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Awe-inspiring installation Gaia returns to the Old Royal Naval College post-lockdown
Sunday 30th May – Thursday 1st July 2021 Press view: 10am, Tuesday 1st June, 2021
Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, Greenwich, SE10 9NN
Following a sold-out installation in summer 2020, the jaw-dropping Gaia is returning to the Old Royal Naval College this summer. Due to popular demand, Gaia will be displayed in the magnificent Painted Hall for a month, including late night openings. This monumental sculpture by Luke Jerram amazes audiences as it rotates slowly while suspended in mid-air, an exact scale replica of Earth made using NASA imagery.
The artwork aims to inspire a sense of the ‘Overview Effect’ that astronauts experience when they see Earth from space – feelings of awe, and an understanding of the interconnection of all life, particularly profound after a year when many people have been unable to connect with others due to the pandemic. Gaia acts as a mirror to society to provide the viewer with a new perspective of our precious planet, its outdoor spaces and nature, and the importance of being connected.
The internally-lit Gaia is 1.8 million times smaller than Earth, with each centimetre of the sculpture representing 18km of the Earth’s surface. By standing 211 metres away from the slowly rotating artwork, viewers can see the Earth as it appears from the moon while enjoying a specially made surround-sound composition by BAFTA award-winning composer Dan Jones. The sculpture provides an amazing opportunity for visitors to the Painted Hall to view Earth as it appears from space, floating in three dimensions like a ‘blue marble’.
Gaia Friday night openings will illuminate visitors’ worlds every Friday in June. These exciting late- night openings will allow visitors into the Painted Hall after hours, and include extended hours on the first day of opening, Sunday 30th May, and Sunday 6th June. The late-night openings will also include afterhours access to the Painted Hall Café to enjoy food and drink along with the Baroque and contemporary art upstairs in the Hall.
Matthew Mees, Chief Executive of the Old Royal Naval College comments, The wonder of Gaia as a thoughtful and illuminating work of art needs to be seen to be believed, especially against the magnificent Baroque setting of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College. We were overwhelmed with the response it received last year and so are delighted to be given the opportunity to install Jerram’s thought-provoking work once again and to give more people e a chance to visit and experience it for themselves.
The Painted Hall will be open as usual during the Gaia installation and talks and events will continue as programmed. Gaia was previously displayed at the Old Royal Naval College as part of Greenwich+Docklands International Festival 2020.
The Old Royal Naval College is reopening its beautiful outdoor grounds, café and gift shops from 12th April. There will be digital events including award-winning playwright Adeola Solanke’s Phillis in London, set in the Painted Hall, and online drawing workshops held by illustrator Nick Ellwood in April and May. The Old Brewery is reopening for outdoor dining, and there will be pop-up food stalls outdoors every weekend, with picnic baskets and deck chairs available for visitors.
Notes to Editors
Dates Sunday 30th May – Thursday 1st July 2021
Title Gaia late night openings
Dates Sunday 30th May 5.30pm – 10pm Sunday 6th June 5.30pm – 10pm Friday 4th June 5.30pm – 10pm Friday 11th June time 5.30pm – 10pm Friday 18th June time 5.30pm – 10pm Friday 25th June time 5.30pm – 10pm
Artist Luke Jerram
Composer Dan Jones
Image Colin B. Mackenzie/Old Royal Naval College
Social Media #OldRoyalNavalCollege #PaintedHall #GaiaPaintedHall #EarthArtwork Twitter @orncgreenwich
Facebook and Instagram @oldroyalnavalcollege Website www.ornc.org
Old Royal Naval College
Old Royal Naval College is the centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a long and celebrated 500-year history. Today it is a diverse cultural destination and one of London’s most popular venues and visitor attractions, a site that attracts over 1.2 million visitors every year.
The classical buildings that adorn the site today were built as the Royal Hospital for Seamen between 1696 and 1751. Designed by England’s greatest architects, including Sir Christopher Wren, the buildings are considered amongst the finest in Europe, featuring the sumptuous Painted Hall and the neo-classical Chapel. Prior to that the site was home to the celebrated Greenwich Palace, the favoured Royal residence of Henry VIII. A small part of the excavated palace, revealed during recent conservation works, can be viewed in The Sackler Gallery in the King William Undercroft.
The rich maritime history of the site continued after the departure of the Royal Hospital in the 1860s. From 1873 to 1997 the buildings housed the Royal Naval College, one of the world’s foremost naval training establishments. After the departure of the Naval College an independent charity was established in 1997 to conserve the magnificent baroque buildings and grounds for present and future generations and to provide opportunities for wide and diverse audiences to enjoy and share their significance. Today this historic landmark is open to the public.
The Painted Hall, built as a ceremonial dining room, has the greatest grand-scale decorative painting in England and has been described as ‘Britain’s Sistine Chapel’. The abundant and complex painting scheme covers some 4,000 square metres and was designed and executed by Sir James Thornhill between 1707 and 1726. An extensive National Lottery Funded renovation project was completed in 2019. The Chapel of St Peter and St Paul is a neo-classical masterpiece by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart.
Featuring a Samuel Green organ and an altarpiece painted by Benjamin West, it is one of the country’s finest 18th-century interiors.
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