Reflecting on Gaia

After spending three weeks here, Gaia has left us, onward to its next host. It feels like it does at home when you take your Christmas decorations down!

What an incredible three weeks it has been. Over 50,000 people came to visit the cathedral while it was here. Many of those visitors were new ones spanning the generations. It was lovely to see how people of all ages interacted with it. There wasn’t an occasion where I was in the cathedral during general visiting or Gaia by Night that someone wasn’t posing to hold the earth or balance it on their finger.

All those visitors were treated to the photography exhibition from Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the In This Together exhibition. The combination of exhibitions and Gaia worked perfectly together. There has been such wonderful feedback for both and for it all.

In addition to the exhibitions was the popular Pledge Tree, there were hundreds of pledges made and hung on the tree, there’s something special about these very personal messages and look forward to displaying these in the cathedral soon.

I am grateful to the cathedral team and all who gave time and energy to support Gaia. We couldn’t have done it without you. For those who visited, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! I’ve never seen the cathedral as busy as it has been over the last few weeks.

Something that returned to the cathedral was roof tours, dubbed Celestial Heights Tours, where visitors went into the cathedral roof space to see the artwork from a unique and very high (!) perspective. These booked prepaid tours could have sold 5 times over, due to the demand. The feedback was phenomenal, participants loved being in the cathedral roof space as much as looking upon Gaia from up high! Although several team members led the tour, I am particularly grateful to Colin and Nicola who led the lion's share. Watch this space for news about roof tours in 2024.

Without a doubt, Gaia by Night was my favourite time. The experience got better as it got darker. Especially as we got to the late time slot where there were often less than 100 people in the cathedral, often sat, in the dark mesmerised by it. If I were to go back and change anything, I would have added a later slot in total darkness.

We hosted several events while Gaia was here. The audience favourite was probably the sell-out Holst: The Planets, played on the Father Willis organ which plunged almost 500 people into total darkness aside from the illumination of the planet. My own favourite, aside from Gaia by Night was Underworld. The silent disco event ran in support of the local RCHT charity. A great atmosphere and a great time had by all dancing under and around Gaia.

Many have asked me whether Gaia was a success. Although this could be hard to define, as success is often defined differently depending on who asked the question. My answer has been that no matter how you define what success looks like; was a success from every angle. We welcomed new visitors, built engagement, explored our heritage, raised awareness of climate change, and generated much-needed income. We brought an impressive artwork to the communities of Cornwall, covered our costs, and drove footfall and business to the centre of Truro. It was absolutely a success.

I would like to extend my thanks to all who came, donated, attended the Gaia events, and shared their experience, including the amazing photos online making this one of the most memorable exhibitions at Truro Cathedral. 

And thanks to organisations who helped us to promote the Gaia exhibition such as Visit Cornwall and Visit Truro and Great Western Railway.

What next, I hope to talk about that soon, as we strive to bring more artworks to our local community for all to enjoy here in Cornwall.

Gaia Artwork:Luke Jerram