“At St Peter Mancroft, we declare a climate emergency.”

So said Revd Dr Fiona Haworth, Associate Priest at St Peter Mancroft and project lead for the Gaia Exhibition, yesterday, as Gaia, a 6m globe hanging, suspended above the Chancel was officially welcomed to Norwich, it’s home for the next month. Visitors can wander underneath it and experience a new perspective on our fragile planet.

Designed by Luke Jerram, Gaia allows us to see our planet, floating in three dimensions. We can share the experience of astronauts in a feeling of awe for our planet home. This viewpoint provides a new appreciation of the inter-dependence of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the natural environment.

A specially made surround-sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones is played alongside the artwork.

It is beautiful and hypnotic, infusing a childlike sense of wonder as you observe the scale of our blue planet, and a little giddy at the same time. For me, the feeling can be perfectly summed up by a line by the Snail from Julia Donaldson’s book, The Snail and the Whale:

“She gazed and gazed, amazed by it all,
And she said to the whale, ‘I feel so small’”

The soundtrack washes over you almost subliminally, save for every now and then, when you tune in – or it catches you. The sound of the planet gently turning is white noise-esque. Coupled with Gaia’s magnificent setting in the stunning medieval church that has so long been a part of Norwich, the sounds and sights are a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional experience.

We were there today for Gaia’s official welcome, at which St Peter Mancroft, Norwich made a public declaration of a Climate Emergency.

MP Clive Lewis and the Lord Mayor, Kevin Maguire, were present and made statements in the shadow of Gaia. These included one phrase from Clive that really resonated with me:

“Gaia enables us to see the scale of the huge challenge but also the beauty of what’s at stake.”

If you get the chance to experience Gaia, we think you will see what he means. It is a wonderful exhibition, and suitable for all ages.

Gaia will be in St Peter Mancroft in Norwich city centre until 31st October 2021.
Opening Times: Mon-Sat 10am-3:30pm, Thursday Late Nights 6-8pm.
Entry is free, save for some special events, including tower tours, which we highly recommend as an incredible way to view Gaia.

More information and details on all the events taking place can be found at www.stpetermancroft.org.uk/Gaia

Gaia in the Chancel at St Peter Mancroft church in Norwich.