wearing masks, head-dresses and wonderful creations we’ve all made together.”

Democratic art

“The way we work as artists is to look for how to get people involved that’s interesting for them.  Like The Back Of My Hand our piece celebrating the millennium, was the first piece of public art in Folkestone since the Second World War.  Other People’s Photographs was another one.   Strange Cargo’s work is democratic, provided you have the right idea then people will come forward.  If you don’t get the idea right then they won’t!”

“It’s always about people and high quality art, and not to be elitist.   I want to make the best possible art that people can make.  That’s the heart of what we do.”

Strange Cargo
Strange Cargo

Projects for 2019

“We have a really interesting piece of 3D printing, for St Peter’s Church.  It’s a very unusual way for a church to commission artwork.  We took the data for each person from the Blessing of the Fisheries last summer, and now we’ve made over 100 characters that are on show in St Peter’s Church now.  It’s a chance to show off our community.  You can recognise locals and again, it highlights how our community is based in art. 

“Charivari happened on 6th July 2019, and will be on again in 2020.  We’ve also just got funding for next year’s Festival of Lights in Cheriton in February 2020.”

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