Murray Bridge Piano Sanctuary
an ephemeral sculpture and instrument park in Murray Bridge
Pianos are a significant part of Australia’s cultural heritage, being a social and entertainment fixture of nearly every colonial household. Over the past century, many of these instruments have exchanged hands and travelled vast distances, resulting in rich and detailed stories and experiences for each piano.
Although seen as cultural icons, it is often the case that once pianos move beyond the traditional understandings of playability and functionality (becoming aged and derelict), they are neglected and ignored. To address this, and conserve them in contemporary contexts, numerous piano sanctuaries have been set up as resting places for the forgotten instruments. Notable examples of this include Wambyn Olive Grove Ruined Piano Sanctuary in York, WA established by pianist Ross Bolleter, and the award winning Piano Mill (www.thepianomill.com.au), a collaboration in country NSW between musicians Erik Griswold and Vanessa Tomlinson, architect Bruce Wolfe and arts advocate Jocelyn Wolfe. In such places, people can play pianos to their hearts’ content, and admire the degrading instruments’ changing appearances and soundscapes in the natural environment.
The Piano Sanctuary features a variety of aged and derelict pianos, gradually degrading and being reclaimed by natural environmental processes. Over time, this decay effects the structure and appearance of the instruments and, as a result, the sounds produced.