London artist offers pianos in public spaces as music invitation

Posted on: July 13, 2009

In Saturday’s (7/11) New York Times , Sarah Lyall writes, “The piano was standing innocently near the Millennium Bridge, minding its own business except for a cheeky come-on—‘Play Me, I’m Yours’—printed on its side. For a 24-year-old Australian tourist named Lauren Bradley, it was as alluring as a sign saying ‘Free Chocolate.’ … Ms. Bradley then walked on, but the piano remained, ready for its next customer and its next song. (Rachmaninoff? ‘Chopsticks’?) All around London its fellow pianos were waiting, too—30 of them in all—part of an interactive art project meant to challenge people to come out of their urban insularity and also to provide some summertime music. ‘They’re out there to get people talking to one another and to claim ownership and activate the public space,’ said the creator of the project, Luke Jerram, an artist who lives in Bristol. He previously brought incarnations of it to Birmingham, England; São Paolo, Brazil; and Sydney, Australia. ‘It’s a blank canvas for everyone’s creativity.’ The London project is scheduled to last until Monday and has cost about £14,000 (or a bit more than $22,000), Mr. Jerram said. The biggest obstacle was the city’s tangled, multilayered bureaucracy, which required him to obtain a separate music license for each location.”

Posted July 13, 2009