Alex Hartley is an internationally recognised artist who is known for working with photography and architecture, often incorporating both into sculpture and installation. Hartley’s work often suggests how we might think differently about our constructed surroundings, and how we occupy landscape. His artistic practice is wide ranging, comprising wall-based sculptural photographic compositions, room-sized architectural installations and interventions.

For Folkestone Triennial 2014, Alex Hartley’s response to the title Lookout is inspired by the imposing architecture of the Grand Burstin Hotel, which overlooks the Harbour. The architecture of the hotel echoes that of an ocean liner and looks across at the site which saw active service as a ferry port from the 1840s until 2000. From the hotel’s top floor rooms, one can see views across Folkestone and the English Channel. For his project Vigil, Hartley will use state of the art climbing technology to make a lookout point suspended from the highest point of the hotel. This climber’s camp will be inhabited for the duration of the Triennial, by the artist and by volunteers, all of whom will keep a log of what they observe. This act of vigil has resonance both with the recent Occupy movement and with the ancient tradition of hermits retreating from the world to a high place in order to fulfil their functions as a ‘seer’ better (St. Simeon Stylites among others).

Born in 1967 in Surrey, Hartley lives and works in Devon and London. Hartley’s Nowhereisland was one of 12 Artists Taking the Lead projects across the UK which formed part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad. He has shown in both national and international exhibitions including: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; Denmark (2000); National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan (2001); Distrito Cuatro, Madrid (2003); Natural History Museum, London (2006); Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2007).

Follow the daily log being kept from Vigil at

Audio guide



With special thanks to:







Britania hotels logo

White Light




  1. Posted by Carol Clark on June 26, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I understand you need people to man this installation, I would be very happy to take a turn. Many thanks Carol Clark

  2. Posted by Vigil: Composing my next work, 14 storeys up « Em Peasgood on August 31, 2014 at 10:51 am

    […] VIGIL is an installation by international artist Alex Hartley which is taking place during the nine weeks of Folkestone Triennial 2014. It started yesterday, on the 30th of August, and finishes on the 2nd of November. The theme of this years Triennial is LOOKOUT: The lookout is a key part of Folkestone’s history as a port and its inhabitants have always looked out to sea. Alex Hartley’s Vigil is perfectly situated at the highest point of the Hotel Burstin, offering extensive views of the harbour and sea beyond. The installation utilises climbing equipment, forming a base camp of sorts, complete with three platforms and a sleeping tent. It echoes the recent Occupy movement and the ancient tradition of hermits who retreated to high lonely places to fulfil their function is ‘seer’.  […]

  3. Posted by Folkestone’s on the edge of something | Dan Thompson, artist and writer on September 1, 2014 at 9:46 am

    […] with architecture like something from Soviet Russia. Perched just above the highest balcony is Alex Hartley’s Vigil. Hartley has installed a climber’s camp, hanging outside the top floor rooms. This spot, the […]

  4. Posted by Adam on September 2, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Alex Do You Want To Play Morse Code Battle Ships?

  5. Posted by Karen Ana Stewart-Urrutia on September 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Hello Alex,

    How are you? I would love to live in your art instalation for a while in the Grand Burstin Hotel please?

    Big hugs



  6. Posted by Love Folkestone – Opening week of Folkestone Triennial 2014 is a roaring success on September 6, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    […] invisible, unless you know to look up, is Alex Hartley’s ‘Vigil‘ which can be viewed nicely from the harbour. The artist and a team of volunteers are keeping […]

  7. Posted by Rachel Grieve on October 12, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Hi. Is there any way members of the public can spend some time inside the installation? I would love to!

    Many thanks,

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