Pylons and Pianos Unrelated?: Not as Much as You’d Think

Sometimes you read an article or catch something on TV that stops you in your tracks and makes you wonder about life. I had two experiences like that yesterday which (on a small scale) blew me away.

The first was an item forwarded by a friend – I’m very lucky to have some smart, artistic friends who like to keep me on my toes, for which I’m very grateful. Left to my own devices I’d exist in a cultural desert.

Play me I’m Yours’ is an artwork by artist Luke Jerram in Tilberg, the Netherlands. This week, from 12-18 September 2011, 100 pianos will be scattered around Tilburg in parks and public places for anyone to use. Several are available for the public to decorate and personalise. How cool is that? Check out the website for more information and a map where the pianos are located.

Impressed that someone thought of the idea in the first place and town embraced the concept with enthusiasm,  I’m stunned none of the pianos have been vandalised or stolen. Holland is one of the few countries in the world where this could happen. It would not occur to the Dutch to steal or vandalise – unless it’s bikes, we’ve had three stolen – the pianos are there for the pleasure and enjoyment of everyone and are respected as such.

It’s a real enigma for me – the Dutch can be blunt, even rude on occasion, but they have a side to their cultural personality which is generous in spirit. See them at an Andre Rieu concert and you’ll understand what I mean.

The other thing grabbing my attention was a item on the BBC which intrigued me.

Have you ever given much thought to electricity pylons?

No, I didn’t think so. They are one of those things that are just, well, there. They scar the landscape and we block them out, accepting their existence as a necessity of modern life. We switch on our lights without thinking how the power is transported down the wires and into our homes.

Most of us anyway, although there are websites out there created and lovingly maintained by those who are passionate about electrical pylons. Who knew?

Recently the powers that be in the energy industry announced the pylons blotting the landscape of the UK for several generations need to be replaced. Back in May they launched a competition to find a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to the pylons which have marched across England’s green and pleasant land since the 1920’s.

The Pylon Design Competition aims to find a new, innovative design of pylon that will help carry electricity from power stations to communities. The competition is under the operation of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for the Department of Energy and Climate (DECC) and National Grid.

I realise I’m a bit behind the times on this but the great thing about running to catch up is by the time I stumbled on this rather thrilling life enhancing project, the shortlist for designs has been compiled. Check it out at

These two topics may seem random and completely unrelated, but actually they’re not.

In their different ways (one cultural and artistic, the other scientific and commercial) both have found a way to enrich the lives of everyone, feeding the spirit and soul in each of us.

Despite the global economic downturn there are people out there who understand and appreciate that nurturing the human spirit is essential. It is these seemingly small and unimportant details in our daily lives which enhance the world around us. It’s what defines us as human. And that’s why I’m quietly blown away.




About wordgeyser

Our anglo/american family used to live in four countries (USA, Canada, UK and the Netherlands) on two continents, separated by distance, time zones, circumstance and cultures. It has been a scary, enriching, challenging place to be. The only things guaranteed to get us through were a sense of humour and the amazing people met along the way. . . This year everything changed with a move for us from the Netherlands, – and a move along with us for our son and his wife from the UK – to Houston, Texas, the same city as our daughter. With our youngest in Vancouver, Canada, we are now all living on the same continent. How this happened, and more importantly why, will be the subject of this ongoing blog...
This entry was posted in Dutch Culture, England and Things English, Inspiration and Reflection, The Netherlands and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Pylons and Pianos Unrelated?: Not as Much as You’d Think

  1. Lol, see what happens when you encounter a comment-posting problem (on my end, not yours)?? You see the original (long) version and then the short, sum-it-up version!

  2. Such positive, creative news! There is hope for mankind after all…

  3. Such welcome news on both fronts! The Luke Jerram piano project is a fantastic idea: I enjoy the visual look of a piano almost as much as the music that can be performed on it. The thought of people wandering by, seeing a piano and then being inspired to play is heartening, regardless of whether it’s Brahms or noodling out ‘Chop Sticks’ or ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. And the electrical pylon design competition is truly a case of making more aesthetically pleasing what until now have been eyesores. There is hope for mankind, after all…

  4. expatlogue says:

    Loved the ideas of the two events covered in this post, but when I used the link provided to take me to the Pylon Shortlist it was not working – thought I’d let you know, as I’d appreciate the same if something similar happened on my blog. Us bloggers stick together 😉

  5. Kym Hamer says:

    That piano thing looks soooo cool. Makes me wish I could play.

  6. yarnsongyoga says:

    The two items are great – and good news for once!
    The piano artwork by Luke Jerram is actually travelling around the cities of the world. Last year in New York and London, I think…. where it goes next? I am not sure. Everywhere the pianos have been treated with respect and enjoyed by everyone. What was interesting in New York was that musicians are not normally allowed to play without a license but this was relaxed for the exhibition!

  7. Jane says:

    Wow… what a great idea to redesign pylons!

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