Poplar residents halt artist’s plans to drop piano off Balfron Tower

18:00 09 July 2014

Balfron Tower, photographed at art event in November

Balfron Tower, photographed at art event in November

Carmen Valino

Plans to drop a piano off an iconic Poplar landmark have been thwarted by residents.

The Balfron Tower in St Leonard's Road, Poplar.The Balfron Tower in St Leonard's Road, Poplar.

Turner Prize-nominated artist Catherine Yass had been scheduled to drop the instrument off the top of the 26-storey Balfron Tower – but a petition signed by 254 locals has forced organisers to change their tune.

Retired nurse Jean Brown, 66, of nearby Burcham Street, was concerned about the “danger and utter stupidity”, and amazed the idea had even been suggested.

“People seem to have finally come to their senses,” she said. “The idea shouldn’t have even been thought up in the first place.

“To have it discussed by the board was ludicrous.

“Harca employs anti-social behaviour officers and if chucking a piano off the Balfron Tower isn’t anti-social behaviour, I don’t know what is.”

Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association (Harca), which manages the Grade II-listed housing block, said no date had been set, insisting it would have taken place “some time over the summer”.

But a statement from the Alison Jacques Gallery, where Ms Yass exhibits work, suggested the event had been booked at the St Leonard’s Road tower for Tuesday.

A Harca spokesman confirmed plans had been pencilled in to drop the piano “as part of a community workshop looking at how sound travels”.

Andrea Baker, director of housing for Poplar Harca, said: “I met with our residents on Friday and received the petition.

“We’ve listened to their concerns and, as a result, the project will not be going ahead.”

The plans were first discussed with the public at an estate board meeting on Monday, June 30, but were only vetoed after the petition was received on Friday.

Ms Yass’ works include the well-known 2000 Tate Britain Christmas tree.

The artist declined to comment save to confirm the event had been cancelled “at the residents’ request”.

Do you live in the Balfron tower? What do you think of a piano being thrown off?

Email your views to or call 020 8477 3824

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