A Sense of Place– Harbour railway
Completed by Folkestone Primary Academy – February 2015

Rug People
Rug People

Rug People –Found at former Folkestone Harbour Railway station, approx. CT20 1TX.
E-mail Hannah Conroy for entry: hannahconroy@creativefoundation.org.uk

Children can also visit the harbour café to view WW1 photos.

From Folkestone Artworks

Varga Weisz’s five-headed sculpture ‘Rug People’, its body wrapped in blankets and cardboard, appears stranded and forelorn. Arrived as if by magic, the group huddles together on a carpet, which covers the disused railway tracks of the old harbour station. This, with its history of bringing First World War soldiers to the harbour to embark to France, as well as being the terminus for the Orient Express until 2008, provided the major inspiration for Varga Weisz’s work. When you are in Folkestone’s old abandoned harbour station you are standing on a site that has witnessed the full range of human experiences and emotions over the years. As the Kent terminus for the Orient Express it has seen many excited travellers indulging in some up market leisure time but it has also been the place of unimaginable fears and foreboding as the final stop in Britain for the soldiers destined for the battlefields of Europe in the First World War. The stations dilapidated platforms and overgrown tracks are the last vestiges of this unique history and the inspiration for ‘Rug People’, a sculptural installation by Paloma Varga Weisz. The ghostly echoes of the orient seem especially poignant to the artist since on her journey to Folkestone she witnessed the refugee camps in Calais that house those that a fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and beyond. As her artist father was forced out of Nazi occupied Paris during the Second World War escaping from war and persecution is part of Varga Weisz’s own family history as well. Carrying a group of five unusual passengers a carpet has magically appeared on the stations tracks, as if from some unknown fairy tale. In the popular imagination a flying carpet is not only associated with the orient but also unrestricted travel and freedom. Here however the carpet is firmly grounded and its voyagers downcast holding blankets and huddled together this group are not in the midst of some carefree journey, but seemingly stranded. This sense of abandonment is reinforced by the sculptures base made from sticks, rugs and cardboard which echoes the precarious shelters of migrants and the homeless.

Suggested activities to link to KS1 and KS2 Art Curriculum:

  • Compare other artwork in Folkestone which is linked to WW1 and talk about different representations of war by different artists. Which do they think is the most effective? Which do they prefer? How are the works similar or different?
  • Design own sculpture (using sketching and/or modelling materials) to show person or people waiting at the abandoned railway station. Make links to migration, soldiers, families left behind and the Orient express.
  • Design a new base for the sculpture using natural materials that children have found outside e.g twigs, leaves, branches, pebbles, shells, stone, wood.
  • Draw, paint or sketch the faces in detail to show the emotions of the rug people.
  • Create a new sculpture for the railway station in 100 years’ time – who could be stranded?

KS1 Art and Design Curriculum:

Use a range of materials creatively to design and make products,

Use drawing, painting and sculpture to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination,

Develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space,

Learn about the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers, describing the differences and similarities between different practices and disciplines, and making links to their own work.

KS2 Art and Design Curriculum:

Improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including drawing, painting and sculpture with a range of materials [for example, pencil, charcoal, paint, clay],

Learn bout great artists, architects and designers in history.

Suggested activities to link to KS1 and KS2 Literacy Curriculum:

  • Children can write stories based on how the rug people may have suddenly appeared on a magic carpet, what might happen to the rug people at night time, journeys on the orient express, what might happen if the rug people were freed from their base, journeys of the soldiers from the harbour station to France during WW1, imagine what else could arrive as if by magic.
  • Question writing (P4C) – Children to generate questions that they would like to ask the rug people to find out about their experiences and emotions.
  • Hot seating – Children can empathise with the rug people and role play being in their position.
  • Descriptive writing to describe the faces of the rug people and consider their expressions and emotions.

KS1 Literacy Curriculum:

Write narratives about personal experiences and those of others (real and fictional),

Write about real events,

Write sentences with different forms: question.

KS2 Literacy Curriculum:Write for different purposes in narratives, creating settings, characters and plot),In narratives, describe settings, characters and atmosphere.

Suggested activities to link to KS1 and KS2 Geography Curriculum:

  • Children can learn about the journey from Folkestone to France by rail and explore past, modern and future methods of transport that travellers could use for the same journey.
  • Research the artist ‘Paloma Varga Weisz’ and find out about her life in Dusseldorf.
  • Research areas of France that soldiers from Folkestone would have fought in. Compare these areas in the past and present.
  • Links to ‘Orient Express’ – Learn about the routes of the Orient Express, past and present.

KS1 Geography Curriculum:

Understand geographical similarities and differences through studying the human and

physical geography of a small area of the United Kingdom, and of a small area in a

contrasting non-European country,

Use world maps, atlases and globes to identify the United Kingdom and its countries,

as well as the countries, continents and oceans studied at this key stage.

KS2 Geography Curriculum:

Locate the world’s countries, using maps to focus on Europe, concentrating on their environmental regions, key physical and human characteristics, countries, and major cities.

Name and locate counties and cities of the United Kingdom, geographical regions and

their identifying human and physical characteristics and land-use patterns; and understand how some of these aspects have changed over time.

Suggested activities to link to KS1 and KS2 History Curriculum:

  • Research the importance of the harbour railway station during WW1.
  • Find out about the lives of specific soldiers who would have travelled to France from the harbour station.
  • Compare and contrast images of the railway station from WW1 and now.
  • Discover the history of the orient express, including the original train from 1883.
  • Links to migration and the placement of Folkestone.
  • Look at timeline of events at the harbour station and WW1 (Numeracy link).

KS1 History Curriculum:

Learn about significant historical events, people and places in their own locality,

Find out about events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally.

KS2 History Curriculum:

Study an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge,

Complete a local history study.

Suggested activities to link to KS1 and KS2 Numeracy Curriculum:

  • Investigate use of shapes and patterns in the rug people sculpture and a range of others to compare. Children can then use their own shapes and patterns to create a similar sculpture.
  • Look at timeline of events at the harbour station and WW1 – Putting dates into the correct order.
  • Use train times for the orient express to order times and events.
  • Read and record analogue and digital train times.
  • Calculate distances of train journeys – Link to soldiers travelling to France from harbour station and journeys on the orient express.


KS1 Numeracy Curriculum:

Sequence events in chronological order using language [for example, before and after, next, first, today, yesterday, tomorrow, morning, afternoon and evening],

Recognise and use language relating to dates, including days of the week, weeks, months and years,

Tell the time to the hour and half past the hour and draw the hands on a clock face to show these times,

Recognise and name common 2-D and 3-D shapes, including:

2-D shapes [for example, rectangles (including squares), circles and triangles]

3-D shapes [for example, cuboids (including cubes), pyramids and spheres].

KS2 Numeracy Curriculum:

Solve problems involving converting between units of time,

Identify 3-D shapes, including cubes and other cuboids, from 2-D representations,

Complete, read and interpret information in tables, including timetables,

Convert between miles and kilometres.

Suggested activities to link to KS1 and KS2 Science Curriculum:

  • Investigate materials used to make the rug people sculpture and compare to a range of other sculptures. Discuss why the artists may have chosen these particular materials. Distinguish between the objects and the material from which it is made.
  • Find out the best materials to make a waterproof and windproof sculpture and identify and compare the suitability of a variety of everyday materials, including wood, metal, plastic, glass, brick, rock, paper and cardboard for particular uses.

KS1 Science Curriculum:

Distinguish between an object and the material from which it is made,

Identify and name a variety of everyday materials, including wood, plastic, glass, metal, water, and rock,

Describe the simple physical properties of a variety of everyday materials,

Compare and group together a variety of everyday materials on the basis of their simple physical properties,

Identify and compare the suitability of a variety of everyday materials, including wood, metal, plastic, glass, brick, rock, paper and cardboard for particular uses.

KS2 Science Curriculum:

Compare and group together everyday materials on the basis of their properties,

Give reasons, based on evidence from comparative and fair tests, for the particular uses of everyday materials, including metals, wood and plastic.