Pianist pianist where are you? was completed in early 1965 and almost immediately exhibited at the newly-opened Gallery A in Paddington. I was about to sail to Europe aboard the Fairstar, having won the Helena Rubinstein travelling art scholarship the previous year. This work is the second piece to use a musical instrument theme. 1964 also saw the creation of Kindly shoot the piano player and Gemini; all employed piano parts and Gemini was one of my panel of five works in the Rubinstein scholarship exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales that year.
I had been working with collage since the early 1960s, extending my painterly language by adding found objects collected mostly in Sydney’s streets and lanes, all broken and discarded – torn posters, broken furniture pieces, crushed and rusted tin and bits of plastic kitsch. I have always collected objects and surrounded myself with them as a source of visual stimulus. The unexpected relationships between disparate objects often form a poetic thread of creative possibility. The meanings that cling to the edges of battered objects, often poignant and evoking powerful emotions shaped by the imagination, are both what these works are about, and the manner of their making.
Pieces of a small organ and the innards of a Bluthner piano dumped in the bush could be, in themselves, the subject for a work, but at the time it was the excitement of finding the materials and of re-constructing them after an imagined model that interested me. The transformation of materials, the metamorphosis, informed by a poetic sensibility, is the key to creativity.
Colin Lanceley 2002
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002