Box-building fun in Norwich as work starts to create cardboard replica of St Peter Mancroft Church

Norfolk and Norwich Festival director William Galinsky and head builder Christophe Goddet with students from the Open Academy building boxes for the The People's Tower event on Saturday. 
Photo by Simon Finlay. Norfolk and Norwich Festival director William Galinsky and head builder Christophe Goddet with students from the Open Academy building boxes for the The People's Tower event on Saturday. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
5:44 PM

Boxes galore are being created all this week at The Forum in Norwich ahead of a giant cardboard recreation of St Peter Mancroft Church being built this weekend.

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Groups from Age UK and the Open Academy building boxes for the The People's Tower event on Saturday.
Photo by Simon Finlay.Groups from Age UK and the Open Academy building boxes for the The People's Tower event on Saturday. Photo by Simon Finlay.

About 1,000 boxes will be used to make a 22-metre high replica of the historic landmark, and community groups and individuals have been busily working away to make sure all the building blocks are reading for construction day on Saturday.

Called The People’s Tower, the project is the first of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival’s free outdoor events and everyone is invited to get involved in building both the blocks and the tower.

The cardboard creation has been designed by French artist Olivier Grossetête who has created similar towers in other parts of Europe, and Christophe Goddet is the head builder who will oversee the construction on Saturday.

Christophe said: “The idea is to build something altogether with all types of people and all ages and abilities.

NNF 2014 - The People's Tower in the first free outdoor event of this year's festival.NNF 2014 - The People's Tower in the first free outdoor event of this year's festival.

“It’s about discovering your inner child by creating and playing with the boxes and building the tower.

“On the day of building we hope hundreds of people will get involved.”

He said it will take between five and seven hours to create the cardboard masterpiece, and then after it has been on display for a couple of hours people will be able to take part in pulling the tower down.

“It’s like a child making a sandcastle at the beach and then jumping on it,” said Christophe.

“The first time I was involved in the project was in October in Marseille, and I had not had so much fun for a long time.”

Among those involved in the box-building this week are NNF volunteers and groups from Age UK, Open Academy, Culture Works East, Fairstead Primary School and the RUGroom from City College Norwich.

Norfolk and Norwich Festival artistic director William Galinsky has also been helping to make some of the boxes and is excited to see the Norwich project take shape.

He said: “This was something that I saw in Marseille when Marseille was European Capital of Culture and it really captured my imagination, so we asked Olivier Grossetête if he could build a Norman church for us out of cardboard.

“We will build the tower on Saturday, and the head bell ringer at St Peter Mancroft has said he wants to ring the bell as construction starts and also just before the tower comes down. I think it is going to be the most extraordinary event.

“It’s the kind of thing that can only happen at the festival. Christophe was talking about The People’s Tower being about finding your inner child, and so much of our outdoor programme is about the inner child and appealing to people of all ages and walks of life.”

The People’s Tower is part of the festival’s programme of free outdoor performances that are sponsored by Lafarge Tarmac. It has been created as part of the IN SITU network which brought the Streetwalker Gallery to last year’s Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

• The People’s Tower box building workshops are taking place at The Forum everyday until Friday 10am-12.30pm and 2pm-4.30pm.

The tower is being built throughout Saturday outside the Forum in Norwich. Building starts at 10am and the tower is expected to be built by 3pm. The cardboard monument will then be toppled over at 6pm.

People can just turn up to get involved in the workshops and Saturday’s tower building.

For more information visit www.nnfestival.org.uk

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