Artist Charles Newingtons idea to make
a giant chalk-cut hill figure was directly inspired by the
3,000 year old Celtic White Horse of Uffington and is a fusion of
this uniquely British way of landmarking with the primal "animist"
series of images he had been working on for a decade. This landmark
artwork is dedicated - and freely given - to the people of Folkestone.
Thanks to the generosity of the Tory Family Foundation Charitable
Trust, an area of grazing land on Cheriton Hill was selected as the
ideal location, and in 1998 application was made to Shepway District
Council for planning permission to erect the artwork. With great support
for the project coming from many local residents and the local press,
and with some opposition from environmental bodies and others, a Public
Enquiry was held in Folkestone in 2001. A white canvas mock-up of
the outline figure was displayed on the hillside for 3 weeks in August
1999, in order for the artist to prove the feasibility of creating
the figure and to test public support. In March 2002, the Secretary
of State for the Environment recommended that the project should be
granted permission to proceed.
With Charles Newington directing by short-wave radio, a team of volunteers
organised by Richard Beaugié re-layed the canvas "template"
on the hillside in September 2002, having first cleared an area of
invasive gorse and brambles. Once the Artist was content with the
appearance of the image from different vantage points in Cheriton
and Folkestone, more volunteers cut and translocated the turf from
under the outline, re-planting the turf on a specially prepared area.
In April 2003, a small group of volunteers made final
preparations of the image surface before the slabs arrived. In 2 weeks
during May 2003, a magnificent team of Gurkhas, stationed at Shorncliffe
Barracks in Folkestone, provided all the manpower to lay the white
slabs and secure them to the underlying chalk of the hill with stainless
steel anchor pins. This completed the major construction phase.
The whole cost of construction has been met from private
resources, and there has been no financial contribution from Shepway
District Council. Other than the costs incurred by the Public Enquiry,
the ratepayer has had to pay nothing for this unique hill figure.
The finishing touches to the artwork were completed
with the placing of the eye of the Horse directly over a powerful
positive earth energy point.
A time capsule, containing the names and good wishes
of numerous supporters of the Horse, was buried deep behind the Horses
heart on 18th June 2004, in a ceremony attended by the sitting Member
of Parliament for Folkestone, a past High Sheriff of Kent, and the
founding members of The Friends of the Folkestone White Horse.