Diane Dever and Jonathan Wright have produced their first artistic collaboration in the form of a series of five sculptures called the Pent Houses.
The five sculptures are all different but are all based loosely on the water towers that used to be so common above the streets of New York. The sculptures have been placed along the line of the hidden waterways of the Pent Stream, mapping its course under the streets of East Folkestone by placing waters towers above ground. These waterways were the foundation of Folkestone’s past prosperity, creating the harbour which attracted the initial human settlement, and providing not only fresh water to its inhabitants but also, in the post medieval period, a source of power for industrial mills. As a result of the search for building land near the city centre, the streams were culverted in the nineteenth century, and today the water flows untapped, unused and unseen from the hills to the outflow at Folkestone Harbour.
In the current climate of increased awareness about the pressures on natural resources and the associated costs, flowing water is once again seen as a precious asset, and in many places canals and urban waterways are being opened up and revitalised as parks or cycle paths. The presence of water increases the value of real estate, wherever in the world: this is the sly allusion made in the punning title Pent Houses.
Pent House 1 is placed near the former public baths and the Silver Spring bottling company. It also carries a Plimsol Line marking – Plimsol is one of Folkestone’s more famous sons. Pent House 2 stands at the site of the bridge over the Pent at the highest tidal point of the stream, the top end of the former harbour. Pent House 5 stands over the outflow of the stream into the present day harbour, and has an audio component.
Dever works across mediums and disciplines to explore ideas that lie at the intersections of public, private and liminal space. Her work seeks to provoke insight into how urban space is experienced, quantified, produced and understood. Jonathan Wright is fascinated by the fabric of modernity and the mysterious seemingly functionless structures that surround us in modern society. Wright’s constructed works embody the mechanics of a modern society, which he encourages one to look at afresh.
Dever was born in 1974 in County Mayo, Ireland. Wright was born in 1961 in London, UK. Both live and work in Folkestone.