Monday, 13 July 2009
As I’ve been getting to know the City over the past couple of weeks, I've caught sight of something quite unexpected: a number of rather battered second-hand pianos, stenciled with brightly-coloured patterns, scattered serendipitously in the city’s public spaces, popping up everywhere from Liverpool Street Station to St Paul’s. Clearly a hit with everyone from commuters to school children, on my wanderings, I’ve observed all manner of open-air recitals, impromptu sing-a-longs, the odd rendition of chopsticks, and even a little extra piano practice.
These ‘street pianos’ are part of Play Me, I’m Yours a simple but brilliantly entertaining participatory work by artist Luke Jerram, which has been touring internationally since 2008, and has already visited Sydney, Sao Paolo and erm... Bury St Edmunds. Here in London, the artist has worked in partnership with Sing London and the City of London Festival, to install 30 second-hand pianos across the city on streets, in parks, public spaces, train stations and markets, for members of the public to play and enjoy. The aim of the project is to provide the stimulus to bring communities together, and to shake up the same old day-to-day routines of those who live and work in the city: for Jerram, Play Me, I’m Yours is “a catalyst for strangers who regularly occupy the same space to talk and connect with each other.” What’s more, the work provides an opportunity to engage with and activate the spaces of the city in a new way, helping city-dwellers to “claim ownership of their urban landscape.” Of course, as I've observed over the last couple of weeks, it's also quite simply a lot of fun.
Sadly, today is the final day you can check out the project in London, but you can read more about the project, watch films of the pianos in action, and find out about future destinations on the website here.
[Photo via Luke Jerram's website]