DateSep 10 - Oct 3, 2021
Gaia is a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Measuring seven metres in diameter, Gaia features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface*. The artwork provides the opportunity to see our planet on this scale, floating in three-dimensions.
The installation creates a sense of the Overview Effect, which was first described by author Frank White in 1987. Common features of the experience for astronauts are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment. Watch this great film about the phenomenon.
The artwork also acts as a mirror to major events in society. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the artwork may provide the viewer with a new perspective of our place on the planet; a sense that societies of the Earth are all interconnected and that we have a responsibility toward one another. After the lockdown, there has been a renewed respect for nature.
A specially made surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones is played alongside the sculpture. In Greek Mythology Gaia is the personification of the Earth.
*The imagery for the artwork has been compiled from Visible Earth series, NASA.
Q&A with Artist Luke Jerram
- Where did you get the idea to make the Gaia artwork?
The artwork was also made as a sister sculpture, to compare with the Museum of the Moon, which to date has been seen by over 3 million members of the public in more than 25 countries worldwide. For our entire human existence we have been gazing up at the moon and projecting all our hopes, dreams and wishes up there. Whereas for the Earth, it was only in 1968 through NASA’s Earthrise photo, that humanity was able to see our planet for the first time, as a blue marble of life, floating in blackness of space.
- During its tour, Gaia has always be shown in public spaces. Why is it important to you to show your artworks in public spaces?
I enjoy presenting artwork in public spaces, as I know the audience will be broad and diverse and the exhibition will be open to everyone.
I like the fact that whether Gaia is presented in an art museum, science centre, park or cathedral, the experience and interpretation of the artwork will change.
Gaia also acts as a venue, with local hosts creating their own programme of events to take place beneath the artwork. These might include: space or environmentally themed science events; music or performance arts events etc.
- Gaia is made of really precise imagery from NASA’s Visible Earth series. Can you explain this choice?
I wanted to make the artwork seem as authentic and realistic as possible to give the public the opportunity to see how our planet looks from space. For most people, this will be their most intimate, personal and closest encounter they will ever have with the whole of our planet.
- What do you expect to provoke among the public with Gaia?
I hope visitors to Gaia get to see the Earth as if from space; an incredibly beautiful and precious place. An ecosystem we urgently need to look after – our only home.
6. Each venue that hosts Gaia has its own architectural specificities. It also offers different performances and events beneath the artwork. Why is this important to you?
Gaia is an installation artwork that combines the architecture of the space, the sculpture of the Earth and a surround sound composition. Each venue and host, has the opportunity to curate their own Earth and environmentally inspired events.
Like many of my other artworks such as Museum of the Moon, Play Me, I’m Yours and Withdrawn, this work provides opportunities for collaboration and the creative input of others. I enjoy the unexpected outcomes of an artwork, when I leave space for the public or for other artists to be creative.
7. Music is also very important for your artwork. How relevant and important is Dan Jones’ composition to your work?
The surround sound music connects the sculpture with the space and architecture around it. The sound fills a room and creates an atmosphere and ambience, shaping and guiding interpretation of the sculpture.
I’ve worked with Dan over 10 years on various projects and he’s always a pleasure to collaborate with.
More information about the artwork can be found at: