Oil Fountain

Oil Fountain is a giant fountain sculpture which flows with engine oil instead of water, intended to highlight how contemporary society is reliant on oil and the need to move away from this dependency. It is designed to stimulate debate and discussion about the topic and the need for action.

Creating an interesting tension, the artwork is both very beautiful and slightly disconcerting. With the smell and the sound of the oil falling into mirror-like pools, the artwork looks extraordinary in different lights and settings. Surrounding architecture and visitors reflect in the mirrored surface of the oil.

The sculpture has been created from oil and recycled acrylic, with details of plants and animals made extinct as a consequence of the industrial revolution and humanity’s impact on nature, laser-cut into the surface.

First Presentation at Bristol Cathedral
Oil Fountain is being publicly presented for the first time from 14th June to 2nd July, at Bristol Cathedral as part of the Festival of Nature 2023. For this presentation of the artwork, rather than using engine oil,  we’re using a type of oil which doesn’t smell, which Luke has developed in his studio.

The programme of Oil Fountain inspired events includes;

  • An exhibition exploring why climate change is important to Christians and looking at the impact of climate change on both the planet and people.
  • A multi/non-faith ceremony to welcome Oil Fountain and Extinction Rebellion into the cathedral. 15th June.
  • Luke Jerram talk on College Green. 18th June at 3:35pm.
  • Children’s trails investigating climate change and creation care.
  • Cathedral Up Late. Visit the Cathedral after hours to see Oil Fountain, take part in a Climate Discussion Panel and Climate Café.
  • Fitzhardinge Consort Concert. A night celebrating the environment and eco-activism through art! 22nd June.
  • Lunchtime recitals with a nature twist. Music for these recitals has been specially selected with the natural world in mind. 20th and 27th June.

Traditionally, towns and cities have been built around the presence of clean water. Water fountains were a source of safe drinking water and a meeting place for the community. Over time, they have become symbols of life, health, and also used to communicate prosperity and power.

Contemporary society is now built around the use of oil. Oil in the form of petrol and diesel is the main source of fuel for transport. People wear oil in the form of polyester and nylon fabrics in our clothing, and we even wrap our food in oil, in the form of plastic.

Just as water fountains are meeting places within a town, Oil Fountain will become a place for organisations and individuals fighting climate change to meet and discuss their work.

Luke said: “We all need to do what we can to reduce our dependency on oil, help fight climate change and steer society towards a net zero future. With a climate crisis underway, I hope this artwork will act as a focal point for conversations and help stimulate debate about this vital issue.”

All materials for the Oil Fountain artwork will be recycled again at the end of the project.


Press Coverage
BBC News
The Telegraph.
BBC Radio Bristol
Western Daily Press
LBC Radio.
Bristol 247


With thanks
Thanks to Slicker Recycling for supplying the recycled oil we need for this artwork. At the end of the project the oil will be returned to them to be recycled and reused.

With thanks to designer PChanningDesign for his work on this arts project.