New York, Sydney, San Francisco…and now Belfast. A fantastic interactive installation of ten artistically decorated pianos arrives on the streets of the city on August 14.
Play Me, I’m Yours was created in London by artist Luke Jerram in 2008 and has been touring key cities since then. The ten pianos in Belfast have all been decorated by local artists, craftspeople and community groups. Each design is unique but all have one common theme – an invitation to “Play Me, I’m Yours”.
As part of August Craft Month, designer-makers Heather Wilson and Claire Concannon have decorated two of the pianos located at St Anne’s Square and the Linen Hall Library.
Speaking at the launch, Heather said: “ I thought it would be fun to create something that was not only interactive in terms of music but also in terms of art. I loved the idea of incorporating a sense of play into the three dimensional fabric of the piano, where the public could literally be caught up in an intriguing visual experience while enjoying the freedom to make music.
“In my practice, I enjoy exploring materials and mediums that captivate my attention… photography, light and shadow, reflective metals, optical glass spheres that flip the world on its head, shifting fabrics that give the illusion of ghostly movement.
“In this case the materials were carefully chosen to allow the observer to interact with the both the interior workings of the piano and the outside comings and goings of the environment and the public. I see this as a visual reflection of the musical sounds played by each participant in interacting with the piano. The music reveals a little of the creative beauty inside the player allowing them to share with others who are willing to pause and witness each unique musical moment in time.”
The installation was brought to Belfast by Ross McDade, who is production manager of the Brian Friel Theatre at Queen’s University.
“I came across one of the Street Pianos in London last summer outside St Paul’s Cathedral. There were two pensioners playing the piano and they’d take breaks and chat and then play again. This went on for two hours and this little audience gathered around them; people joined in and played, parents and their children had a go. And I just thought ‘we really need to have this in Belfast’.”
He says that he contacted artist Luke Jerram and the project took off from there. The idea for the project began in Luke’s mind several years ago when he was in the laundrette.
“Why is it that when I go to the laundrette I see the same people each week and yet nobody talks to one another? Why don’t I know the names of the people who live opposite my house? Play Me, I’m Yours was designed to act as a catalyst for strangers who regularly occupy the same space, to talk and connect with one another.
“Disrupting people’s negotiation of their city, the pianos are also aimed to provoke people into engaging, activating and claiming ownership of their urban landscape,” he added.