Gaia, an enormous and awe inspiring spherical sculpture of our planet Earth, will be installed at The Apex entertainment centre in Bury St Edmunds from 3 to 18 October. Created by UK artist, Luke Jerram the 7-metre diameter, rotating artwork will provide an immersive experience for visitors creating a sense of the ‘Overview Effect’ as experienced by astronauts.
The sculpture’s name is derived from the Greek word Gaia meaning ‘earth’; in Greek mythology Gaia is the personification of the earth. It is the first time this spectacular artwork will be displayed in East Anglia.
Featuring detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface at 120dpi resolution, the internally lit artwork allows us to see our planet floating in three-dimensions. A specially created surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning composer, Dan Jones, will be played alongside the sculpture.
The artwork is 1.8 million times smaller than the real Earth with each centimetre describing 18km of the Earth’s surface. By standing 211m away from the artwork, the public will be able to see the Earth as it appears from the moon.
Unlike the moon, which we have been gazing at for millennia, the first time humankind got to see the Earth in its entirety as a blue marble floating in space was in 1972 with NASA’s Apollo 17 mission. At this moment, our perception and understanding of our planet changed forever. Hanging in the black emptiness of space the Earth seems isolated, a precious and fragile island of life. From a distance, the Earth is just a pale blue dot.
The ‘Overview Effect’ 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.
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 towards one another. After the lockdown, there has been a renewed respect for nature.
“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”, said Luke Jerram.
Living in the UK but working internationally since 1997, Jerram’s multi-disciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. He has created a number of extraordinary art projects, which have excited and inspired people around the globe and is known worldwide for his large scale public artworks such as The Museum of the Moon.
Gaia is a major part of The Apex’s Covid-19 recovery programme and demonstrates how a concert hall is diversifying to present art during a time where it cannot stage a live performance.
The artwork has been created in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Bluedot and the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres.
Gaia can be viewed at The Apex from 3 to 18 October between 10am and 4pm daily. Although entry is free allowing access for all, as the venue has not been in a position to present a live concert since March, a donation of £3 per person is being recommended. There is an option to make larger donation to support The Apex, or donations can be waived and Gaia experienced for free.
To ensure social distancing, a limited number of people will be allowed to enter the auditorium at any given point and time slots will be limited to 25 minutes. Visitors will be required to wear their own facemask in the auditorium and hand sanitiser stations will be available.
Pre-booking is essential either online at www.theapex.co.uk, by telephone on 01284 758000 or in person from The Apex, 1 Charter Square, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 3FD; booking opens 28 August. For more information about Gaia visit www.my-earth.org.