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New art installation at Liverpool Cathedral shines a light on energy consumption

A new art installation made up of thousands of pieces of coal has been suspended from the ceiling at Liverpool Cathedral by British designer, Paul Cocksedge.

The Coalescence art installation, which makes its world debut at Liverpool Cathedral, runs from 9 February until 12 March.   

Spanning six metres in diameter, the thought-provoking artwork is made up of over half a tonne of coal, creating a visual representation of how much power it takes to keep a single 200W light bulb switched on for a year.  

Coalescence has been crafted using anthracite, a type of coal with a high lustre, which reflects the light, sparkling with unexpected beauty as it hangs from the vast Gothic ceiling of the magnificent Grade I listed building.  

The material has been specially sourced from one of the last remaining coal mines in the UK with each individual piece being hand-drilled and carefully arranged to create the visually arresting suspended sculpture.   

Prompting questions around energy consumption, the history of fossil fuels and the need to reach net zero, Coalescence connects to a wider conversation about where energy comes from, how it is sourced and what it costs. Challenging the perception that all coal is dirty and polluting, the installation also explores the beauty and value of different types of materials. 

Speaking about Coalescence at Liverpool Cathedral, award-winning designer and artist, Paul Cocksedge said: “As a sculptural representation of energy, the inspiration for Coalescence comes from a simple calculation, which shows that it takes over half a tonne of coal to power just one lightbulb for a year. I found this fascinating. 

“Coalescence is designed to spark curiosity and encourage conversation around energy consumption. What makes the artwork so visually attractive is the surprising beauty of the highly reflective material, despite the common preconception that coal is ugly and dull. This is an artwork of epic scale and I am excited to be showing the piece for the very first time at Liverpool Cathedral, with its incredible Gothic architecture setting the scene for contemplation.” 

The Dean of Liverpool, The Very Revd Dr Sue Jones, said: “We’re extremely grateful to have the opportunity to host such a wonderful artwork at Liverpool Cathedral. Coalescence raises some important questions around energy usage and sustainability. The installation also serves as a reminder that beauty can be found all around us, often in the most unexpected of things.  

“The captivating artwork connects us to the striking beauty of thousands of pieces of gleaming anthracite coal, which almost has a crystal-like appearance as it sparkles in the light above the Cathedral Well. I hope visitors will take time out to look up and wonder in peaceful reflection as they appreciate the installation in all its splendour.”  

As a designer, Paul Cocksedge has spent much of his time working with local craftsmen and many of his pieces have been created in Liverpool including his copper and aluminium Freeze desk, which involved working with the city’s shipbuilders to push the boundaries of metalwork.  

The Coalescence installation, supported by Carpenters Workshop Gallery, forms part of a programme of events, exhibitions and artworks leading up to Liverpool Cathedral’s 100th anniversary, which falls next year.  

For more information about Coalescence and the wider events programme at Liverpool Cathedral, please visit liverpoolcathedral.org.uk and for further details on Paul Cocksedge, please visit www.paulcocksedgestudio.com.  

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