Play Me, I'm Yours

Once there were cows, now there are pianos

Play Me, I’m Yours was created in London by artist Luke Jerram in 2008 and has been touring key cities since then. New York, Sydney, San Francisco... and now Belfast. An interactive, city-wide installation of ten artistically decorated pianos arrives on the streets of the city on August 14.

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.

It's not the first time a project of this nature has come to Belfast. In 2007 an international public art exhibit entitled CowParade - created by Zurich-based artist Walter Knapp - arrived in town. In common with Play Me, I'm Yours, a selection of cow sculptures were decorated by local artists and displayed throughout the city.

London-based artist Luke Jerram dreamt up the idea when in the laundrette. Writing Luke Jerramon the Play Me, I'm Yours website, Jerram posed the question: '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,' he added. '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.'

The installation was brought to Belfast by Ross McDade, 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,' recalls McDaid.

'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 a 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’.'

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.

'I thought it would be fun to create something that was not only interactive in terms of music but also in terms of art,' said Wilson at the launch of the project in Belfast. '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.'

For more information on Play Me, I'm Yours log on to http://www.streetpianos.com/belfast2010/ or www.craftni.org.