Friday 7 February 2020

Piano Lessons

16cm x 15cm artist’s book. Cloth bound cover in red or blue with rubber stamped hand and tied
with two-colour twine. Inside covers are lined with vintage sheet music. Inside consists of a
removable double-sided concertina of pianola-roll paper folded into 8 to make 16 pages.
The concertina is 48” long, the length of a standard piano keyboard.
The title and imagery are created by hand cut rubber stamps, printed in red and blue.
Embossed with maker’s mark and signed and numbered. Brighton 2020

This double-sided concertina is created from a folded sheet of vintage pianola paper (Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, 1802). The rubber-stamped hands become increasingly contorted throughout the sequence as the player struggles to finish the piece, the fingers tangling completely at the finale.

This book contains an autobiographical narrative based upon my early recollections of practicing the piano and becoming increasingly frustrated with my inability to get my small fingers to stretch where they needed to be. The rubber-stamped hands are drawn from my own hands on the keyboard, exaggerated as the concertina unfolds. The book seeks to capture the love of listening to beautiful piano music and the realisation that this is unattainable for most of us.
From around 1880 a standard piano keyboard measurement has been fixed at 48” this replaced various piano-like instruments that traditionally had narrower keys. The average European adult male hand span is about one inch wider than that of a European adult woman meaning about 87% of women piano players can’t reach a tenth on a standard piano, which is a problem if you want to play Liszt among others. Hearing a piano played expertly can be a moving experience and the appreciation of the hours of repetitious practice that’s needed to acquire this skill is enhanced by one’s own lack of practice and inability.

The title ‘Piano Lessons’ also appears on the cover in Russian, as the book was first exhibited as part of Love and Music a collective artists’ book exhibition (during March 2020) in the House-Museum M.E. Saltykova-Shchedrina, Kurov, Russia 2020.

This book was exhibited in Kirov, Russia in March 2020