Painting beyond black and white
Find out why these local artists “vandalised” the pop-up pianos you might have seen around town.
If you are wondering why there are pretty pop-up pianos in random locations around, it is because of Play Me, I’m Yours, an ongoing event that provides platforms for self-expression and art for everyone.
Play Me, I’m Yours was inspired by an artwork created by British artist Luke Jerram, which later culminated into a street piano movement that has toured internationally since 2008.
Organised by The Playtent and the Singapore International Foundation, Singapore is the first Southeast-Asian country to host this celebration of art and music this year. The inaugural event in Singapore also features a local twist: 25 local artists were roped in to work with 25 social welfare organisations (SWOs).
Amongst the 25 local artists were a bunch of youths, such as full-time artist Jaxton Su, 28, and freelance illustrator/artist Marina A, a 23-year-old third-year visual communication student at Nanyang Technological University.
We spoke to Jaxton and Marina to find out more about their involvement in Play Me, I’m Yours.
When Youth.SG visited Jaxton at Evangel Family Church last Wednesday, he was busy putting the finishing touches on his piano.
His theme for his project? Kids portrayed as heroes, as he was inspired by the name and the mission of Cape of Colours, an organisation that empowers students to develop their full potential through education. Jaxton also added speech bubbles along the sides of the piano, so the kids could pen down their ambitions.
While most kids are adorable, they can be a real handful sometimes. With a chuckle, Jaxton shared that he had a challenging time working with the younger kids. “They spilled the paint all over and we ended up scrubbing the floor [of the Evangel Family Church],” said Jaxton, who specialises in oil paintings.
Troubles aside, Jaxton felt it was a good experience, though he admitted that working with the older children was easier because they could paint better.
Jaxton said: “I think the most memorable part was looking at them write and discuss their ambitions. Although their ambitions might change, it’s still amazing [that] they have something to work towards. It’s also heart-warming to see the kids getting excited about painting the piano.”
For local design artist Marina A, who was approached by Playtent, working with the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped (SAVH) was an eye-opening experience.
“Working with the [visually handicapped] was really interesting. They’d knock on things and they would use their hands to feel everything, including the piano,” said Marina, who specialises in hand painted illustrations.
For her piano, she used gemstones to recreate the tactile letters in the Braille system, allowing users to put themselves in the shoes of the visually impaired.
Decorating a whole piano was also something she’d never done before. As a full-time student, Marina had to set aside time from her busy schedule to work on her project, such as repainting the whole piano, as it didn’t turn out as expected. Planning and executing the the concept for the piano was also difficult for her.
Nonetheless, she hopes that people will be able to figure out that the piano is related to SAVH, and better understand the visually impaired through her piano art.
Play Me, I’m Yours is running in selected neighbourhoods, void decks, parks, commercial and art spaces until Apr 6.