Starting in Birmingham, UK back in 2008, then spreading to São Paulo, Sydney, and a myriad of cool cities around the world, funky street pianos have been popping up in conspicuous public spaces, free for anyone to play or spectate. These pianos come from UK artist Luke Jerram‘s ongoing installation ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’. The piano is used as a device to engage the public, build community, and enhance individual and collective awareness within the public realm.
“The idea for ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ came from visiting my local launderette. I saw the same people there each weekend and yet no one talked to one another. I suddenly realised that within a city, there must be hundreds of these invisible communities, regularly spending time with one another in silence. Placing a piano into the space was my solution to this problem, acting as a catalyst for conversation and changing the dynamics of a space.”
The pianos have come full circle back to the UK with 50 golden pianos installed across London in honour of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. These pianos have really shaken up routine street life, from facilitating successful marriage proposals to uncovering hidden new talents. Jerram’s project has even inspired a 16-year-old to organise a spin-off in Victoria, Canada. We love pop-ups for their ability to help us rethink and reappropriate our urbanscape. They often engage and heighten our senses and the ones that connect with our musical sensibilities, such as these pop-up pianos, are always extra fun!