Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers

Oliver Jeffers was born in Port Hedland in Western Australia in 1977. He moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1979 where he grew up and learned to paint and write.
Oliver graduated from the University of Ulster in the spring of 2001 with a first class BA Hons degree in Design for Visual Communication, and taught part time for a while on the same course.

His sell-out exhibitions have included 'Opposites', 'A world with coffee', 'The Boys at the Bar' and 'The Session'. Joint exhibitions include '9 days in Belfast' 'book', and 'BUILDING', all critically acclaimed.

'Opposites', an exhibition of oil paintings took place in Sydney as part of the 2000 Olympic Arts Festival. 'A world with coffee' taking place in Sydney the same year and sponsored by Lavazza Coffee Company, featured work incorporating coffee rings as part of a line drawing depicting the contemporary coffee culture. This work is now being compiled with writing in the form of a coffee table art book.

'the boys at the bar', an exhibition of portraiture, took place in The John Hewitt bar at the center of Belfast's Cathedral Quarter in December 2001. The exhibition looked at the morning and afternoon drinking culture in Belfast.
'The session', an exhibition of paintings in 2003, was commissioned by the Lryic Theatre, Belfast, to coincide with the Premiere Launch of Marie Jones' play 'the Blind Fiddler', and was a study of traditional Irish music circles in the Pubs of Northern Ireland.

'9 days in Belfast' was part of the 4th cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in May of 2003. In this joint exhibition with New Yorker Mac Premo, both artists viewed Belfast from alternative perspectives, Oliver from growing up in the city and Mac as a visitor to the city the previous year.
'book' was first exhibited in Belfast in 2004 and then in New York in September 2005 as part of the 'Cities, Art and Recovery' Festival. This group exhibition featured the work of Belfast artists Oliver Jeffers and Rory Jeffers, and New York artists Mac Premo and Duke Riley, who together work under the name of OAR. For thirty-six weeks, a sketchbook travelled over sixty thousand miles as it was sent in random order between the four artists on either side of the Atlantic, each completing a spread in response to the one that preceded it in a 4-way visual conversation. 'Book' was short-listed for the McNaughton Paper Design Award, held in Monte-Carlo in March 2005.

BUILDING, the second major OAR project, was about the life and times of an abandoned innocuous, small brick building in Belfast that housed some of the cities most important electrical equipment. The building, Belfast's giant on/off switch, was the control room for Northern Ireland Electricity for almost 40 years. The four artists of OAR were given one week to document and salvage as much of the abandoned equipment as possible, prior to its renovation into the new offices of renowned architects Robinson McIlwaine. Then using that equipment, OAR told the buildings story from four different perspectives: Its function behind closed doors, how it effected and was in turn affected by the city it was built in, the people who worked there every day, and the citizens of Belfast unaware of its existence.

OAR created a gallery, THE SWITCH ROOM, in the ground floor of the same building, to house the exhibition.

Oliver is preparing for another double header exhibition of paintings with artist Mac Premo to be exhibited in the Florence Gallery, London, later next year. The collection entitled 'Understanding Everything' looks at the overlap between two different sets of rules used to understand our world: science and emotion.

Oliver has illustrated for such clients as RCA Records, Starbucks, Lavazza, Ernst &Young, the Progressive Building Society, UTV, HarperCollins and Penguin, and donated illustrations to the War Child Fund for their Children's Compilation Book 'Kids Night In', published in the UK and Australia in July 2003 by Harper Collins.

Oliver began writing and illustrating children's stories when he realised that people didn't believe what he did with his time. He has had a number of adventures that he has collected into his books for children; his debut picture book, 'How to Catch a Star', was inspired by a moment sitting on the end of a jetty in Sydney, looking at the reflections of things in the water. Not having an agent, Oliver sent his work unsolicited to HarperCollins Publishers. Its potential was immediately recognised, it was whisked off the slush pile and the publishing process began. In 2004, the book was published by HarperCollins Children's Books and was also short listed for the Booktrust Early Years Award for Best New Illustrator. In 2005, 'How to Catch a Star' won a Merit Award at the CBI/Bisto Book of Year Awards.

After the international success of 'How to Catch a Star', Oliver went on to produce the breathtakingly beautiful follow-up, 'Lost and Found', which garnered fantastic sales and critical acclaim on publication in 2005, and has been short listed for the Nestle Children's Book Prize 2005.

Oliver's artwork is primarily about telling stories. He does so with an inquisitiveness and underlying humour, where colour, space and the relationship between words and pictures become the tools of his narration.
His loves include plastic food, suitcase handles and Bill Cosby and he continues to write lists he never reads. He remains hell bent on travelling all over the world.



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