Oliver Jeffers

Profile on the acclaimed writer and illustrator

Oliver Jeffers was born in Port Hedland in Western Australia in 1977. He moved to Belfast in 1979 where he grew up and learned to paint and write. Jeffers graduated from the University of Ulster in 2001 with a first class BA Hons degree in Design for Visual Communication and now teaches part time 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 have included the critically acclaimed Nine days in Belfast and Book.

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 monotone drawing, depicting the contemporary coffee culture. This work is now being compiled with writing in the form of a coffee table art book.

The portraiture exhibition, The Boys at the Bar, took place in the John Hewitt bar at the centre of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter in December 2001 and looked at the morning and afternoon drinking culture in Belfast.

The session, an exhibition of paintings in 2003, was commissioned by the Lyric Theatre in Belfast to coincide with the premiere launch of Marie Jones’ play The Blind Fiddler. This exhibition examined the traditional Irish music circles in the pubs of Northern Ireland. A further 2003 exhibition, Nine days in Belfast, was organised as part of fourth Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. In this joint exhibition with New York artist Mac Premo, both artists viewed Belfast from alternative perspectives.

More recently, Book was exhibited in Belfast in 2004 and will be exhibited in New York in the spring of 2005. This group exhibition features the work of Belfast artists Jeffers and Rory Jeffers, and New York artists Mac Premo and Duke Riley. For 36 weeks, a sketchbook traveled over 100,000km as it was sent in random order between the four artists on either side of the Atlantic. Each artist completed a spread in response to the one that preceded it.

Jeffers has illustrated for such clients as 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. Jeffers now writes and illustrates picture books for children, the first of which How to Catch a Star was published by HarperCollins in 2004.

Jeffers successfully participated at Young at Art’s The Reading Zone, which was part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s 2004.