Luke Jerram

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. In 2022 alone he had 104 exhibitions in 25 different countries, visited by more than 2 million people.

As well as touring his installations, Luke’s artworks are in over 50 permanent collections around the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Wellcome Collection in London.

Luke Jerram was given honorary doctorates from the University of Bristol in 2020 and University of Gloucestershire in 2022. He was made an Honorary Academician of the RWA and Fellow of The Royal Astronomical Society in 2020.

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 impacted by austerity.

Luke creates artworks at all scales, that deliver messages and inspire communities to recognise often challenging concepts. With many of his latest artworks, including GaiaOil FountainInhale and This Way Forward, Jerram has been using his skills in visual communication to draw attention to planetary health. His Floating Earth artwork aims to prompt the difficult discussions we all need to have about climate change and what we can do to make our lifestyles and society more sustainable. During its 2 week presentation in London, the artwork was visited by over 100,000 people each day – around 1 million people over the course of the exhibition.

The artwork Museum of the Moon is one of Luke’s most successful projects to catch the public’s imagination, so far it has been presented in different ways, more than 300 times in 30 different countries. Offering universal appeal, the exhibit has been breaking audience records in venues around the globe. Experienced by more than 20 million people worldwide, the artwork has toured India with the British Council, been presented at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, Art Basel in Miami and exhibited in Aarhus, Denmark for the European Capital of Culture. It has been presented at Glastonbury Festival and even on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. Over 2 million people visited the artwork when it was presented at the Natural History Museum, making it one of their most popular exhibits ever. 

Over the course of its 12-year tour, his celebrated street pianos installation ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ was presented in over 70 cities and has 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 received press coverage in almost every newspaper and television station around the globe. During this time, Luke installed over 2,000 street pianos, but his project has also been copied by many organisations, creating a global movement of pianos being installed in public places for people to play. The concept has now become part of culture.

Jerram is known worldwide for his large-scale public engagement artworks. In 2014, Luke’s 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. With the help of Luke’s DIY slide pack, hundreds of thousands of pounds, have also been raised by charities, presenting their own urban slides across the UK.

Luke’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). Throughout 2020 his sculptures of Covid-19, were used by the worldwide press, to communicate the nature of the pandemic. His sculptures are also respected in the scientific community with features in The LancetScientific AmericanBMJ 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 Luke won the coveted Rakow Award for this work and a fellowship at the Museum of Glass, Washington.

Luke’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 anechoic chambers, to the freezing forests of Lapland and sand dunes of the Sahara desert, new ways of seeing emerge from these research field trips. Works such as Retinal Memory VolumeSky Orchestra and the Impossible Garden have emerged from exploring the edges of perception.

Many of Luke’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 YoursMuseum of the MoonPark and Slide and Withdrawn. Jerram builds and manages specialist teams of engineers, craftsmen and technicians to help him realise his works. He says “through collaboration with specialists, I’m only limited by my imagination in what can be produced. Anything is possible.”

Over time, narratives connecting Luke’s different artworks have emerged and continue to be developed. Art in Mind was the first book written about his work on perception. His second book, published in 2020, Luke Jerram: Art, Science & Play, provides a fascinating insight into his evolving practice.

The Sky Orchestra is another critically acclaimed large scale project, which grew out of Europe’s largest arts award – a three year NESTA Fellowship. With the Bristol Old Vic, he collaborated with musicians from 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 also 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.

Luke often talks about his work on both national and international television and radio as part of the promotion of his exhibitions. See latest press coverage. Luke regularly discusses his work on Radio4’s Front Row. Working with independent production companies to develop projects, in 2020 he was commissioned to make the Palm Temple for a 2 hour television programme for Sky Arts. In 2015, a 30 minute television programme was made about his work for Bloomberg television.

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.