One man with a raft of ideas ...

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CAN this custom-made raft built with a piano on board make it all the way to London?

Artist Ben Cummins, caught here on a leisurely jaunt through Wigan, is hoping to paddle and be towed along the country’s canal network, while he entertains visitors with his piano and guitar along the way.

Ben Cummins passes through Wigan's canal system on his raft with a piano

Ben Cummins passes through Wigan's canal system on his raft with a piano

The 40-year-old, who calls himself a “free spirit,” and may remind cinema-goers of Johnny Depp’s gipsy Roux in the film Chocolat, decided he wanted to transport the old piano from its base in Liverpool, back to his home in East London.

Using the raft, originally made out of reclaimed furniture by artist Ben Parry in Liverpool, he secured the piano on the open deck and started his journey more than a month ago.

He is currently between Crooke and Wigan’s top flights, hoping volunteers will help him on his way.

Ben, a father-of-one, said: “The raft was built by Ben, and it was going to be demolished, so I was on a mission to save it. But it was impractical to sail so I started restoring it last September.

“It has sunk a few times, so I have had to work hard to stop it from sinking fully and complete my journey,

“I was inspired by a dream where I was playing a piano. And that is where it all began. I have had to repair the piano a few times, but some beautiful performances have been happening on this raft!

“I do get people intrigued. I remember once opening my cabin door, brushing my teeth and there were a few people stood outside, asking what I was doing? I get asked so much about it.

“And it looks beautiful at night as I have LED strips so it lights up in the evenings.”

Ben has installed a motor in the raft, but prefers not to use it.

He said: “I am still looking for volunteers to help tow me along as it would be good to get help through the top flight.”

Ben, who is a freelance lecturer for music and visual sound at Brighton University, is no stranger to creativity.

He was one of the founders of the Flash Mob craze and his ideas were used by T-Mobile for the first commercial advert using this phenomenon.

He also founded the Pillow Fight Club, which is a kind of flash mob using pillows.

To follow Ben’s journey visit www.pianoraft.wordpress.com.

To volunteer to help tow the raft, call 07957 924858 or e-mail iambencummins@yahoo.co.uk