Liverpool Cathedral unveils latest art exhibition

Thousands of pieces of coal suspended from the ceiling at Liverpool Cathedral as its latest spectacular art installation opens to the public. Tony McDonough reports

Coalescence by Paul Cocksedge is on display at Liverpool Cathedral. Picture by Gareth Jones


Liverpool Cathedral has welcomed members of the public to its latest free art installation.

Created by internationally acclaimed British designer Paul Cocksedge, Coalescence features thousands of pieces of coal are suspended from the ceiling. It will be on display until Sunday, March 12.

Spanning six metres in diameter, the thought-provoking artwork is made up of over half a tonne of coal. It created 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 Grade I listed building.

Paul Cocksedge has sourced the coal from one of the last remaining coal mines in the UK. Each individual piece is 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.

“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,” said Paul.

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.


Paul Cocksedge with his artwork Coalescence at Liverpool Cathedral. Picture by Gareth Jones


“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.”

Paul 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. This involved working with the city’s shipbuilders to push the boundaries of metalwork.

The Dean of Liverpool, The Very Revd Dr Sue Jones, added: “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.”

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