Primary/Bristol: Southville Primary School

Luke Jerram, Southville Primary School, Bristol, 2015. Photo © Max McClure, Courtesy of BCC and Arnolfini.


The expansion of Southville Primary School is part of Bristol City Council’s Primary/Bristol series of artist commissions for primary schools commissioned as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme. As part of the development, Bristol based artist Luke Jerram was commissioned by project curators Arnolfini to develop a new public art work for the school working closely with pupils, teaching staff and school Head Sandie Smith.


Jerram’s involvement with the school led to the development of two public works. The first work ‘Euclid’ is a large mirrored stainless steel sculpture situated in the school grounds. Euclid was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". His work, the Elements is one of the most influential in the history of mathematics, serving as the main textbook for teaching mathematics (especially geometry) from the time of its publication until the late 19th or early 20th century. Jerram's artwork is an icosahedron, one of the 5 platonic solids, described in Euclid's book XIII Proposition 16.

Euclid expresses Jerram’s interest in the microscopic world; the artwork is a fusion of geometry, optics and engineering. Acting as a den and contemplation space for children to climb inside, the structure reflects itself, the children and the surrounding landscape of the school.

The design of Euclid grew out a series of workshops the artist ran with the children of year 4 (the first group of students to use the new school). They designed and built 1:50 scaled architectural structures and thought about how they might be used. The children wanted a den, a private space and somewhere fun to hide. During one of the workshops, Jerram saw a child playing with some special magnetic silver balls, which also influenced the final design of the artwork.

In addition to the development of Euclid, Jerram also worked closely with the school architect Yaron Salamon of AWW on the development of a colour scheme for the school building (skin) based on a series of photographs that Jerram made on a trip to Mexico. The images, largely architectural were then shared with the school leading to the selection of three colours that were eventually used.

With thanks to Richard Stump, Jude Butcher, Cos_Bu for their work on the project.
With thanks to Airbus in Bristol for their additional support.

This project has been made possible through funding from Bristol City Council as part of the Primary Capital Education Programme.

Luke Jerram

Luke Jerram's multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations, live arts projects and gifts. Living in Bristol but working internationally since his career began in 1997, Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe. He is currently Visiting Senior Research Fellow at CFPR, University of West of England.

Jerram is known worldwide for his large scale public engagement artworks. His celebrated street pianos installation 'Play Me, I'm Yours' has been presented in over 38 cities so far, reaching an audience to date of over 5 million people around the world. Launched by the French Minister of Culture in Paris and Mayor Bloomberg in NYC, the installation has received press coverage in almost every newspaper and television station around the globe.

In 2000 Jerram taught in war torn Mostar, Bosnia and he continues to teach and lecture both in the UK and abroad. His most notable lectures include those at The Banff Centre, ROM - Royal Ontario Museum, ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Corning Museum, The Wellcome Collection, Royal College of Art, The Ruskin School of Art, University of Washington, and Nagoya University.


Arnolfini is one of Europe’s leading independent, contemporary arts organisations, welcoming more than 500,000 visitors annually. Since its foundation in 1961, Arnolfini has built an international reputation for commissioning and presenting innovative, experimental work in the contemporary arts, always with a strong emphasis upon audience engagement. Many thousands of artists and performers have been involved with Arnolfini during this time, often gaining their first opportunity before going on to long-term success. The fully accessible converted warehouse situated on Bristol’s historic harbourside also contains one of the country’s best arts bookshops as well as a café bar serving the best in local and seasonal produce.

Southville Primary School

Southville Primary is a friendly, active and busy Primary School, with 8 classes, taking children from 3 - 11 years of age.They aim for high standards in all aspects of school life and believe that education is a shared partnership between home and school, working together for the benefit of their pupils. Their governors are well informed and involve themselves as much as possible in the life of the school and they have a very active 'Friends of Southville Primary', who help out with fund raising for different projects.   Parent volunteers are frequently to be seen in school helping with reading, art, the library, trips and many other things.

  • Commissioner

    Bristol City Council

  • Produced by


  • Partners

    Primary Capital Programme (BCC, Skanska, LEP), AWW

  • Supported by

    Bristol City Council, AirBus