Gaia; an Earth Day reflection

Sometimes it’s good to step back from our day to day concerns and take in the bigger picture.

By Jo Overty, Project Officer, UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man

Sometimes it’s good to step back from our day to day concerns and take in the bigger picture.

They don’t come much bigger than Gaia, a six metre diameter installation – essentially a giant dangling globe – created by Luke Jerram, and it’s on show in the Isle of Man to coincide with Earth Day (22nd April).

The globe features detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface, set to a 30-minute soundtrack by BAFTA-winning composer Dan Jones.

It offers us a perspective you cannot see, unless you are Tim Peake or our own Nicole Stott.

Gaia's creators say: '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.'

Gaia makes us think about our beautiful planet, the damage humankind is doing to it, and our sense of responsibility for it.

The installation is in the stunning setting of St Thomas’s Church, Douglas, and the building’s stonework and frescos perfectly complement its colours. It is a brilliant location.

Sitting under it, you see mainly the southern hemisphere, of course, and my first thought was how ‘empty’ it is. So much ocean. How could human activity possibly be ‘winning’ over such a vast expanse of natural world.

I looked at New Zealand, which I have visited, and struggled with just how far away it is from our little Island.

The 30-minute soundtrack has dramatic music, voices, young and older, and, at one point, becomes a cacophony of noise, presumably to indicate the clashing narratives and chaotic state the world is in.

The climate crisis is described as ‘life or death’. If we heard that in any other setting, we'd run for our lives.

Some sat in silent awe, others posed for selfies (Earthies?) and children scampered around bright eyed or leapt up to try to touch it. Perhaps if we were all a bit more in touch with the planet things would be better.

There’s also a chance to add your pledge for the planet to a board and this 56 and three quarter year old added hers.

In 2024, alone, Gaia is visiting America, Canada, Finland, Scotland, Ireland and Lithuania.

A look at the science festivals and exhibitions Gaia has been to, or is going to, made me realise how brilliant it is that the Net Zero Isle of Man team have secured it for the Isle of Man, with support from Ørsted and Isle of Man Arts Council.

It's central to our role as a UNESCO Biosphere to connect people with the planet and the challenges it faces, but also educate, and promote engagement and enjoyment. Gaia does that.

There are daytime and evening sessions, including ‘quiet’ sessions, plus a brilliant programme of events, music, art etc, until 12th May. I think it will be quite magical to hear local musicians and singers perform under the spinning globe.

Many sessions are free. Booking is essential. Find out more and book here. I expect all sessions will book up fast (oh, and on that note, if you book but cannot go, please unbook to give others the opportunity).

It's easy to feel depressed about the climate and biodiversity emergencies but Gaia made me feel heartened by the ingenuity scientists, engineers and artists have displayed to bring this to our attention.

Now, to do a bit better for my planet. And get rid of that Duran Duran earworm…


Posted up on 20th April 2024


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