Viewing Room

Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers is a celebrated visual artist, illustrator and picturebook maker. Uniting his practice is sense of whimsy and curiosity, which he uses to explore contemporary global issues. Jeffers is very much influenced by his childhood experiences in Belfast, as he explains there is 'a sense of humour that's particular to Northern Ireland - a darkness that underpins everything, where nothing is sacred, and everything can be laughed at'.  Topics of exploration have included censorship and ignorance, climate change and more recently the politicisation of borders. It is through these themes that he more broadly questions the futility of man's manipulation of nature, and the consequences of our actions.

 

Jeffers' works have been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally including the Brooklyn Museum and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York, the National Portrait Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and the Palais Auersperg in Vienna. He has earned several awards for his illustrated books including a BAFTA for the animated short film of his book Lost and Found and The Orbil Prize. Jeffers has collaborated with many artists and organisations like Veja Sneakers, JR and recently U2 with whom he created several music videos. Most recently he created an immersive art installation on New York's High Line entitled, The Moon, the Earth and Us. Jefffers currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Oliver Jeffers is a celebrated visual artist, illustrator and picturebook maker. Uniting his practice is sense of whimsy and curiosity, which he uses to explore contemporary global issues. Jeffers is very much influenced by his childhood experiences in Belfast, as he explains there is 'a sense of humour that's particular to Northern Ireland - a darkness that underpins everything, where nothing is sacred, and everything can be laughed at'.  Topics of exploration have included censorship and ignorance, climate change and more recently the politicisation of borders. It is through these themes that he more broadly questions the futility of man's manipulation of nature, and the consequences of our actions.

 

Jeffers' works have been exhibited in museums and galleries internationally including the Brooklyn Museum and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New York, the National Portrait Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin and the Palais Auersperg in Vienna. He has earned several awards for his illustrated books including a BAFTA for the animated short film of his book Lost and Found and The Orbil Prize. Jeffers has collaborated with many artists and organisations like Veja Sneakers, JR and recently U2 with whom he created several music videos. Most recently he created an immersive art installation on New York's High Line entitled, The Moon, the Earth and Us. Jefffers currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Current Exhibition

Observations on Modern Life

Observations on Modern Life explores the absurd ways in which politics and nationalism shape our geographic borders and global communications. The exhibition features over 50 works created over the past decade that comprise an on-going reflection on our uncertain future. Using familiar objects like globes and maps, Jeffers imprints social commentary onto scenes of contemporary life and our physical landscape. By visualising potential man-made dramas Jeffers offers portals for constructive engagement with the current affairs of today.   

Observations on Modern Life explores the absurd ways in which politics and nationalism shape our geographic borders and global communications. The exhibition features over 50 works created over the past decade that comprise an on-going reflection on our uncertain future. Using familiar objects like globes and maps, Jeffers imprints social commentary onto scenes of contemporary life and our physical landscape. By visualising potential man-made dramas Jeffers offers portals for constructive engagement with the current affairs of today.   

Interview

Did growing up in Ireland influence your interest in this topic of borders/topography?

 

Very much so. Certainly later in life. For reasons unknown I have always been blessed with a very strong sense of direction. I think when coupled with my early fascination for maps, and other means of conveying information visually, I have always felt a curiosity to know where I am in general relation to things. Being part of a small island, growing up in Northern Ireland meant that it wasn't terribly difficult to get a sense of the land around me as a whole, as opposed to say growing up slap bang in the middle of China for example.

As an adult the inherent identity crisis associated with Northern-Irishness (are we British? Are we Irish? Both? Neither?) mixed with a growing awareness of just how politically misleading maps have always been (as in, they have always drawn to make the importance of those commissioning the drawing seem enhanced) are the two must fundamental undercurrents to my interest in adopting maps and borders into my art practice. My main objective in dealing with maps and borders in my work is from a relatively new sense of how mentally constructed they are. Mankind is the only species that recognise borders, and only then because we all agree that they are real. They, nor any real sign of human activity, cannot be seen from space.

 

Can you talk about the links between your recent project on The High Line and your exhibition Observations on Modern Life?

 

In line with where the last question left off, 'The Moon, the Earth and Us' as The High Line sculpture was called, was a celebration of human unity, and the Overview Effect - which is a shift in perspective that most commonly occurs in astronauts after they have been far enough from our planet to view it as one entity floating in space and realise that we are part of a single system. 

From that vantage point the delicate fragility of existence becomes strikingly obvious. Our atmosphere, the only thing that protects us from the absolute void of outer space is like the skin of an onion. All astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect come back to earth with a renewed perspective on borders and nationalism. For one thing the vast majority of the surface of our planet is water, so while this planet alone in the universe is the sole place that can harbour life, it is actually only 29% of its surface that can do so. SO on that sculpture and, the mini mini version here in this show, I have shown an accurate scale of the earths relationship with the moon to convey just how alone we are in the universe. All of the borders have been drawn out and inside them, written over and over again, it says 'People Live Here'. When you get to the moon, 50ft away, it says 'No One Lives Here'. Pretty simple really.

Buckminster Fuller spoke of our Earth as a mechanical vehicle and urged its owners to treat it as such - the sentiment being that owners of vehicles intuitively know they need looking after and tending to if they are to remain in full working order. The reality is that we are much too distracted arguing with each other over what to play on the radio of our vehicle Earth to notice the smoke pouring from the engine. 

Much of the work in this show speaks both directly to climate change, and to our ever so easy tendency to be distracted. Much of the work too speaks about my thoughts on nationalism and borders. To sum up - I don't trust either. We live in a global world. All of the issues humanity faces will require global solutions, and retreating inward to Nationalism is the antithesis to this.

 

Can you talk about the importance of scale and dimension in terms of your practice?

 

There is a large variation of scale in this show. But with all of it, I have worked more loosely than usual, and in looking back, I believe its because there is a sense of urgency about all of the work.

In the books I make the work is all made actual size, which is pretty small considering the average size of a book. However I was well versed in making large paintings before I fell into book making. I have never had much difficulty shifting scale. When asked once how I do this I answered, without trying to be funny, that I just use a bigger brush.

 

What kind of discussions do you hope will come out?

 

I hope people who see the show leave with a notion to challenge their own sense of perspective, to see past the noise and distraction of 21st century living. In a consumerist culture in western civilisation in the 21st century, we are not exactly taught to think for ourselves. And I hope that even one person comes out from this show with the niggling thought to not believe everything they are told. 

Find out for yourself. Learn how to be curious. Flip the perspective and look at familiar things from foreign vantage points.

There's no such thing as objective truth. Everything we are is stories. People are more than the stories they tell, they are told and are told about them. A very powerful realisation is that you can change those stories. 

Did growing up in Ireland influence your interest in this topic of borders/topography?

 

Very much so. Certainly later in life. For reasons unknown I have always been blessed with a very strong sense of direction. I think when coupled with my early fascination for maps, and other means of conveying information visually, I have always felt a curiosity to know where I am in general relation to things. Being part of a small island, growing up in Northern Ireland meant that it wasn't terribly difficult to get a sense of the land around me as a whole, as opposed to say growing up slap bang in the middle of China for example.

As an adult the inherent identity crisis associated with Northern-Irishness (are we British? Are we Irish? Both? Neither?) mixed with a growing awareness of just how politically misleading maps have always been (as in, they have always drawn to make the importance of those commissioning the drawing seem enhanced) are the two must fundamental undercurrents to my interest in adopting maps and borders into my art practice. My main objective in dealing with maps and borders in my work is from a relatively new sense of how mentally constructed they are. Mankind is the only species that recognise borders, and only then because we all agree that they are real. They, nor any real sign of human activity, cannot be seen from space.

 

Can you talk about the links between your recent project on The High Line and your exhibition Observations on Modern Life?

 

In line with where the last question left off, 'The Moon, the Earth and Us' as The High Line sculpture was called, was a celebration of human unity, and the Overview Effect - which is a shift in perspective that most commonly occurs in astronauts after they have been far enough from our planet to view it as one entity floating in space and realise that we are part of a single system. 

From that vantage point the delicate fragility of existence becomes strikingly obvious. Our atmosphere, the only thing that protects us from the absolute void of outer space is like the skin of an onion. All astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect come back to earth with a renewed perspective on borders and nationalism. For one thing the vast majority of the surface of our planet is water, so while this planet alone in the universe is the sole place that can harbour life, it is actually only 29% of its surface that can do so. SO on that sculpture and, the mini mini version here in this show, I have shown an accurate scale of the earths relationship with the moon to convey just how alone we are in the universe. All of the borders have been drawn out and inside them, written over and over again, it says 'People Live Here'. When you get to the moon, 50ft away, it says 'No One Lives Here'. Pretty simple really.

Buckminster Fuller spoke of our Earth as a mechanical vehicle and urged its owners to treat it as such - the sentiment being that owners of vehicles intuitively know they need looking after and tending to if they are to remain in full working order. The reality is that we are much too distracted arguing with each other over what to play on the radio of our vehicle Earth to notice the smoke pouring from the engine. 

Much of the work in this show speaks both directly to climate change, and to our ever so easy tendency to be distracted. Much of the work too speaks about my thoughts on nationalism and borders. To sum up - I don't trust either. We live in a global world. All of the issues humanity faces will require global solutions, and retreating inward to Nationalism is the antithesis to this.

 

Can you talk about the importance of scale and dimension in terms of your practice?

 

There is a large variation of scale in this show. But with all of it, I have worked more loosely than usual, and in looking back, I believe its because there is a sense of urgency about all of the work.

In the books I make the work is all made actual size, which is pretty small considering the average size of a book. However I was well versed in making large paintings before I fell into book making. I have never had much difficulty shifting scale. When asked once how I do this I answered, without trying to be funny, that I just use a bigger brush.

 

What kind of discussions do you hope will come out?

 

I hope people who see the show leave with a notion to challenge their own sense of perspective, to see past the noise and distraction of 21st century living. In a consumerist culture in western civilisation in the 21st century, we are not exactly taught to think for ourselves. And I hope that even one person comes out from this show with the niggling thought to not believe everything they are told. 

Find out for yourself. Learn how to be curious. Flip the perspective and look at familiar things from foreign vantage points.

There's no such thing as objective truth. Everything we are is stories. People are more than the stories they tell, they are told and are told about them. A very powerful realisation is that you can change those stories. 

Browse Originals

Recent Press

Oliver Jeffers returns to the capital

The artist and author Oliver Jeffers is back in the capital, with his third solo exhibition. Observations on Modern Life is the first to showcase the collage work of the Northern Irish artist, with more than 50 pieces created over the last decade which capture his style of adding humour to futile situations.
Luke Blackall, London Live, Apr 10 2019

Oliver Jeffers breaks down borders, butch Irish men and Brexit

The Northern Irish artist, illustrator and writer Oliver Jeffers is a little bit of a polymath with a wry, endearing take on modern life.
Gareth Harris, The Art Newspaper, Apr 8 2019

20 questions with... Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers is an Irish artist, designer, illustrator and writer. Jeffers is most well-known for his picture books, especially Here We Are, his most recent publication.
Poppy Malby, GQ, Mar 3 2019

Oliver Jeffers: Observations on Modern Life

Lazinc is presenting its third solo exhibition with award-winning artist, illustrator, and author, Oliver Jeffers.
Mark Westall, FAD Magazine, Apr 4 2019

Oliver Jeffers: ‘Patriotism is suspect, but I can get behind cultures’

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the concept of borders is something of an obsession for Northern Irish artist Oliver Jeffers who now lives in Brooklyn.
Steven MacKenzie, Big Issue , Apr 1 2019

Oliver Jeffers' Observations on Modern Life

Best known to most for his kiddie-friendly illustration work, a new London exhibition celebrates Oliver Jeffers' sculptural and collage work created over the past 10 years.
Emily Gosling, Creative Boom, Apr 15 2019

Oliver Jeffers: Observations on Modern Life

We had a chat with Oliver Jeffers, the award winning artist, illustrator and author in his studio in Brooklyn, ahead of his upcoming exhibition at Lazinc Gallery in London, ‘Observations on Modern Life’.
Lara Morrell, My Art Guide, Mar 29 2019

Oliver Jeffers: Observations on Modern Life

An exhibition of sculptural and collage work by the artist, illustrator and author Oliver Jeffers.
Sarah Snaith, Eye Magazine (Online), Mar 26 2019

Recent Projects

The Moon, the Earth and Us at The High Line

Check out Oliver Jeffers' recent project on The High Line
High Line, Jan 9 2019

Veja x Oliver Jeffers Sneakers

Oliver Jeffers, Oliver Jeffers, Sep 7 2018

Collaborations with U2

Oliver Jeffers, Collaborations with U2, Nov 29 2013
    • Browse Editions Exclusive prints and editions right at your fingertips...
    • Browse Originals Buy original works by our artists, starting at £1,000
    • Browse Editions Buy exclusive prints and editions by our artists, starting at £100
    • Sell your art Contact us to sell originals or editions through Lazinc.

    Lazinc Sackville

    info@lazinc.com
    +44 (0) 207 636 5443

    Gallery: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm

    Office: Monday–Friday 10am–6pm

    Please note the gallery will be closed to the public on Tuesday 5 November 2019 for a private event.

    Admission is free

    For wheelchair access, please contact the gallery prior to your visit.

     

     

    Lazinc Sackville

    +44 (0) 207 636 5443
    info@lazinc.com

    Customer Support

    + 44 (0) 207 636 5443

    support@lazinc.com

    Basket

    Close
    No items found

    General enquiry

    Sales enquiry

    Sell your art

    Close

    Your details

    Artwork details

    Your enquiry has been sent

    Search

    Close
    Search

    Close

    Please wait

    We are checking availability of your items.
    If available we will process your payment.
    Please do not refresh this page.

    Viewing Room

    Thank you for signing up to Lazinc's private Viewing Room. By submitting your email, you are agreeing to join Lazinc's mailing list and will receive exclusive updates on gallery exhibitions, news and events.
    By submitting this form you will be added to our mailing list.