Jersey residents encouraged to play street pianos

Martin Coxshall
Image caption Martin Coxshall said the project would cost about £4,000

Half a dozen old pianos are to be restored and put out in public in Jersey as part of a new event.

Jersey Street Pianos came about after the organiser saw a picture of someone playing an old piano at a train station in the UK.

Martin Coxshall is working with a number of Jersey artists to create seven distinct pianos.

They will be spread across the island from the airport and high street to a boat and market.

"I want to remove that barrier of fear people have of public performance," said Mr Coxshall.

"It's about letting people know there is no do not touch sign. We want people to get up and touch, to join in and play."

Image caption One piano will have a Mexican Day of the Dead theme

Piano themes and locations

  • They will be in the central market, King Street, Liberty Wharf, Airport, Harbour, and on board a dazzle ship in the harbour
  • Themes include a gorilla, maritime heritage, dazzle, wild west and Mexican day of the dead
  • The project is costing about £4,000 including paint, restoration, tuning and insurance
  • Funding has come in part from the Jersey Arts Trust and Economic Development
  • Special permission was needed to allow more than two people to perform in public around the pianos

One has been designed to look like Durrell Wildlife Trust gorilla and Island Games mascot Indigo.

Lesley Lawrence, artist and volunteer at Durrell, said this was the strangest project she had ever done.

"It can sometimes take a long time for an idea to come to you, but with this I'd finished in about two hours.

"It was strange painting a piano but I showed it to Indigo's keeper and he said it actually looked like Indigo, not just a random gorilla," she said.

Image caption The work to paint the Indigo piano took artist Lesley Lawrence about two hours
Image caption One of the pianos will have a wild west hoedown feel and be placed in the Central Market
Image caption All of the pianos were donated to the project and are being restored by volunteers

Mr Coxshall said there was a concern about vandalism, but it was worth the risk.

He said: "With smaller houses and less money, acoustic pianos are getting less popular, you are seeing them less.

"I want people to have a chance to play and for there to be a renewed love of the acoustic piano."

Image caption There have been 11 pianos donated so far but some are beyond repair and could be turned into shelves or artworks
Image caption Some of the donated pianos are more than 100 years old

Piano expert Jon Scriven, from Island Music, said collectively the pianos had not been repaired, tuned or cared for in over 100 years.

The Jersey Street Pianos will be out in public from 21 June for about a month.

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