New public artwork installed outside Chemistry Building


By Siavash Minoukadeh, Deputy Digital Editor

Luke Jerram's Palm Temple has been donated to the University by the artist and will be installed in the Chemistry Building's courtyard. Visitors will be able to walk inside the sculpture, provided social distancing measures are followed.

The donation follows a number of previous collaborations between Jerram and the University including Museum of the Moon (2017) and Gaia (2019) in which the artist installed illuminated models of the moon and the Earth in Wills Memorial Building's Great Hall. Jerram, who is originally from Bristol, was also awarded an honorary degree by the University in February of this year for his services to art.

The sculpture is made up of two semi-circles made from cedar with geometric coloured panels, reflecting the form of two hands clasped together in prayer or contemplation. The floor of the installation is mirrored, reflecting the sky.

The work is topped with an 'extinction bell' that will sound between 150-200 times a day at random intervals, reflecting the estimated number of species that are made extinct each day.

The environmental theme of the work is fitting, given the University's continuing research into ecology and its recent declaration of a climate emergency in April 2019.

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Palm Temple had originally been commissioned by Sky Arts to mark the 600th anniversary of the completetion of Florence's Cathedral, the Duomo di Firenze. It was previously  installed in London in January of this year but will now be permanently installed on campus.

A Timelapse of Palm Temple being installed in its initial London location | Luke Jerram

In a statement, Jerram said "living in Bristol for over 20 years, I'm always keen to contribute to the creative landscape of the city. After the presentation of the Palm Temple in London the artwork was looking for a permanent home. Like many of the artworks I've made in the past, I'm happy to give artworks away to cultural and educational institutions who might also allow the public to visit them."

Palm Temple is the latest addition to the University's public art installations which  also include Jeppe Hein's Follow Me (2009) and Katie Peterson's Hollow (2016), both of which can be found close to Palm Temple in Royal Fort Gardens.

Palm Temple joins other public artworks including Jeppe Hein's Follow Me (2009) in Royal Fort Gardens | Epigram / Cameron Scheidje 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof. Judith Squires said, "we are very excited to house the Palm Temple installation by Luke Jerram in the heart of our campus - and particularly grateful to Luke for donating this wonderful artwork to the University. We hope that it will provide joy and inspiration to our students, staff and visitors for years to come."

The installation is now open to the public for contemplation and is free to visit, although social distancing regulations must be followed, with only one household entering the installation at a time.

Featured image: Epigram / Bamidele Madamidola

Have you seen the new installation yet?


Siavash Minoukadeh

Deputy Digital Editor 2020-21 | 3rd year Liberal Arts | Overcaffeinated