Fremantle artist Jacob Butler brings pianos to life in Brookfield Place

Artist Jacob Butler with his dog at Brookfield Place. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Artist Jacob Butler with his dog at Brookfield Place. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

FREMANTLE artist Jacob ‘Shakey Jakey’ Butler is transforming Brookfield Place’s famous street pianos into a unique West Australian work of art.

Three pianos have become Mr Butler’s blank canvases; he’ll live painting them over the next few days, transforming the pianos into artistic reflections of three of his favourite WA destinations.

Mr Butler said he was inspired by WA destinations he and his wife Ange travelled to.

“It reflects the rich colour palette of our oceans, our north and the eclectic array of wildlife we’ve seen,” he said.

Combining the pristine blues of the waters off Rottnest Island with the rich red ochres of the Kimberley, Mr Butler is turning the idea of the traditional art work on its head in front of a live and moving audience.

“For it to be entertaining I have to add an element of risk, so I’m really trying to cover a lot of work which is a bit of risk in front of a lot of people, I basically have 20 minutes to do each dog,” he said.

“I’ve painted in front of people before, but this has been my favourite because I’ve been able to bring my dog Banjo, and he takes care of the public while I get to paint.”

Nicknamed Shakey Jake by his former colleagues on the Fremantle wharfes, he was once known for experimenting on their hard hats, having a distinctive free flowing style due in part to a tremor that he has lived with since birth.

“Rather than being held back by the tremor, it has become an integral part of my style and personality,” he said.

Mr Butler said growing up in the Goldfields gave him a connection to the outback and animals, which had influenced his art.

“There wasn’t any TV or video cassettes; I just used to draw everything, emus, kangaroos, mac trucks anything around me,” he said.

“I like to bring that out in my work.”