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Giant Earth installation inspires action

Having been on show across the UK and the rest of the world, Bristol artist Luke Jerram’s giant artwork of the Earth landed in his home city over the weekend.

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Gaia on show at the Wills Memorial Building in Bristol. Photos: Joe Thorp

Measuring 7m in diameter, Gaia was created using detailed 120dpi NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface to present viewers with a unique way to see the world.

Suspended from the ceiling of the Great Hall in the Wills Memorial Building in Bristol, visitors got the chance to see the planet on a grand scale, floating in three-dimensions.

Gaia is 1.8 million times smaller than the real thing, and when stood 211m away from it viewers can see the Earth as it appears from the Moon.

The Earth installation follows on from Jerram’s Museum of the Moon, a 7m diameter replica of the Moon, also created and printed using NASA imagery of the lunar surface, which first went on show in 2017.

The Earth was printed in parts by Cameron Balloons and sewn together by its machinists

Cameron Balloons, a hot air balloon manufacturer based in the city, printed and stitched the imagery together for both projects using a Durst large-format printer.

Jerram comments: “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.”

I hope visitors to Gaia get to see the Earth as if from space; an incredibly beautiful and precious place

Gaia, which in Greek mythology is the personification of the Earth, is internally lit and creates a sense of the ‘overview effect’, first described by author Frank White in 1987 as a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight whilst they viewed the Earth from outer space.

Some astronauts reported a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment. With this installation, Jerram hopes that visitors will experience some form of the effect to provoke a response to the climate crisis.

“I hope visitors to Gaia get to see the Earth as if from space; an incredibly beautiful and precious place,” Jerram adds. “An ecosystem we urgently need to look after – our only home.”

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