Preparations iPreparations i

Preparations i

September 20, 2021


23 artists make a ‘preparation’ each for a grand piano. Three sets of musicians are then tasked with constructing individual live performances with the adaptable unit of preparations.

→ for a more detailed rundown of the concept click here


The first Late Works: Preparations took place at Cafe OTO on a Yamaha C3 grand piano. The staff at OTO added a couple of limitations for the artists, emphasising no sharp edges or disintegrating materials.

On the night of the show Aga Ujma added a rule that there should be no vocal mic used and instead the voice should be used unamplified as if influencing the strings with the voice.


Musicians: Finlay Clark, Aga Ujma & Max Syedtollan

Artists: Tild Greene, Jack Bidewell, Louis Eager, Katharina Fitz, Daisy Harvey, Joe Highton, Siyi Li, Laila Majid, Angus McCrum, Faye Milburn, Amanda Moström, Tawfik Naas, Isobel Neviazsky, Ralph Parks, Hamish Pearch, Jonas Pequeno, Amba Sayal-Bennett, Tom Sewell, Gwenllian Spink, Stanley Tilyard-French, Aitor González Valencia & Oona Wilkinson.

Concept, Curation, Filming & Editing: Joseph Bradley Hill • Sound: Luca Consonni, mastered by Oli Barrett

With special thanks to Fielding, Jackson & Abby!

→ click here to jump to the collaborators section at the bottom
Finlay Clark - Overture Mother Solo

Performance One:

Finlay Clark - Overture Mother Solo

Finlay Clark - Overture Mother Solo

For the preparation of the piano, Finlay placed the majority of the preparations close to the hammers in the central space of the piano, so that they could easily reach into the belly to shuffle the sculptures around whilst still playing with the other hand. Isobel Neviazsky’s “Figure”, Daisy Harvey’s “Clover” & Jack Bidewell’s “middlegame” were three of the preparations sat in the centre of the piano, creating a harpsichordal sound. Finlay often shuffles these around during the performance, as well as Tild Greene’s “Hounds of Love Tastes like Gum”, a metal Smint case with metal prongs and lychees stuck on and a secret model figure shut inside.

Early on in the piece, Finlay picks up Ralph Parks “The Duke and I” (inbetween picking up Louis Eager’s “Piano Keys”) to pluck the treble strings whilst simultaneously playing a refrain on them.In the middle of the performance, Clark reaches deep into the piano to shift Tawfik Naas’ “Seed” from where it was sat in one of the piano’s iron cavities, leaving it to teeter on the strings.

A few of the larger sculptures sat much closer to Finlay throughout the performance (Tom Sewell’s 5000-year-old bog wood “Peg”, Angus McCrum’s “Höhepunktinstrument” & Laila Majid’s “Vertebra 2”), and near the crescendoing finale of the piece they are all used to interact with the strings closest to the pins.

Aga Ujma - Through the thick of her bush

Performance Two:

Aga Ujma - Through the thick of her bush

Aga Ujma - Through the thick of her bush

For the performance, Aga didn’t touch the preparations once they were in place, and opted to shuffle them around by hitting the keys at various strengths. The bottom section of the piano was set up to have snare-like qualities by combining Tawfik Naas’ “Seed” and Katharina Fitz’s “Rendezvous” together. The middle section - like Finlay’s - had many sculptures inside to rattle on the strings. One of the most effective preparations in Aga’s performance is Siyi Li’s “Untitled” stickers which were used to weave and attach a £10 note to the strings. The result is a set of peculiar vibrations that extend the sound. If you have ever tried to use the new pound notes to play an LP on your record player you will have heard a similar sound.

Ujma frequently uses Joseph Bradley Hill’s “Knucklebone”, a red Tupperware from the Cafe OTO kitchen with two black dice inside, to contribute to the snare noise, though midway through the performance it gets bounced up and wedged sideways between the strings - when you hear Aga slamming the lower octaves of the piano she is trying to dislodge the Tupperware from its string! Daisy Harvey’s “Clover” almost came flying out of the piano at this point. From here until the end, Aga uses her voice as a preparation, rejecting the use of a vocal mic to allow her voice to merge with the sound of the piano.

Max Syedtollan - Höhepunktinstrument

Performance Three:

Max Syedtollan - Höhepunktinstrument

Max Syedtollan - Höhepunktinstrument

Max prepared the piano by dividing it into several sections: percussion in the bass strings, “harpsichord” in the centre and traditional piano/bells/shakers in the treble. Max began the performance theatrically by walking towards the piano shaking Gwenllian Spink’s “Cloch”, a resin coated mottled aluminium circle surrounded by small bells, dropping it into the piano before beginning his piece. Tild Greene’s “Hounds of Love Tastes Like Gum” was instrumental in the “harpsichord” sound, with the metal prongs weaved between several strings.

In the middle of the performance, Max stands up with Laila Majid’s “Vertebra 2” in hand, walks round to the back of the piano and begins to smash the sculpture into the strings, thumping and scraping the 3D-printed-Alien-vs-Predator-inspired-spine-bone and his hand across the surface. After some sporadic (but calculated) plucks with his hands, Max accidentally broke Angus McCrum’s “Höhepunktinstrument” - in rehearsals he had figured out that the pinecone wedged in a head massager could alter the tone of the note the further you pushed it into the string, and one of the rubber bands snapped in the process. From his proclamation of the preparation’s death “it’s f*cked now” to the end, Max mostly stays seated, slowly disassembling the rest of the preparations from the piano in a satisfyingly manic finale.

All three pianists wedged Hamish Pearch’s “Please water the plants please” in-between two of the bass strings - a black resin cast of a piece of toast - to create a dull flat thud. Faye Milburn’s “Pleuche” was also attached to the strings in all three performances - Faye’s “piano jewellery” is comprised of a silver necklace joining two felted croc clips together. The clips bite the strings and the chain jingles and buzzes around across the surface.

made for this Preparations on a poster

Artwork Titles:

1. Tild Greene - Hounds of Love Tastes Like Gum, 2021
2. Jack Bidewell - middlegame, 2021
3. Louis Eager - Piano Keys, 2021
4. Katharina Fitz - Rendezvous, 2021
5. Daisy Harvey - Clover, 2021
6. Joe Highton - Bow hair bungee straps, 2021
7. Siyi Li - Untitled, 2021
8. Laila Majid - Vertebra 2, 2021
9. Angus McCrum - Höhepunktinstrument, 2021
10. Faye Milburn - Pleuche, 2021
11. Amanda Moström - Through the thick of her bush, 2021
12. Tawfik Naas - Seed, 2021
13. Isobel Neviazsky - Figure, 2021
14. Ralph Parks - The Duke and I, 2021
15. Hamish Pearch - Please water the plants please, 2021
16. Jonas Pequeno - Overture Mother Solo, 2021
17. Amba Sayal-Bennett - Ivorine, 2021
18. Tom Sewell - Peg, 2021
19. Gwenllian Spink - Cloch, 2021
20. Stanley Tilyard-French - Tube Man, 2021
21. Aitor González Valencia - Untitled, 2021
22. Oona Wilkinson - Lungbud, 2021
23. Joseph Bradley Hill - Knucklebone, 2021