The People's Tower
THE PEOPLE’S TOWER, Olivier Grosstête and team
Sat 28th May – Mon 30th May 2016, Market Place, Newbury
In an amazing feat of public teamwork, passers by in Newbury Town Centre joined acclaimed French artist Olivier Grosstête and his team to create a fifty metre high cardboard replica of Donnington Castle, assembled by human power alone.
In this free event, members of the public were invited to turn up and help out with the building of a model of local visitor attraction, Donnington Castle, working entirely with cardboard boxes and sticky tape. Some participants were passers by and some had planned to come along and join in.
People could play a small part, or do as much as they liked. Families, adults, teenagers and children all took part and worked together with the artists and with each other. The final model was around fifty metres high.
“I think the point is to have people working together without really knowing each other, and in the end achieving something that is really, really impressive,” said Grosstête.
In the run up to the event, people signed up to take part in workshops, and many passers by spontaneously joined in on the day. At various points the castle was hoisted up by groups of people all lifting at once, with no cranes, no machines involved at all, so that another layer could be added to the bottom of the model. The castle was surprisingly ornate, with a signature gothic style window and turrets and layers of tiny windows.
Audience member Debbie Camp said: “We were box-making and putting the boxes together, anyone could join in, it was an open event. At various points it was hoisted up by groups of people and the kids loved it, they were running around underneath and joining it. It was so nice that they were able to do that and there wasn’t this health and safety freak out.”
The next day, audiences were invited to a planned demolition of the castle. In the event, high winds ‘felled’ the castle, but audience members were invited to jump on the boxes and a joyful flattening of the castle went ahead. The installation was an amazing feat of public teamwork and an enjoyable experience of a community interacting with an artist in a novel way.