Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. Living in the UK but working internationally since 1997, Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the world. He is now known globally for his innovative arts practice and large scale public artworks.
With many of his artworks in permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Wellcome Collection in London, he also tours his art installations to art festivals and museums. In 2019 alone, he had 117 exhibitions in 22 different countries.
In 2019 he set up and funded both the Dreamtime Fellowship to support recent graduates in his home city of Bristol and the Bristol Schools Arts Fund to support secondary schools in Bristol impacted by austerity.
His artwork the Museum of the Moon is one of Luke’s most successful arts projects that has caught the public’s imagination which so far has been presented in different ways, more than 150 times in 30 different countries. Experienced by more than 10 million people worldwide, the artwork has recently toured India with the British Council, been presented at the Commonwealth Games in Australia and exhibited in Aarhus, Denmark for the European Capital of Culture. Last year it was presented at Glastonbury Festival and even on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in Blackpool.
Learning from each artwork and moving on, Jerram is continually re-inventing his arts practice. As his practice is well known yet quite diverse, Luke Jerram was described by Bloomberg Television as “probably the most famous artist you’ve never heard of”.
Over time however, narratives connecting these different artworks have emerged and continue to evolve. Published in 2020 the new book Luke Jerram: Art, Science & Play provides a fascinating insight into his evolving practice . With over fifty colour photographs the publication delves into the mind of an artist known for his imaginative ability to combine art, science and play. The book can be purchased here.
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Since 2008 his celebrated street pianos installation ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ has been presented in over 70 cities and been enjoyed by more than 10 million people worldwide. Launched by the French Minister of Culture in Paris and Mayor Bloomberg in NYC, the installation has received press coverage in almost every newspaper and television station around the globe. Luke has installed over 2000 street pianos, but this art project has also been copied by different organisations, creating a global movement of pianos being installed in public places for people to play. The concept has now become part of culture.
In 2014, giant installation Park and Slide made international headline news, creating 500 news stories reaching an estimated 1 billion people worldwide. As a consequence of the success of this artwork, several commercial companies sprung up (not affiliated with Luke Jerram), installing temporary slides in cities of America, Europe and Australia. Hundreds of thousands of pounds, have also been raised by charities touring their own urban slides across the UK.
Jerram’s Glass Microbiology artworks are in museum collections around the world including The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC), Shanghai Museum of Glass, Wellcome Collection (London) and Corning Museum of Glass (USA). In 2020 his sculpture of COVID-19, was used extensively worldwide by the press, to communicate the nature of the pandemic. Jerram’s sculptures are also respected in the scientific community with features in The Lancet, Scientific American, BMJ and on the front cover of Nature Magazine. In 2015 his sculptures were presented alongside the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the Artscience Museum, Singapore. In 2010 Jerram won the coveted Rakow Award for this work and a fellowship at the Museum of Glass, Washington.
The Sky Orchestra is another critically acclaimed large scale touring project, which grew out of Europe’s largest arts award – a three year NESTA Fellowship. With the Bristol Old Vic, In 2020 he collaborated with musicians of Massive Attack and Portishead, for a performance over Bristol. In 2013 they flew over Derry/Londonderry for UK City of Culture. The Mayor of London and LIFT commissioned Sky Orchestra to fly over London to celebrate a year to go until the London Olympics 2012. In 2007 they launched the Sydney Festival and in 2006 they were commissioned by the RSC and Fierce to fly over Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Jerram has also created unusual gift artworks for his friends and family. In 2006 he made a Talking Engagement Ring for his girlfriend. The ring has his proposal etched onto the outside of it which can be played back using a miniature record player. In 2011, the Talking Ring project was presented at MOMA, Museum of Modern Art, NYC.
In 2008 Luke took part in the live science communication competition, Famelab. Out of 360 competitors from across the UK he got through to the final. Had an artist been crowned the best science communicator in the country, it could have caused some embarrassment. The competition have since changed their entry rules creating a special ‘Luke clause’ stating ‘artists working on science related themes’, may not apply.
Jerram’s ongoing research of perception is fuelled by the fact that he is colour-blind. He studies the qualities of space and perception in extreme locations, from the freezing forests of Lapland to the sand dunes of the Sahara desert. New ways of seeing and new artworks emerge from these research field trips. Works such as Retinal Memory Volume, Sky Orchestra and the Impossible Garden have emerged from Jerram exploring the edges of perception. Published in 2009 by The Watershed, ‘Art in Mind’ is a book written by Jerram that tracks much of his early perceptual research.
Many of Jerram’s most successful artworks leave space, for either the public, curators or other artists to be creative. Examples include In Memoriam, Play Me I’m Yours, Museum of the Moon, Park and Slide and Withdrawn. Jerram builds and manages specialist teams of engineers, craftsmen and technicians to help him realise his works. From composers to glassblowers, medieval musicologists to hot air balloonists. In this way, he says “I’m only limited by my imagination in what can be produced. Anything is possible.”
In 2000 Jerram taught in war torn Mostar, Bosnia and he continues to lecture both in the UK and abroad. His most notable lectures include those at The European Space Agency, The Banff Centre, ROM – Royal Ontario Museum, ICA – Institute of Contemporary Art, Corning Museum, Wellcome Collection, Royal Collage of Art, The Ruskin School of Art, University of Washington, Nagoya University.
Luke Jerram lives in Bristol UK with his wife and two children.
Organisations from many different fields have commissioned Luke’s artwork since he began his career.
British Council, Pan Am Games, The Mayor of London, United Nations, National Trust, English Heritage, Commonwealth Games 2014, Commonwealth Games 2018, University of Salford Engineering, Warwick University, DFCS, Institute of Physics, Channel 4, Canary Wharf Group, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, The Polish Cultural Institute, University of West of England, BBC Radio 3 and 4, Discovery Channel.
Arts Organisations: European Capital of Culture 2010, European Capital of Culture 2017, Art Centre Melbourne, ROM, Jerwood Centre, De la Warr Pavillion, Compton Verney, NESTA, Site Gallery, Arnolfini, ICA, Watershed, UK City of Culture, RWA, Witte de With, Arts Catalyst, Museum of Glass Washington, Museum Micropia, National Glass Centre, UMOCA, Futurecity, Grizedale Sculpture, Birmingham Museums Trust, Corning Museum of Glass, Museums at Night, All Rights Reserved, Provincial Domain Dommelhof, Brighton Festival, Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, INSITU and Without Walls.
Wellcome Trust, UK Space Agency, EPSRC, Leverhulme, Pirbright Institute, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), KREBS – University of Sheffield, Cosmo Caixa, Bristol and Bath Science Park, ISVR University of Southampton Phaeno Science Museum, Singapore ArtScience Museum, The Science Museum London, MUSE Trento,Think Tank, at-Bristol, University of Bristol and The Association for Science and Discovery Centres.
Theatre and Music Organisations:
RSC – Royal Shakespeare Company, Sydney Festival, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Kimmel Centre, LIFT, City of London Festival, Concurs Maria Canal, Helsinki Festival, Incubate Festival, Colston Hall, Fierce Earth, St.Georges Bristol. Lakes Alive, Provincial Domain Dommelhof, Brighton Festival, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Greenwich+Docklands International Festival and Without Walls.