In October, Chelmsford Cathedral displayed the Gaia art installation as part of the Science Festival. It was hugely popular with people of all ages. Children’s activities were organised in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University’s Sustainable Futures.
The Cathedral interior was emptied of seats; the artwork suspended in the centre of the space. The 7 metre model rotated slowly and swayed gently in the moving air. It was also open at night, stunningly lit. It’s undeniably beautiful.
I visited during the half term holiday so it was very busy with children, but there was a calm atmosphere as people moved around to view it from different angles and enjoy its tranquil beauty.
A view from afar
Gaia was created by artist Luke Jerram to provoke thinking about the planet. The installation is touring the world and is well-received everywhere. Jerram points out that ‘humanity has been staring at the Moon for 200,000 years’ but the first time we could see a distant view of Earth was the space travel era of the 1960s.
Observing the Earth is a breathtaking and humbling experience known as the ‘overview effect’. This profound sensation was felt by William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk, when he blasted off into space last year. At an altitude of 350,000 feet, he felt intense awe, grief and a desire to protect the planet.
Jerram hopes that by seeing the Earth as it appears from space, albeit 1.8 million times smaller, we will experience similar feelings of respect and care for the planet. Keith Baggs of Chelmsford Cathedral says: “Gaia is a unique opportunity… to invite the public to reflect on the important part each one of us can play to protect the planet.”