2 of Harps and how their hometown Folkestone in Kent inspires them musically

On the Kent coast, Folkestone is home to Karina and Adel, 2 of Harps, and has provided inspiration for their music for many years and continues to inspire up and coming musicians and artists. 

Folkestone has a reputation for being such a creative place to live and work. It even has its own ‘Creative Quarter’, which encourages artists to rent studios and start businesses. 

What is the history of Folkestone?

Folkestone town has a substantial historical heritage and was inhabited by the Anglo–Saxons and predecessors. Folkestone became prestigious when it gained the status of being a Cinque Port Town.  A Cinque Port was initially formed for military and trade purposes. Folkestone was one of several coastal towns set up for this purpose. Still, more importantly, it is located where the crossing to the continent is narrowest and, therefore, in the past, the fastest point to get to France. Consequently, no matter at what point in history, Folkestone has always had a great significance in travel and for being a gateway to Europe and the world.  

Adel said, “2 of Harps songs often relay a journey of some sort – whether it is self-realisation or heartbreak. Their songs all have a different story to tell, which is what makes their style so unique.”

Folkestone during the war

During both World Wars, Folkestone harbour was of strategic importance, and many boats were sent out from its little cove. It also played host to over 5,000 Belgian refugees and saw over 15,000 refugees arrive in England.  

In World War 2, thousands of school children were evacuated to the town but were soon deployed elsewhere in 1940 as the coastal town became a target.  It then became prohibited, and all the residents were evacuated. Folkestone became an area of defence with tank traps, barbed wire and artillery units set up on the cliffs.  Due to this, it was under constant attack, and bombs inflicted significant damage on homes and families were torn apart. The population sustained many injuries.  The colour Red appears in many artworks around the town.  This colour is used to commemorate those who fought and gave their lives in service of their country.

Karina said, “With Folkestone as our backdrop, we hope to raise awareness of life issues through our music.  We strive to make a difference by donating our time to good causes.  I draw inspiration for my harmonies in the form of wartime and folk music.  I love the sound of the close-knit group harmonies, and they inspire me to create that same feeling and sound but in a refreshed and modern way.”

Evidence of the war can still be found in the bunkers and shelters along the seafront. 2 of Harps created a promotion photoshoot on the ‘concrete apron’ situated in The Warren between Folkestone and Dover.  The apron was used for loading artillery and vital supplies onto the warships for the army based in France.  The Warren is now used for recreational purposes.  People now walk along the coastal defences to enjoy the magnificent views of the sea and the French cliffs on a clear day. 

Adel and Karina added, “Many of our musical compositions are nautically themed, and they have a close relationship to the sea.  Growing up in Folkestone, the sea has been our playground.  We enjoy nothing more than water sports such as sailing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle-boarding in our free time. Our home overlooks the sea, and we beach clean to contribute to keeping the oceans clean.”       

It took many years to restore Folkestone to its former glory as it was left in such a bad state after the war.  However, now it is an attractive place for locals and people across the nation due to some incredibly unique events and tourist attractions such as the Folkestone Triennial. And now the harbour arm is home to restaurants and bars that include a Champagne Bar in the old lighthouse.   

Adel said, “Karina and I draw inspiration and ideas from many different forms of art.  Through our music, we want to create pictures and generate a real sense of emotions.”

Folkestone and art

There are many artworks dotted around this town. Some of them are about the turbulent history that Folkestone has encountered. Others are there for residents and visitors to look at and contemplate.  Folkestone provides a space for people to enjoy art in open spaces and ensures that children see art without going to a gallery.  

Karina said, “As the 2 of Harps, we strongly believe that art in any form should be accessible to all, regardless of anyone’s situation.  This is why we volunteered and ran many harp workshops in local schools and places where people might not have had the opportunity to use a harp.”

The Folkestone Triennial Arts Festival has provided many permanent artworks in Folkestone. It gives people of all ages the chance to enjoy and engage in hands-on activities centred around art.  

Folkestone and travel

Since its opening, The Channel Tunnel has become another central part of Folkestone life due to its only fixed link between Britain and the European mainland.  The tunnel link has made Folkestone especially important in the UK due to the international connections it creates.  This tunnel photo represents the link it has made to the world for touring artists and musicians. 

Karina said, “Adel and I use The Channel Tunnel to travel to international gigs, which we love being part of.  To ensure our instruments are a little lighter and ‘travel’ well, we have invested in carbon fibre travel harps. (You can read more about our harps here) https://2ofharps.com/biography/ 

The harps have specialist flight cases, so the instruments are protected whilst travelling.  We love spreading our passion for music, art and Folkestone, especially when abroad.  We share our cultural background and in the form of music, something we are truly passionate about.”

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