Pierre Ardouvin

The Dockers' Tower

2010 - project abandoned in 2015

The commission

The group of commissioners wanted to commission a contemporary work in order to enhance two emblematic sites of Le Havre's working class history: the Dockers' Tower and the Trade Union House. Based on the key dates of the local trade union struggle, these are sites with strong symbolic and historical significance which concentrate around them a certain number of places associated with the life of Jules Durand or, more broadly, with the history of the Le Havre workers' struggle. These sites, located in two different districts and both built in brick, were to be linked by this commission, notably as two physical landmarks in the city. The Dockers’ Tower was nevertheless to be the main site with the creation of a work that takes into account its vertical character and its past function. The aim is to make known the popular history of Le Havre, as well as to cultivate the memory of its struggles and in particular those linked to Jules Durand.

The artwork

The artist Pierre Ardouvin proposed a project to renovate the bell tower of the Dockers’ Tower by covering it with a glittering roof, which will be brightly lit at night. By day and by night the tower would appear in the distance like a lighthouse, a signal. At the foot of the tower, a paved square was to be laid out to create a large square space. On the cobblestones, very large metal beams lacquered a bright red, the colour of workers' struggles were to be placed. Their masses of coloured metal also refer to the surrounding elements of the port: the cranes, the tracks and the enormous gantries. These beams would be used as benches, with solid wooden seats attached to them. A large string of light bulbs will surround the tower and illuminate the square. With this particular lighting, the artist wanted to evoke the idea of a neighbourhood square and a moment of celebration, an idea that echoes the strong popular identity of the Eure neighbourhood. The modification of vehicle access and parking areas, the uprooting of certain trees and the planting of new ones in their place would clear the space around the square and make it more pleasant and open. At the same time, the buildings in the background of the square would be more visible.

The artist

Pierre Ardouvin's highly diversified practice probes the interstices of collective and individual memory through multiple installations, sound devices, sculptures, drawings and collages.