Autumnal piano hunting:
My piano photos
When I first wrote about the painted Cambridge street pianos I had yet to visit them. Well, since then I've been on my bike and I have now seen all 15 pianos! Here is what I learned:
1. They are found objects, destined for the scrap heap and then revived and painted by artists and street artists.
|Cambridge 'Leisure Centre', outside Cineworld|
3. And here is a 'live' piano.
This is 'art in use'. I like art in use very much. I think it is the raison d'être of all public art.
4. As Luke Jerram, the artist, said in an interview: "Recently, I've been making artwork out in the public domain. I think with an art gallery ... it's usually only a specific section of society that will go into an art gallery to have a kind of experience so I quite like delivering art into the public domain."
(Listen to the interview on Sydney radio, Australia 2009.)
5. I've learned that there are a whole lot of people who are fantastic pianists! They play classical pieces, jazz, folk tunes -- everything. And they play it beautifully. I'd like to be able to recognise all the beautiful pieces they play; my knowledge of piano tunes is woeful.
|Sussex Street (now in Cherry Hinton)|
6. Half of Cambridge's children seem to be able to play the piano! Or be prepared to give it a go! Their parents hover fondly.
7. 'Piano in use' is not only playing the piano, but also listening to it. Some pianos had a cluster of onlookers, a mini-audience who clapped enthusiastically.
|Grand Arcade, second floor|
8. Musicians and audience were not the only 'users'. Hello, fellow photographer.
|Under the Elizabeth Way Bridge|
9. Coming upon the pianos is done via sound. Armed with the piano map, I knew roughly where each piano was. At first, in the open space of a park, you don't see where the piano is. You look and look -- and then you hear it. You listen out for it more than you look out for it.
10. It's surprising how not loud a piano is. I estimate that in the open air I first heard each piano when I was about 10 meters away. Piano sound does not carry. It is quite intimate.
|Ditchburn Place (former maternity hospital, Mill Road)|
11. Street pianos are not busking. Street pianists don't play for money. Here are some buskers:
Here is busker-in-a-bin Charlie Caver, outside King's College:
And here are some street pianists:
|King's Parade, outside Senate House|
|In the background: Gonville and Caius College|
|In the background: King's College and tree|
|In the background: Senate House|
12. I realised that the piano as object was not as important as the piano as catalyst for interaction. So I stopped photographing details of the object.
|Silver Street bridge|
I started taking photos of the piano in its surroundings.
13. I not only discovered pianos but also some lovely sites for pianos.
|Garret Hostel Lane, the Backs (near public footbridge)|
14. One street piano is not the work. The work is all the street pianos put together. Each piano is connected to the others by invisible threads and people's knowledge that there is an overarching 'installation' that animates all of Cambridge. I wonder what those who don't know this think?
15. I learned that one way of getting to know Cambridge was cycling all over it on a piano hunt!
Sometimes finding the piano took me quite a while. Prime example: Cherry Hinton Park.
Can you spot the piano?
|Cherry Hinton Park|
No piano here.
Still no piano. But look: I found some art!
Then I rounded a corner and:
Two of them! One had migrated here from Sussex St (where people complained of 'noise pollution'...)
Pianos... and ducks! There were many nature sounds here: ducks quacking, water plashing down the weir, birdwings flapping.
|My favourite piano photo: White piano, white birds, green background|
Read my earlier post about the pianos here.
See other people's pictures and videos at the Street Piano website (and upload your own).