Arts + EntertainmentKent Towns


Folkestone is in the midst of a huge regeneration, led mainly by the arts. This month, insideKENT spoke to one of the town’s artists, who also has his own gallery in Folkestone, about what makes the place so special, and about his own work and hopes for the future. 


If you had to define your art, how would you describe what you do?

I’m a figurative painter and mainly paint in oils with a palette knife. I paint a wide variety of subjects, from seascapes and landscapes to still lifes and portraits. I like looking at ordinary, everyday scenes and making them into works of art. I’m not interested in trying to be clever but aim to communicate atmosphere and emotion in my work.

How did you become an artist?

It was something I wanted to do since leaving school. I went to live in Berlin in my early twenties to try my luck at it then but ran out of money after a year and ended up teaching, translating and tour guiding! I moved back to England after three years and got an office job but kept returning to painting. One day I went to Lympne (about 10 miles from Folkestone where there is an amazing view over Romney Marsh) and painted there for an afternoon. I took the painting home and put it in my kitchen. When I looked at it I started to think that maybe I could be good enough to become professional so I made a decision; I would paint one hundred paintings and by the end of that process I’d know whether I was good enough or not. It took about two years and by the end of it I had turned professional.

The Leas, Folkestone

The Leas, Folkestone

Folkestone clearly plays a big part in your work. What is it about the town that inspires you? 

Folkestone is a town of mixed fortunes which I find interesting. Also, it has such great variety visually. There is the working fishing harbour, the coast, beach and seafront, then the downs just behind the town. It’s also a town in the midst of a transformation – mainly arts-led regeneration. It’s great being part of that.

You’ve run your own gallery in Folkestone since 2005. What made you decide to open it? What do you enjoy most about it?

I was working part time at university as a lecturer and researcher and painting every spare moment to see if I could develop my work. The Creative Foundation had started buying up the derelict properties in Folkestone’s Old Town and I borrowed the keys to some of them and hung my paintings in the windows. After doing this for some months people started contacting me to buy my work. The income from my paintings started to rival my income from university. I was living in a flat above a shop in The Old High Street which became empty so I quit work at the university and took on the shop, making it my studio gallery. The rest is history. I love the fact that painting pictures is my job and that I’ve made an impact on my local community.

Is it true you’re a self-taught artist?

Yes, although I’ve learned from looking at others and been inspired by other artists. I lived with artist students when I went to university too, but most of them gave up as soon as they graduated. I’ve followed my own path really. I’m quite critical of my work but not so that it paralyses me but more that it reassures me that I’m improving!

Folkestone Harbour At Dusk

Folkestone Harbour At Dusk

What has been your proudest artistic achievement to date?

My biggest work was commissioned by the RFU (England Rugby). I entered a selection process amongst some very well known artists to produce a 3m by 3m painting for Twickenham Stadium to commemorate the players that had fought in the First World War. I did a lot of research and submitted a proposal; I would paint the entire 1914 England team as they were before their final game prior to the outbreak of war. I would darken the rose on the shirts of the men who were killed in battle. I was then chosen to complete the work (it took six months) and it now hangs permanently in the Royal Box enclosure. During the unveiling the CEO made a speech and said I was down-to-earth and easy to deal with. I was really proud of that.

Where have you exhibited your work? 

I tend to be kept very busy in my studio gallery in The Old High Street, Folkestone. I probably should try and exhibit elsewhere but I just can’t be in two places at once! I struggle keeping enough original work as it tends to sell very quickly and have a long list of commissions to do…

Fishermen on Hythe Beach

Fishermen on Hythe Beach

What does the rest of 2017 (and beyond) hold in store for you? 

Who knows?! The Folkestone Triennial is on which always makes me busier and then there’s Christmas which is always big for me. I’ve done a few demonstrations in schools this year which have been great fun and the interest in doing more of those is growing. I love painting in front of hundreds of school children, they get to see an adult prepared to make a fool of himself and some of them are really inspired by it. I love that.

Shane Record Paintings
19-21 The Old High Street
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