From 10 July until 10 September, the giant Earth installation, Gaia by Luke Jerram, was hung in the Nave of Durham Cathedral – and the artwork saw visits to the cathedral increase by over 70 per cent on the previous year.
The installation provided not only a “fantastic photo opportunity” but the chance for visitors to reflect upon the health of the earth and the effects of climate change.
Over the 9 weeks, 140,000 people visited the cathedral to see Luke Jerram’s Gaia, with over 1,400 of those people booking one of the unique events – from yoga to silent discos.
Visitor figures in August alone show that the Cathedral saw an increase of 72% over the same time period in 2022.
Visitors from the North East, the UK and around the globe came to the cathedral, with many describing the artwork as ‘striking’ and ‘impressive’.
Andrew Usher, Chief Officer, the Visitor Experience and Enterprise at Durham Cathedral, said: “It has been our pleasure to host Luke Jerram’s Earth artwork this summer.
“We have loved seeing the reactions of our visitors as they entered the cathedral and caught their first glimpse of Gaia.
“Over the past 9 weeks, it has been the focal point for photos, a feature in some once-in-a-lifetime events and a topic of debate.
“Whatever people’s motivations for visiting Gaia, we hope the installation and the cathedral setting achieved the goal for our visitors to pause and reflect on our home planet and the current climate crisis we face.”
The impressive installation, at a size 1.8 million times smaller than Earth, provided a backdrop for planet-conscious events for a range of visitors. From Dinner under Earth in collaboration with REfUSE Cafe, made with intercepted food before going to waste, to lectures by the Durham Cathedral Institute, highlighting current environmental issues.
The income from these special events and visitor donations to the cathedral over the summer will support the cathedral’s conservation and enable the cathedral to continue to remain free to enter.
Canon Chancellor, The Revd Canon Charlie Allen, said: “Gaia has been a striking and poignant focal point within the cathedral, encouraging visitors and the local community to gaze in awe at the planet we call home – and to lament the ways in which we have failed to care for it.
“We hope that Gaia will have inspired us all to take seriously the challenge of climate crisis and to reflect on how we can live differently so that future generations may enjoy the abundance we so easily take for granted.”