LUKE JERRAM IS AT THE ORIGIN OF THE GAIA PROJECT, PRODUCED IN BEAUGRENELLE PARIS.
We interviewed Luke Jerram, a multidisciplinary British artist, who agreed to answer our questions to present his career and this project, which is now embarking on a world tour.
Q1 _ Who’s Luke Jerram?
Hello! I’m an artist based in Bristol, UK but I exhibit all around the world. My multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects.
Q2 _ When did you start your art practice?
Living in the UK but working internationally since 1997, I have been known globally for my innovative arts practice and large scale public artworks. With many of my artworks in permanent collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Wellcome Collection in London, I also tour my art installations to art festivals and museums and many of the established cultural organisations around the world.
Q3 _ How would you describe your imaginary?
I have a set of different narratives that make up my practice which are developing in parallel with one another. My ongoing research of perception is fueled by the fact that I am colour-blind. I study the qualities of space and perception in extreme locations, from the freezing forests of Lapland to the sand dunes of the Sahara desert. New ways of seeing and new artworks emerge from these research field trips. Works such as Retinal Memory Volume, Sky Orchestra and the Impossible Garden have emerged exploring the edges of perception. Published last year Luke Jerram: Art, Science & Play is a new book that describes my artwork and can be purchased here. ion, which can also disconnect them from daily life.
Q4 _ Where do you get your inspiration?
I am often generating ideas, to solve problems. The important thing it to try to start off by asking the right question in the first place. The right question, will lead to the right artwork.
Q5 _ Why are you so interested in plastic and public art?
I like making artwork that are immersive, that can surround the public in the form of an installation, to be experienced by the whole body of a person. I also try to make artwork that can be appreciated in different ways, by different ages and types of people.
Q6 _ Present GAÏA, how would you present this new art piece showcased for the first time in France?
The Gaia Earth artwork was made to communicate a sense of the fragility of our planet. Halfway through the Earth’s six mass extinction, we urgently need to wake up, and change our behaviour. Society needs to quickly make the changes necessary to prevent run away Climate Change.
The artwork was also made as a sister sculpture, to compare with the Museum of the Moon, which to date has been seen by over 3 million members of the public in more than 25 countries worldwide. For our entire human existence we have been gazing up at the moon and projecting all our hopes, dreams and wishes up there. Whereas for the Earth, it was only in 1968 through NASA’s Earthrise photo, that humanity was able to see our planet for the first time, as a blue marble of life, floating in blackness of space.
Q7 _ How can we look at this miniaturized planet Earth? What is the message you wish to convey?
I hope visitors to Gaia get to see the Earth as if from space; an incredibly beautiful and precious place. An ecosystem we urgently need to look after – our only home. Halfway through the Earth’s six mass extinction, we urgently need to wake up, and change our behaviour. We need to quickly make the changes necessary, to prevent run away Climate Change. There really is no Planet B!
Q8 _ In your opinion, what role can this type of work play in the fight to preserve ecosystems?
I’m hoping the artwork will help give people a new perspective on our planet. We need to change society to live more sustainably. The pandemic has shown that society can change quickly and dramatically when we need to.
I’m hoping visitors to the artwork will ask themselves questions about their lifestyle. In the context of a shopping mall, the days of disposable fast fashion must be over. We need to value the clothes we buy. We must, reuse and recycle in order to help slow the destruction of the planet. So much energy is wasted on making clothes that end up causing pollution in the environment. It has to stop!
Q9 _ How important is location in such a project?
Gaia is an installation artwork that combines the architecture of the space, the sculpture of the Earth and a surround sound composition. Each venue and host, has the opportunity to curate their own Earth and environmentally inspired events. Like many of my other artworks such as Museum of the Moon, Play Me, I’m Yours and Withdrawn, this work provides opportunities for collaboration and the creative input of others. I enjoy the unexpected outcomes of an artwork, when I leave space for the public or for other artists to be creative.
Q10 _How long does this type of project take between the idea and its first presentation?
Generally around 6 months. There’s often lots of testing, planning, fabrication to do.
Q11 _ Are new representations already planned?
Here are 2 new artworks I’ve just finished in the last few months….
www.memoriamartwork.com The touring installation is a temporary memorial for the public to visit and remember all those we have lost from the COVID-19 pandemic. The artwork is also made in tribute to all the healthcare workers and volunteers who have been risking their lives during the crisis. Presented in the open air and in windy locations, the structure allows the public to enter, contemplate and explore the artwork, whilst adhering to the rules of social distancing. The installation will also act as a space where events and ceremonies can be programmed to take place under the array of flags.
https://www.lukejerram.com/palm-temple/ Referencing the stained glass windows and bell towers of the Duomo in Florence, the Palm Temple is both an experimental optical pavilion and a contemplation space designed for the public to consider the impact humanity is having on nature.
Suspended in the apex of the dome will be an Extinction Bell, which tolls once, 150-200 times a day, at random intervals, indicating the number of species lost worldwide every 24 hours. This estimate of species loss is according to a 2007 UN Environmental Programme. The Extinction Bell raises awareness of the issue of biodiversity loss, makes audible events which are invisible to us, and which are occurring simultaneously across the world in multiple habitats.
Q12 _ During this so strange time, what is your dream for tomorrow?
I’d like to expand my art team, to work more with people to make new art projects come into being.
I’d like to make more artwork that is of value and a positive impact on society. My streetpianos artwork Play Me I’m Yours is a good example of that. www.streetpianos.com