A unique ‘mega-instrument’ constructed in a forest on private land at Wilson’s Downfall has garnered a 2017 Art Music Award, not surprisingly for Excellence in Experimental Music.
The Piano Mill is a copper-cladded cube structure with two tiers of flooring – each housing eight upright ‘pianos with a past’ – and adjustable louvres to alter the instrument’s sound.
The award was earned for the installation’s opening performance, Erik Griswold's All's Grist that comes to the Mill with the building playing a pivotal role. On Easter Sunday 2016, 16 pianists performed the new composition in the midst of an installation that also included a movement artist, and video artists projecting piano-playing action from inside the mill onto its exterior walls.
Architect Bruce Wolfe accepted the award on behalf of Clocked Out (the event’s composer and artistic director) along with himself and wife Jocelyn who had researched the project that stands on their land. Now a director with renowned firm Conrad Gargett, Mr Wolfe discovered while researching his architectural thesis in 1975 that there was a time around the end of the 19th century when Australia possessed more pianos per head of population than any other country.
The Piano Mill is an ode to those decaying pianos around Australia, 16 of which were sourced from the nearby area in varying degrees of repair. They’ve since received little in the way of restoration, in an aim to evoke the weathered sound of the Outback and a sense of nostalgia.
The Piano Mill also received a 2017 Queensland Architecture Award for Small Project Architecture.
Unfortunately the ‘instrument’ is not open to the public. Future performances are planned but booking is via the Piano Mill’s Facebook page.
Here’s a slice of the Easter event that earned the award…