Inspirational Artwork in Coventry

Coventry Quaker Pete Duckworth reflects on an artwork hosted by the city’s cathedral, encouraging a different perspective on our shared Earth:

You may be aware that Coventry is acting as UK City of Culture this year. However not all the art events this year are part of City of Culture.

As part of the annual Peace Festival this year the cathedral ruins hosted “Gaia” – a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. 

Gaia is a huge balloon (seven metres in diameter). It displays really detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface, which lets you see the Earth in its true three-dimensional scale. A specially made surround sound composition by award-winning composer Dan Jones accompanies the sculpture. 

The artwork itself is 1.8 million times smaller than the real Earth with each centimetre of the internally lit sculpture describing 18km of the Earth’s surface. If you were to stand 211m away from the artwork, you would be able to see the Earth as it appears from the moon. We couldn’t even make out the UK, a tight angle and it was covered in cloud!

Our Friend Jo Hallett was lucky enough to see it after dark, when it is illuminated from within. The effect is even more startling as her picture above shows. In Meeting for Worship the following day Jo was moved to minister on her experience particularly of how blue and watery our world is and the timeliness of the artwork being in our city curing COP26. More prosaically I was struck by just how huge the Pacific is. OK not an original notion but it looks awesome viewed from a low  angle. More originally,  I note that Australia appears to have been painted in gouache by an expressionist!

Gaia really created a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and maybe a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment. This message of peace to the world reflects the city’s role in promoting peace and reconciliation across the world.