Meet new MintARTS mixed-media artist, Jake Oliver-Fishman, who invites us to "play" with his work


Jake Oliver-Fishman's Denture Disco
When you’re next wandering through a field at one of the ever growing number of UK festivals, and find yourself staring into a giant set of teeth with music and light emanating from within, do not be afraid. Your dentist has not given you an overdose of nitrous oxide and you are not hallucinating. You are, in fact, partaking in the playful work of Jake Oliver-Fishman, the newest addition to MintARTS Gallery.

Jake Oliver-Fishman's Denture Disco

For Jake, play is core to just about everything he makes. “Over the past three years I've become somewhat obsessed with the idea of play and its necessity to our everyday lives. As children we intuitively play through exploring, experimenting and making things, utilising the immediate environment within which we exist. We then grow up, and so often this sadly results in us learning to refrain from behaving in such a naturally spontaneous way. This can not only massively stunt our creativity and ability to problem solve, but significantly detract from the pleasure of day to day life. I believe play to be quite simply one of the most fundamental aspects of our species existence and evolution.”

And play he does. Jake employs sculpture, painting, photography, and video to bring his art to life. His creative ideas often stem from everyday events, exploring work that can be integrated into daily life, rather than merely occupying a space which is to be looked at.  I'm increasingly frustrated with sculpture being exhibited under the pretence of being too precious to touch or even get close to. I want to inspect, touch, smell and if possible taste what I'm experiencing - not just admire from afar. I have started to really enjoy producing work that invites its participant to sit at it, eat off it or throw their rubbish into it.”

His artwork approaches this element of play from three fronts: 

The first area is exploring people’s reaction and response to integration of an object or activity into their lives in the public domain. This can take the form of someone balancing a piece of fruit or veg on their head, pushing a tissue up their nose, pressing their face against a car or simply encountering Jake in the streets “doing his thing” (see Floating a Bun). These events are photographed or filmed as a means of sharing what has occurred. Jake has found that despite the constant demands on people’s busy lives, generally there is an amazing willingness to engage with things that appear to have no obvious purpose beyond being obscure and playful. Directly after engaging in one of these activities, a passer-by asked someone why they had willingly participated, to which they simply explained, "I have no idea but I'm glad I did". They had evidently had an experience that despite them not understanding its relevance, felt it had been of value. Prioritising play over concerns of potentially looking foolish or doing what's simply practical is key to what is made.

Floating a Bun by Jake Oliver-Fishman, video by Campbell Allan


The second area of work is making large-scale playful and functional public art works with a team of designers, technicians, illustrators, mathematicians and waitresses. Jake and his team’s most recent creation is the aforementioned Denture Disco, a 3-meter high set of glowing musical dentures, which opens up to act as a DJ booth and stage.  This year it was exclusively at Boardmasters Festival in Cornwall but it will be popping up at lots more events and festivals come 2013.

Quink TablesThe third area of work is Quink – Jake’s own process of reworking objects to restore its functionality, and then using it as his canvas for further manipulation. Jake has become increasingly passionate about the process of finding discarded furniture, whether at dumps, recycling centres or by the side of the road. Rather than taking old discarded objects and reworking them to become things that are simply desirable to look at, they need to be functional. “Similarly to wanting people to take a moment to balance fruit and veg on their head as they go about their day, I want the Quink sculpture to be something that can be integrated into people’s everyday lives.”

Quinkicle giclée printIn the case of 2D work, Jake has developed a body of Quink work using a combination of glues, inks and other liquid poured onto paper, perspex or acrylic mirrors. The surfaces are left tilted and repeatedly adjusted to keep the liquids moving as they then dry over days or in some cases weeks. This gradual drying process allows for the materials to merge and the colours to separate. Over the course of the drying process, occasionally an area of the liquid does something particularly unique. This detail is then photographed and has the potential to become a work in itself at a later date, generally taking the form of a print.

Jake admits he is a fairly regular individual, yet someone who's been lucky enough to have the opportunities and experiences to gain the confidence and tools to go about exploring the everyday world around him. He is hungry, hungry to look, explore and most of all create. In any case with anything he does, makes, or creates, “they are inherently only objects or events that then require people’s experiences to turn them into art”.

Ignited Quink giclée print

Quink ChairJake Oliver-Fishman’s Denture Disco is exclusively at the Boardmasters Festival in Cornwall until the end of 2012 but it will be popping up at other events and festivals in 2013. Jake’s 2D work is available on MintARTS and he is also available for commissioning for his Quink sculpture/furniture. Please contact info@mintarts.com for more information on commissioning.


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