Play a piano in a void deck

Street piano artwork Play Me, I'm Yours hope that people can connect with one another through art.
Street piano artwork Play Me, I'm Yours hope that people can connect with one another through art.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Art installation with 25 pianos displayed across Singapore is a chance for anyone to perform in public

If you have dreamt of tickling the ivories in public, then this art installation is sure to tickle your fancy.

Play Me, I'm Yours, a street piano artwork by British artist Luke Jerram, was launched at OCBC Square at the Singapore Sports Hub on Sunday. Twenty-five pianos are dotted across the island from now until April 6 in void decks, parks and commercial spaces, each adorned with the open invitation and instruction, "Play Me, I'm Yours".

Jerram, 41, tells The Straits Times: "Pianos are a bit like YouTube or Facebook, a blank canvas for everyone to be creative and that's what gives it its magic. It's the opportunity for ordinary people to suddenly become street performers and share their creativity with one another."

The very first installation of 15 pianos was commissioned for Birmingham in Britain in 2008. It has since toured internationally and reached more than 10 million people worldwide, with more than 1,500 pianos installed in 50 cities.

The installation in Singapore is its first in South-east Asia. It is presented by The Playtent, a purveyor of art, theatre and education, as well as the Singapore International Foundation under its new Arts for Good initiative.

Play Me, I'm Yours is an arts project which aims to "foster inclusive communities by raising awareness and acceptance for people with disabilities, the aged and youth-at-risk", says Ms Jennifer Lewis, chairman of the Arts for Good advisory panel, at the launch where all 25 pianos were gathered.

  • VIEW IT / PLAY ME, I'M YOURS

  • WHERE: Various locations around Singapore, from Marine Parade Community Club to Biopolis

    WHEN: Till April 6

    INFO: For locations, opening hours and community events and performances, go to streetpianos.sg

The donated pianos were turned into works of art by 25 artists working with 25 social welfare organisations, including Children's Cancer Foundation and Singapore Association for the Visually Handicapped.

After the event, a few pianos will be given to some of the outfits while others will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to these organisations.

The Playtent director Rebecca Lee notes at the launch: "Singapore is a piano-playing nation - in the worst possible way. As children, we are pushed to achieve our Grade 8s, few then continue to pursue the piano for enjoyment, let alone a career. It is our hope that through Play Me, I'm Yours, Singaporeans old and young will rediscover their love for the piano and connect with one another through art."

One of those who made a beeline for a piano after the launch was student Elise Khor, 15. She says: "When you put it on the street level, it's really fun. It takes the intimidation out of performing onstage."

Jerram is excited to see how the pianos will be received here and urges those who engage with them to upload their photos and videos to streetpianos.sg as that "acts as a sort of legacy for the art project".

He reveals that over the years, the project has even led to seven or eight marriages, including a couple who fell in love over impromptu piano lessons at Liverpool Street Station in London. "They actually had that street piano at their wedding. So you could be next."

It promises to change lives in other ways as well. Jerram says: "It's been really good for all these charities to work together and collaborate, it might be the first time they're doing so. At the end of the project, the pianos will be given away to the community. Everyone wins, really. I like art projects where everybody wins."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2016, with the headline 'Play a piano in a void deck'. Print Edition | Subscribe