The piano at the elms
Moffat, K. (2015). The piano at the elms. In A. Cooper, L. Paterson, & A. Wanhalla (Eds.), The Lives of Colonial Objects (pp. 81–86). Dunedin: Otago University Press.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13284
Just before the bustle of the Tauranga business district begins, beyond a sprawling overpass junction, there is a tranquil haven of serenity enclosed by a white picket fence. I push open the gate and wander down a curving shell path which admits me to the faithfully preserved historical precinct that is The Elms. When I step into the parlour a shaft of morning sunlight illuminates the gleaming rosewood case of an 1855 grand piano. The wood is polished to a high gloss, the grain apparent beneath the veneer, golden tones alternating with rich brown. Two octagonal carvings decorate the side of the instrument, a pattern repeated on the scrolls framing the brass pedals. Three tapering, but sturdy, circular legs end in a simple castor, but begin with wing-like carvings that attach them to the sinuous curves of the body. To the twenty-first-century New Zealand eye the spiral at the centre of each 'wing' resembles a koru. The top of the piano is shut, the lid a repository for a display of ornaments and knick-knacks. A Chinese plate, the photograph of a woman in Victorian dress, a small leather card case and a lorgnette rest on a cream cloth painted with flowers, ferns and mushrooms. Such is the mirror-like lustre of the wood that the photograph is reflected in the piano's surface, as are the faces of the family portraits on the wall behind.
Otago University Press
© 2015 Copyright with the author