Stunning sculpture Gaia brings the world to Durham Cathedral

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It is the artist's second sculpture to go on display at the cathedral, after Museum of the Moon in 2021.

Durham Cathedral visitors are set for an out-of-this-world experience with the arrival of a massive illuminated sculpture of planet Earth.

Suspended in the nave, the seven-meter globe has been created by UK artist Luke Jerram using detailed images of the Earth’s surface, taken by NASA.

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Luke Jerram's sculpture Gaia has gone on display at Durham CathedralLuke Jerram's sculpture Gaia has gone on display at Durham Cathedral
Luke Jerram's sculpture Gaia has gone on display at Durham Cathedral | North News & Pictures northn

As the artwork slowly revolves, you will see the whole planet floating in three dimensions, illuminating the world class architecture of the cathedral. A specially made surround sound composition by BAFTA award-winning composer Dan Jones is played alongside.

The touring installation, which aims to inspire everyone to do what they can to care for our planet and combat climate change, has been to various locations around the world before arriving at Durham Cathedral today, Monday, July 10, until September 10.

Gaia is the artist's second installation to be shown at Durham Cathedral after Museum of the Moon wowed visitors in 2021.

Sandra Rennoldson, from Sunderland, was one of the first visitors to see the new arrival: "Its fantastic, a really great draw for the cathedral," she said.

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"I came to see the Moon back in 2021 and I'm so pleased to be the first to now see the Earth."

Visitors have been getting creative taking pictures of the artwork - trying to hold the Earth in their hand and getting down on the ground for the perfect shot

'The perfect setting'

Volunteer Susan Grey was welcoming visitors during Gaia's first day at the cathedral, said: "It's splendid, a really different focal point in the cathedral.

"Visitors have been very impressed as soon as they have caught their first glimpse of the artwork."

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Andrew Usher, Chief Officer: Visitor Experience and Enterprise at Durham Cathedral, said the cathedral was the perfect location: "We’ve been hugely anticipating the arrival of Gaia at Durham Cathedral for a while and the vast nave of the cathedral is the perfect setting for people to really soak in this colossal artwork.

"The cathedral is a place for everyone to enjoy. We welcome people from all over the world on a daily basis and for the next eight weeks we’re looking forward to welcoming even more people from the region and beyond as they come to see the installation.

The artwork will be on display until September 10The artwork will be on display until September 10
The artwork will be on display until September 10 | North News & Pictures northn

"It slowly rotates, is lit from within, and illuminates the high vaulted ceiling and cathedral’s carved pillars – it really is breath-taking.”

A programme of earth-themed events will accompany Gaia including sustainable Dinners under the Earth with Chester-le-Street based community café REfUSE, yoga classes and silent discos.

What's happening

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One of the highlights will be Gaia Lates, a series of late-night openings offering visitors the chance to see the installation after-hours. These select summer evenings will have a festival-feel and feature street food, music, live entertainment and hands on activities - from kombucha making to floristry workshops and poetry writing - each week will be slightly different.

While all events will have an eco-friendly theme, a series of talks and debates on climate change and climate justice will also take place.

"Gaia has such a visual impact and with the current climate crisis being such an important topic in people’s lives, we hope the installation and a programme of fun and thought-provoking activities will allow visitors to reflect on the health of our planet and consider what we can do to help reverse the effects of climate change," said Andrew Usher

Entry is free with a suggested donation of £5 to help support conservation of the cathedral. Events and activities range from £5.50 for craft activities to £66.50 for a three course meal under the earth.

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