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The piano at the elms

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.
Chapter in Book
Type of thesis
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.
Otago University Press
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