Pretty Green X Dead Buni - John Lennon Piano

10 Dec 2021

As part of our John Lennon x Pretty Green collaboration, we were delighted to be able to work with artist and musician Ben Kealey (aka Dead Buni). We managed to catch up with him for a chat about art, his creative process, and specifically how he developed the John Lennon piano.

Kealey has quite a vivid memory of his first experience making art: “I remember painting a big black hole on a crisp white piece of paper around the age of 2 or 3, waiting impatiently for the poster paints to dry, then putting it on the floor in the hope that I could jump into it! Needless to say, Warner Bros cartoons clearly played an influential role in my understanding of art and physics.”

The impetus to create Dead Buni apparently came after Kealey witnessed his two passions, bikes and pianos, being thrown away as firewood. He wanted to revitalise interest in these beautiful instruments that would otherwise be discarded: “The piano has been a constant in my life since the age of 5,” he explains. “As I got older I wanted to see how I could apply different finishes, and change the shape and form to modernise.”

His aim is to “celebrate the craftsmanship that goes into building a piano.” Kealey’s first piano project was entitled ‘Pistols at Dawn’. “After being offered many [pianos] over the years I finally accepted one with the view to transforming it.” The result was a restored upright, graffitied in a full Union Jack, with ‘God Save the Queen’ emblazoned across the back “as a nod to Mr Vicious and the boys.”

When asked about his inspiration: “It’s difficult to say who or what specifically influences my art. For me, art is a cerebral experience in the sense that I absorb shapes, colours, sound, emotion, and textures all day, every day. All of this gets amalgamated into a simple idea.

“Inspiration can come from anywhere for me. Architecture, maths, music, product design, urban culture, the natural world and even the simplicity of colour is enough to inspire a design. My wish is that Dead Buni art might influence someone to create something themselves, or perhaps even take up the piano!”

When it came to the Pretty Green x John Lennon collaboration, we wanted to create something extra special to celebrate the enduring legacy of this rock’n’roll visionary, and who better to ask than Kealey to assist us with that?

“Ideas and concepts are always floating around in my subconscious. The one for a John Lennon tribute has been in there for some time, so when given the opportunity to realise it in conjunction with an incredible brand like Pretty Green, it was impossible to say no.”

“Following the initial brain wave of an all-White upright echoing the Imagine Grand Piano, the concept was then created as a 3D model render utilising Cinema 4D.” explains Kealey. “Once the idea was finalised with all parties, the sourcing of the piano could begin.”

“The prepping of the case didn’t take too long as this one was in relatively good condition. Two stage priming and four top coats carried out by a close friend and industry renowned classic car restorer leaves me with a fantastic base to add finishing touches to. There were a number of iconic logo designs that we considered for the front upper panel - and we finally decided on the peace sign. The final result is a thing of beauty.”

The Pretty Green X John Lennon piano by Dead Buni is currently on display at our Manchester store on 19 King Street. Shop the collection online and in store while stocks last.

© 2021 Yoko Ono Lennon. Lennon and John Lennon are trademarks of Yoko Ono Lennon.