There is no planet B: Earth sculpture Gaia arrives in Norwich to highlight the environmental crisis
- Credit: BRITTANY WOODMAN/LUKE JERRAM
Have you ever wanted to be an astronaut, to enter outer space and see the earth from a birds-eye view?
Gaia, a touring sculpture of our planet Earth created by artist Luke Jerram, has arrived at the St Peter Mancroft church in Norwich and will help visitors to see Earth in a way most of us can only dream of.
The sculpture is designed as a talking point, a reason to bring people together to think about our home.
Gaia, measuring 7m in diameter, was created from NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface. At 1.8 million times smaller than the Earth, each centimetre of the sculpture equates to 18km of the Earth’s surface.
With the help of a hot air balloon company, 150m of high-definition printed fabric has been stitched together and lit from the inside to create the breathtaking sculpture.
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Spinning on a slow axis, Gaia will, Jerram says, help onlookers “...get a sense of what it might be like to be in the international space station looking down".
The artist’s Museum of the Moon, which was a 7m sculpture of the Moon, appeared inside The Forum as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival in 2017.
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Gaia was inspired by the ‘Overview Effect’ - a phenomenon astronauts experience when viewing the Earth from space - which evokes a sense of awe and responsibility for the planet.
Jerram, who talks of being interested in visual perception, has the environment at the heart of his work, presenting the sculpture with a conscious scientific mind.
He hopes that Gaia will spark a responsibility to look after the planet once visitors see how beautiful and fragile it is, as they experience the Overview Effect with both feet firmly on the ground.
He says: "We are in the middle of the sixth global mass extinction of species and the Earth is in crisis. It doesn't always feel like that on a daily basis, so it felt like an important and necessary artwork to make.
"Covid spread round the world incredibly quickly, in a matter of weeks, and when we have these massive moments of crisis of humanity, whether it is Covid or climate change, we have to work collaboratively.
"You suddenly realise we are all interconnected as a species and realise how small we are. When you try to spot England you realise it is very hard. It is about creating a sense of perspective."
An installation designed for a multi-denominational audience, Gaia is sure to spark religious, mythological and scientific thoughts about the Earth.
All three disciplines are incorporated through Jerram's work with NASA, his naming after the Greek deity Gaia - the personification of Earth and mother of all life - and in Norwich's case, the work's temporary religious home.
He says: "I was keen to make people think about the Earth in a historical and cultural perspective".
Alongside the exhibition, there will be many events taking place over the course of the month, including music, talks and workshops. The full list of all events can be found here.
Gaia will be exhibiting until the October 31 at St Peter Mancroft Norwich. Monday - Saturday 10am - 3.30pm, Thursday 6-8pm. Entry is free. For more information about Gaia, visit my-earth.org/about/.