Pianos for High street is a community project that aims to encourage art and music into the community of Swansea through the up-cycling of old pianos. 'The People's Pottery Piano' is a collaborative project with artists Mark Stephenson and Nazma Ali of the HigherStreet International, Tom Morris, Rufus Mufasa, Unity and Rowena Griffiths.
The artists have decorated the piano in beautiful mosaics made from recycled blue willow pottery donated by people across Swansea.
The launch opened with Christopher Scamp, otherwise known as the Piano Man, playing to commuters on the afternoon of 28 March. The performances gave the piano a great start in its new musical and artistic life at the railway station, where now anyone can come and make music on it.
The vision of 'People’s Pottery Piano' was to recognise and celebrate the unique history of Swansea’s world-class ceramics, largely under-studied and under-celebrated outside Wales. The launch performances connected this history to contemporary stories through an original script that combined bilingual beat poetry, song, looping and hip hop beats. Elements from the script can be read on the piano, as part of the mosaic artwork.
Stewart Keay, Station Manager for Swansea commented: “This is a fantastic community led project which will provide a real connection between the people of Swansea and the station that serves the city. We are proud to be the gateway to the city and we hope that the kind donation of the piano to the concourse will be a real delight for users at the station.”
Pianos for High Street is the brainchild of musician and student Rowen Griffiths. Rowena won a small startup grant for the project by public vote at Swansea Soup, an ideas competition which was part of the Trouble Maker's Festival 2017.
Rowena said: “I am so excited about this project, which is all about engaging people in our public spaces through a love of the arts. With their current focus on the old Swansea potteries, collaborating with the HigherStreet International has brought something extra to the project. I urge everyone in the High Street community and the wider Swansea area to come together and help the city to gain a better understanding of an under-celebrated part of its industrial heritage.”
Work on the second piano in the Pianos for High Street project is already underway. Artist Rhiannon Morgan worked with pupils from Ysgol Crug Glas at Volcano, to create artwork out of sensory materials, and through sensory play. The materials and textures that the pupils played with will be applied to the piano, as well as their painted artworks and handprints. The artwork and idea for the piano was inspired by artist Arwen Roberts’ sensory play workshop.