For the Love of Music

Some of my happiest childhood memories revolve around my grandmothers piano. It was always out of tune and I was absolutely terrible regardless, but it was a fun little escape to imagine myself as a musical prodigy playing to thousands of adoring fans. This of course changed from day to day...most days I was busy being insanely jealous of Doogie Howser M.D. because I too wanted to be a prodigious doctor. That's a story for another day.

Nevertheless, there's something about pianos that makes them accessible and inviting, even if the best we can knock out is a slightly off-kilter version of chopsticks (that's where my talent begins and ends!) Earlier this year, Sydney got in touch with its musical side with the 'Play Me, I'm Yours' project, part of the Sydney Festival that strategically scattered 30 pianos around the streets of Sydney, encouraging many brave folk to belt out a few tunes of their own to an unsuspecting public.

Yesterday, the music carried on, but to a far more poignant tune. In the vast industrial halls of Cockatoo Island's Turbine Shed, renowned Australian sculptor Ken Unsworth has created a grand tribute to his beloved wife Elisabeth, who passed away last October. Ken had spent many years away from the art scene, devoting all his time to his ailing wife.

His return to the spotlight of the art world is bittersweet, but a triumph of spirit and devotion; the industrial interior has been converted into purpose-built rooms, including an exquisite ballroom that hosted a banquet in memory of Elisabeth. Other rooms host kinetic and multimedia installations, but perhaps the most touching of installations is Ken's tribute to his wifes incredible musical talents, with dozens of miniature grand pianos suspended from the ceiling.

To honour her life,
and to honour the gifts that she had,
that she gave to me
and she gave to other people.

- Ken Unsworth

I simply can't imagine a more beautiful tribute. It reminds me of the breathtaking work of Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger, but with a sense of both love and loss (not to mention a hefty team of structural engineers who worked behind the scenes to turn Ken's vision into reality!)

The exhibition will remain open for the rest of June. Admission is free, and ferries depart regularly from Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island. The Turbine Shed on the lower island and is open daily 10am - 5pm.


KLBK said...

oh my :( how entirely emotional. Not the post to read while husband is out at sea!

What a wonderful childhood memory for you :) Who's your favorite pianist ?

Ali said...

How lovely!

xnapoleonx said...

Piano's are pure magic. I just love it when I'm able to let all the stress and worry of the day flow into the keys.

Ms. Jenn said...

I love music. It's like a part of yourself is flowing out into it.