Debby Akam

Playing (after the flood) 2016

Personal experience is linked with wider themes of transience, loss and renewal, providing a way of exploring feelings about being at home next to a river that sometimes floods.

It was Gary’s idea to save the piano. I was so shell-shocked by the flood that I just wanted all the damaged stuff out of the house. The piano was so heavy, it was good to have some strong people in the house moving things. They smashed the shiny outer casing of the piano to make it easier to get through the doors to the skip. Then Gary started playing the strings like a harp, with the builders all around him, moving things. He did a sort of Dada improvisation on the strings for about 10 minutes. It was still in tune and sounded great so he said, “keep it”. Neither of us could play the piano, so when it was entire, it just sat there waiting for a player. The piano tuner couldn’t understand why the felts weren’t indented very much by the hammers striking them.

Now that it’s without it’s French polished shell, it represents liberation. We can play with it because there are no expectations, and because we saved it. It represents being set free, and set on a new path by the flood waters.