Stunning artwork to commemorate the 80th Blitz anniversary

Published Thursday, 29 October 2020

Coventry residents will have the chance to see Luke Jerram’s Gaia in a free ticketed event in November as part of the city’s commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Blitz.

Gaia at Bluedot 2018.
Gaia at Bluedot 2018. Photo by Michael Jones

The thoughtful and creative piece has also been specifically brought to the city to form a key part of this year’s Coventry Peace Festival and will be on display in the Coventry Cathedral ruins from the 13-14 November.

Gaia is a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Gaia measures seven metres in diameter and features detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surfacewhich offers viewers of the artwork the chance to see the earth in its true three-dimensional scale. A specially made surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones is played alongside 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.

By offering people the chance to view the earth, Gaia creates 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. 

This message of peace to the world reflects the city’s role in promoting peace and reconciliation across the world in the aftermath of the Blitz. Both during and following the event, residents are encouraged to share their reflections on the Blitz with both the Council and BBC Coventry and Warwickshire by using the #Blitz80.

As part of the project, the Council has partnered with BBC CWR with the aim of encouraging people to share their own messages of peace by using the #Blitz80 to mark this key anniversary in Coventry’s history.

The Lord Mayor of Coventry, Cllr Ann Lucas, said:

“The Blitz is synonymous with Coventry and it’s only right that on the 80th anniversary of it we reflect on how it has shaped our city.

 “This wonderfully moving event will be a fitting way to mark this anniversary. I hope that by encouraging people to really think about the Blitz and how it led Coventry to become the city of peace and reconciliation that it is today, we can inspire a new generation to carry this message of peace with them.

“I encourage people to get a ticket to this thought-provoking event and to join us in honouring those who lost their lives on that fateful night”

Cllr Abdul Salam Khan, Cabinet Member for Events, said:  

“The evening of 14 November 1940 changed Coventry forever. As the years continue to pass it’s incredibly important that we stop, reflect, and mark this anniversary.

“That’s why I’m delighted that we’re going to be marking it by hosting Luke Jerram’s Gaia in the Cathedral ruins. Gaia’s message of peace is a fitting tribute to the legacy of the Blitz in this city and I can think of no better place for us to reflect on the destruction of the Blitz and the heroism of those who fought that destruction, than the Cathedral. “

“This free event is accessible to all and will be COVID secure, so I encourage people of all ages and mobility to come and experience this fantastic event.”

Luke Jerram said:

Coventry Cathedral has such an incredible history, it’s wonderful to present my artwork in its grounds. I hope the artwork provides the public with an opportunity to discuss the changes we need to make in society to safeguard the future of our society and planet. The pandemic has been so devastating for many people, but at the same time has shown us that as a society we can pivot quickly to change our behaviour. By working together anything is possible.”

The Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry, added:

“We are delighted to have Gaia here in Coventry for this significant anniversary. This beautiful installation will help us recover a true perspective on our wonderful, shared, global home, and to understand afresh our responsibility to care for one another and our planet – the true practice of peace and reconciliation for our times.”

This deeply moving event is completely free of charge. However, so we can comply with the social distancing guidelines and ensure everyone gets to experience Gaia safely, you will need to book a ticket.

Visitors are also reminded that, while they’re in the Cathedral ruins, they must strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines, only visit and mix with members of their own household and ensure adherence to the rule of maximum of six in a group. Visitors may also wish to wear a face covering as an extra precaution.

Tickets give you a 30-minute slot at a set time for you to view the artwork with a maximum of six tickets per person, with children under 16 accompanied by an adult. They will be available from Monday 2 November on Eventbrite.  However, if people cannot access the ticket website, a very limited number of tickets will be made available on the day or night for each time slot for those unable to book tickets on the website and these are available on a first-come first-served basis.

In addition, ticket-holders are requested to arrive within their allocated 30-minute slot although they do not need to be there for the start of their slot and can stay as long or little with the sculpture unless the venue becomes too crowded in which case visitors will be asked to leave at the end of their booked time slot to allow the next timed group in. People are also requested to note there’ll be no toilet facilities within the ruins during performances.

Gaia is created in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Bluedot and the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres. With supporting partners Culture Liverpool and Liverpool Cathedral.

For more details about Gaia and the Coventry Peace Festival, please visit our Peace Festival web page and people are also encouraged to use #EarthArtwork as a tie-in with other Gaia presentations.

For more details about the social distancing measures in the city centre and COVID-19 in Coventry, please visit our Coronavirus web page.

Coventry City Council