Luke Jerram's Gaia

16 August 2019, 10.00 AM - 18 August 2019, 6.00 PM

Great Hall, Wills Memorial Building

Cabot Institute for the Environment at the University of Bristol are delighted to be hosting Luke Jerram’s Gaia Artwork this summer!

Measuring seven metres in diameter, Gaia features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface*. The artwork provides the opportunity to see our planet on this scale, floating in three-dimensions.

The installation creates a sense of the Overview Effect, which 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. Watch this great film about the phenomenon.

A specially made surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones is played alongside the sculpture. In Greek Mythology Gaia is the personification of the Earth.

The artwork 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. 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.

Gaia has been created in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Bluedot and the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres.

*The imagery for the artwork has been compiled from Visible Earth series, NASA.

Opening times:

This exhibition is free and open to everyone. 

Friday 16 August 10 am to 6 pm

Saturday 17 August 10 am to 8 pm

Sunday 18 August 10 am to 6 pm

As part of the event, the School of Earth Sciences invites visitors to reflect on the exhibition in the Reception Room (opposite the Great Hall exit) where talks, interactive exhibits, and children activities will be on show. These will offer an opportunity to mingle with other visitors and Earth Scientists to discuss our Blue Planet - past, present and future. 


Saturday 17 August, 11 am 
Dr Kate Hendry “The melting Arctic and the changing ocean” 
Sunday 18 August, 11 am
Dr Juliet Biggs Title TBC 

The Bristol Dinosaur Project will be on site with a fabulous selection of local fossils, dinosaur bones and palaeoart projects for all generations. Visitors are also welcome to explore the EarthArt Gallery on the ground floor of the Wills Memorial Building and hear more about a very fruitful, Bristol-based art-science collaboration. One of the worlds first geological maps of mainland UK by William Smith is also on show in the gallery.

Launch event:

The (free) ticketed launch event will take place on Thursday 15 August 4 pm to 5:30 pm and will include talks from Luke Jerram and Cabot Institute for the Environment experts Professor Dale Southerton, Dame Julia Slingo, Dr Alix Dietzel and Professor Rich Pancost. 

Register for your free ticket - SOLD OUT. 

Further information:

Luke Jerram

Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. Living in the UK but working internationally since 1997, Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe. Jerram has a set of different narratives that make up his practice which are developing in parallel with one another. He is known worldwide for his large scale public artworks. Find out more at

New Book: Luke Jerram: Art, Science & Play provides a fascinating insight into the evolving practice of international artist Luke Jerram. With over fifty colour photographs and two specially commissioned texts by Ken Arnold (Wellcome Collection) and Mark Ball (Manchester International Festival) the publication delves into the mind of an artist known for his imaginative ability to combine art, science and play, showing us that (in his own words) “anything is possible”. Find out more in this short film


Cabot Institute for the Environment

The Cabot Institute for the Environment is a diverse community of 600 experts, united by a common cause: protecting our environment and identifying ways of living better with our changing planet.

Together, we deliver the evidence base and solutions to tackle the challenges of food securitywaterlow carbon energycity futuresenvironmental change, and natural hazards and disaster risk

Find out more:

Contact information 

W5, Belfast

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