The Palm Temple is an artwork commissioned by Sky Arts in Italy for presentation in Lewis Cubitt Square, London January 24- Feb 17th 2020.
In September 2019, Luke Jerram was approached by the production company 3D Produzioni in Milan about making an artwork to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Brunelleschi’s dome of Florence Cathedral (Duomo di Firenze). The artwork had to be at least 5m in height and fabricated quickly for a temporary presentation. The design and making of the artwork is currently being filmed for the programme.
Luke developed several concepts but the final artwork commissioned is based on a spiralling lamella dome structure. This dome is cut in half and the two halves placed in parallel, like two palms of each hand coming together in prayer.
While Florence Cathedral is a temple for contemplating God, this new artwork is designed for contemplating 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. The Extinction Bell artwork has recently featured on the BBC Radio4 programme Front Row.
Placed in the landscape, people can enter the pavilion for contemplation. The artwork is being made from cedar wood and references stained glass with its dichroic panelled windows. The floor is mirrored which reflects the dome above. From inside, the effect is spectacular. On Instagram the public are posting photos using #palmtemple
Connecting the sky and clouds with the ground, the Palm Temple will change minute by minute with the shifting weather patterns and time of day. At night the artwork will be internally illuminated.
Luke says “Expressing my interest in sacred architecture, I hope the public enjoy exploring this new pavilion. 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.”
Weighing 2 tons the artwork is 5m tall x 10m long x 3.2m wide.
Fabricated with CAD design and fabrication from Richard Stump and John Hall. Engineering analysis from Structural Solutions. Thanks to Skye Arte for the commission and to 3D produzioni for helping to assemble the artwork in London! With thanks to Coal Drops Yard for hosting the artwork.