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Thousands of pieces of coal suspended from Liverpool Cathedral ceiling as part of a monumental artwork

A huge sculpture, made from thousands of pieces of coal, is suspended from the ceiling at Liverpool Cathedral as artist Paul Cocksedge shines a light on energy consumption.

Thousands of pieces of coal are suspended from the ceiling at Liverpool Cathedral as part of a monumental artwork, created by internationally acclaimed British designer Paul Cocksedge. The Coalescence art installation, which makes its world debut at Liverpool Cathedral, opens today (9 February) and runs until 12 March.  

Picture by Gareth Jones

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. 

Picture by Gareth Jones

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.

Picture by Gareth Jones

Speaking about Coalescence at Liverpool Cathedral, award-winning designer and artist, Paul Cocksedge, whose work has been shown at iconic locations around the globe, 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. His previous work also includes KISS for City of Milan; Please Be Seated for London Design Festival and British Land; the Living Staircase for Ampersand in London; and an acclaimed solo exhibition at the Friedman Benda Gallery in New York. 

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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