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Luke Jerram's Earth art exhibition Gaia opens at Rochester Cathedral

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A spectacular art installation, Gaia, which is hung inside one of England’s oldest cathedrals opens tomorrow.

The impressive exhibition in Rochester shows the planet from a new perspective and aims to get visitors thinking about their place and impact on it.

Dean of Rochester Philip Hesketh speaks about Gaia

Gaia is an illuminated sculpture of planet Earth and was originally due to arrive in the Medway town in February but the opening was postponed.

The seven-metre wide globe was created by visual artist Luke Jerram, who lives in the UK but has been touring his large-scale art installations all over the world since 1997.

This latest exhibition has already impressed audiences around the world, including Taiwan and Hong Kong, and the invited crowd in Rochester was no different.

"It is quite breathtaking," said Beverley Jacobs. "It reminds me of films when you see the world from a spaceship. I thought I am so old now I won't ever see it from that angle but it is like that.

It is seven-metres wide and aims to give a new perspective of the Earth
It is seven-metres wide and aims to give a new perspective of the Earth

"I think it is very thought-provoking."

Gaia uses detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface to provide visitors to the cathedral with a unique perspective of our own planet floating in three dimensions.

The artwork aims to put visitors in the shoes of an astronaut and provoke wider thought about the planet's place in the universe.

Simon Olley who was visiting the exhibit said: "It is very shocking the size and scale of it, it is really eye-catching. It is a little like viewing the Earth from outer space, how you would never see it.

"It does make you think and seeing it like this from underneath, there is a lot of sea and the space between the continents. It does make you think about what we are fighting about."

Luke Jerram's Earth art exhibition Gaia opens at Rochester Cathedral
Luke Jerram's Earth art exhibition Gaia opens at Rochester Cathedral

Vicki Emrit added: "It is something you are so familiar with but you are so caught off guard seeing it like this. It raises a lot of questions about us on the planet."

A specially-made surround sound composition by BAFTA-award winning composer Dan Jones is also played alongside the exhibition.

The installation is all part of a new initiative from the Church of England, which has outlined its intention to be net carbon zero by 2030, focussing on climate change.

The Dean of Rochester Philip Hesketh said: "We have brought it here again to fill the Cathedral, draw people to into the space and hopefully have a conservation and help people ask questions, reflect and just experience the wonder of what is an extraordinary planet that we all live on and actually is in jeopardy.

"The purpose is to invite people into this space, the nave is a public space and we have a number of exhibitions here to draw people who would not normally come to the Cathedral or indeed feel they can't come in. That is really important.

"While they are here they may well be able to ask questions and help them reflect on their place in the world. And for us, hopefully encounter something of the spiritual dimension which we believe is the unseen around us.

"People have been interested by the perspective and just suddenly looking at it like this and realising how small we are and how vast the planet Earth is. And the amount of water."

KMTV's report on the opening of the exhibition

During your visit, you will be encouraged to think about how you can play a part in fighting climate change, easing the strain on the environment and protecting the planet’s wildlife and ecosystems.

It follows the artist's groundbreaking lunar spectacle, the Museum of the Moon, which was shown in Rochester in 2020, and the success of sell-out light show, Space Voyage, by Luxmuralis inside the cathedral last year.

Gaia will be at Rochester Cathedral from Tuesday, May 24 to Sunday, June 12. Entry is free, but must be booked online in advance here.

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