UCL East


Gaia Public Programme

About Gaia

1.8 million times smaller than the real Earth, Gaia is a permanently installed artwork which embodies UCL as London’s Global University and is located in the atrium at UCL East Marshgate.

Artist Luke Jerram designed Gaia for people 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’.

Creating a sense of the ‘Overview Effect’, first described by author Frank White in 1987, the experience includes a feeling of awe and renewed sense of responsibility for the planet, as well as a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life.

Inspiring a new public programme at UCL East, Gaia acts as a visual reminder of our place on this planet, and our collective need to protect it.

Gaia Public Programme

1-2. TELLUS MATER photo: Leah Lovett
3-4. The Earth Makes No Sound photo: Kristan Lam Clark
5-6. Sing to Gaia, BBC Singers photo: BBC/Mark Allen

The Gaia Public Programme is a cultural programme of performances, talks and specially-commissioned arts projects which interrogate the many challenges that our planet and humanity faces, while celebrating the potential for future living.

Drawing on themes including the impact of climate change, mass migration, technological advancements such as AI, sustainability and community action, the programme brings together artists, communities and UCL East’s research, in an accessible arts-led public programme.

Launched in September 2023, the programme has so far seen over one hundred school children from Bobby Moore Primary and Secondary Academy, Hillyfield Primary Academy and St Winefride’s Catholic Primary School in East London perform with the BBC Singers, in a musical programme, Earth, Air and Moon, and broadcast on Radio 3.

In October 2023, performances of Earth Makes No Sound, an ever-evolving choral work inspired by the elements and changes happening to our planet, filled the atrium, lit by the glow of Gaia. Created by Filament Theatre, the performances featured a cast of company professionals with community singers from East London.

TELLUS MATER is an interactive installation which utilises recent developments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, enabling audiences to talk to Mother Earth. Trained on over 300 billion words, Tellus Mater uses a large language model to converse and generate answers to questions about the planet, ecology and imagined future, featuring an AI interface that thinks it is the spirit of the Earth itself. All interactions are logged as part of an ongoing series of Internet of Things-related research projects developed in CASA into conversations with objects in our built and natural environment. The work was created by Professor Andrew Hudson-Smith and Dr Leah Lovett of the Connected Environments Lab, UCL EAST, as part of The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

Check back for further programming announcements for 2024 and beyond…

More about Gaia & artist Luke Jerram