The Earth to hang inside city cathedral

THE UK’s largest cathedral will be home to the Earth this weekend as a prelude to Liverpool’s popular River Festival.

Gaia, a 23ft replica of the Earth featuring accurate and detailed NASA imagery, will hang from the Anglican Cathedral’s Well – and for one of the first times anywhere in the world, the installation will rotate to bring the artwork alive. The rotation is 360 times faster than our real planet, turning once every four minutes.

In Greek mythology, the name Gaia means the personification of the Earth.

It will open to the public on Saturday 25 May – a week before the free maritime festival takes place on Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 June.

It has been created by renowned British artist Luke Jerram, and will be complemented with a sound composition created by BAFTA and Ivor Novello award-winning composer Dan Jones.

The installation will be in place for four weeks (until Sunday 23 June) and a programme of free events and talks will take place beneath the suspended globe.

Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “We know how incredible the moon looked in the cathedral last year, and a rotating earth is going to look equally as captivating.

“The environment and climate change is high on the news agenda and as well as being stunning to look at, Gaia will be a thought-provoking piece of art which will allow us to appreciate the fragility of the world we live in.

 As 71 per cent of the earth is water, it is appropriate this artwork forms part of Liverpool’s River Festival. This year is very much a celebration of the heritage of iconic port, and how it has put Liverpool on the map as an arrival and departure base for culture, music, food, drink and art.”

These include interactive storytelling for youngsters, a piano recital by award-winning pianist William Bracken, poetry readings, performances by the Liverpool String Quartet, songwriter and singer Lizzie Nunnery will present new material inspired by Gaia, unique play sessions for children and their parents or carers will take place as well as a relaxing yoga session.

There will also be a number of autism-friendly ‘quiet-hour’ sessions, where visitors can view the earth in peaceful surroundings.

A ticketed event will see Britain’s first astronaut, Helen Sharman CMG OBE, take part in a special ‘in conversation with’ event on Sunday 2 June. Helen will talk about her experience of space travel and the intense preparation that went in to her launching into the history books in May 1991. The following day, Helen will take part in a private event for school children. This event also forms part of Liverpool’s RISE programme which celebrates extraordinary women.

For full details of the programme and to book tickets, visit www.theriverfestival.co.uk. Viewing times for Gaia differ each day, so refer to the website for the latest information.

The artwork forms part of the ‘Changing Tides’ creative programme, which last year saw the Museum of the Moon installed in the Cathedral attracting 60,000 visitors to the venue in just two weeks.  This year’s programme celebrates the port of Liverpool as an arrival and departure base for exemplary culture, music, food and wine from all over earth.

For full details of the programme, including locations of events and times, visit www.theriverfestival.co.uk or follow @riverfestlpool on Twitter, or River Festival Liverpool on Twitter and Instagram.