Pippa Lattey: Piano Project

2017 – present

Photo: Pippa Lattey

In 2015, just before the Blue Cabin was relocated from its site on the North Vancouver Foreshore, Luke Blackstone removed Al Neil’s piano and took it to his Vancouver studio. During a mentorship project with Luke in 2017, artist Pippa Lattey began working with the piano.

Lattey writes:

“I’ve spent some time with this piano. I rescued many objects from inside, including marbles, bottle caps, even a knife. I noted the scratches, dents, and splashes of paint. The back of the piano is marked by staples, nails, and tape. Al Neil and Carole Itter hung household tools and assemblages there. Most of the keys still work, but many strings are broken and swing outwards.

“Inspired by the migration of the piano, and a particular photo of it lifted way up over the cabin by an excavator, I wanted to lift the piano up and move it around. I decided on a circular movement inside a square steel framework. These shapes are like the geometric image on the cover of Boot & Fog, the LP by Al Neil. The turning piano will activate sounds, responding directly to the weight and structure of the piano. I plan to automate the rotation following the tidal changes in Burrard Inlet. In this way, the piano’s movements will relate to its old home.

“As of March 2019, the framework supports the piano rotating 360 degrees, on eight handmade wheels rolling on large steel rings. My next step will be to automate the movement, and work with the sounds that come out of the turning piano. Along with the old bottle caps and marbles, I will be looking for the sounds that Al Neil left behind.”