Saturday, June 20, 2009


To imprint the landscape on a work of art somehow, rather than copy it in paint or describe it in words, seems a natural instinct for a landscape artist. Photography does this of course, but there are other approaches, like Roger Ackling's traces of concentrated sunlight on driftwood. The grains of sand embedded in beach paintings by plein air painters like Manet suggest a next step that might have been to leave the canvases outside for a time to weather before adding paint to them. Artists painting found objects, like the driftwood used by Alfred Wallis, may feel that they are soaking up the spirit of a place through their materials. A musical analogy to this would be the approach Ross Bolleter and the World Association for Ruined Piano Studies take, in finding and making music on old abandoned pianos. Bolleter writes:

"A piano judiciously left in the open and exposed to all weathers will ruin. All that fine nineteenth-century European craftmanship, all the damp and unrequited loves of Schumann, Brahms and Chopin dry out, degrading to a heap of rotten wood and rusting wire. The piano returns to aboriginality, re-enters the earth where the chirrup of its loose wires blown about by the desert Easterly is almost indistinguishable from the cicadas' long electric blurt.

"In which case it's not necessary (or desirable) to burn or bury a piano in order to ruin it. A Ruined Piano should be an object trouve. However, I cannot eradicate the fantasy of a piano theme park - ancient Ronischs and Bechsteins hidden in the reeds at the edge of Camel Lake or behind the Banksia being lovely watered through the long harsh West Australian summer, nurtured gently towards ruin by members of WARPS."

A sanctuary for ruined pianos has now actually been created at Wambyn Olive Farm near Perth.

Alison Croggan has a good review at the Theatre Notes blog of Bolleter's concert / installation Ruined in Tasmania earlier this year (source for the photograph above). If you want to hear a ruined piano, the WARPS website has some examples of Bolleter's music, e.g. Myo Sei / Dark Sky.


Tara Dillard said...

Oh so wonderful.

Thank you for knowing to post this.

Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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