Because it’s brilliant in my opinion and I’m not alone! Read on to find out why…
I had wanted to experience this exhibition from the moment I knew of its existence. I was aware that it had first taken place in France but I could never make the dates and venues work for me when I was in the country. When the exhibition came to London, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to attend but the tickets all sold out really quickly. However, my luck was in; the experience was extended and, at last, I was able to go.
This was also the first time I had been to London, for an exhibition, since ‘you-know-what’ arrived, so double the excitement! The location is in a 19th century stable building, opposite the Old Spitalfields Market at 106 Commercial Street, E1 6LZ.
The essence of the Van Gogh Immersive Experience is the idea that you are stepping into one of his paintings. You have the opportunity to explore his life and his work through innovative 360 degree digital projections, a unique VR experience, and an atmospheric light and sound show. The experience incorporates more than 200 of his works.
The exhibition is divided into three main sections. The first floor is a virtual museum where you are introduced to the works and life of Vincent Van Gogh. I don’t think I was aware how he painted a subject over and over again. There are several replicas of his most famous masterpieces, including these:
Van Gogh’s paintings of Sunflowers are among his most famous. Vincent painted a total of five large canvases with sunflowers in a vase, three shades of yellow ‘and nothing else’. He painted his first sunflowers in Paris, impressing the painter, Paul Gauguin, before he moved to Arles, in the South of France.
The clip below is nothing to do with the exhibition but I think it’s fun!
I’m not sure if we (I went with a friend) went round this exhibition in the ‘correct’ order but the next part was my favourite: ‘Virtual Reality’. This gives you the chance to experience ‘A day in the life of the artist in Arles’. You are given a VR headset, not something I’d experienced before, you sit on a chair and then you are taken on a 360-degree journey which revolves around seven of the works of Van Gogh.
You start in Van Gogh’s bedroom, go down the stairs (amazing!) and continue, via various paintings, until you end at ‘Starry Night over the Rhone’. The music also heightens and contributes to this brilliant experience. The VR experience is an extra £5 but absolutely worth it!
Still feeling overwhelmed by the VR journey, we set off to experience the actual ‘Immersive’ part. This takes place in a very large hall on the ground floor and the aim is to ‘show the depth of the artist’s art as well as his development of the various subjects he studied’. This is accomplished when more than 200 of his paintings are projected on 15,000 sq. ft screens, accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack.
There are deckchairs and benches for the audience, all upholstered in Van Gogh prints, although some people chose to sit on the floor. Wherever you look, you’re surrounded by Van Gogh’s masterpieces from floor-to-ceiling, day to night. The sound effects and animations are mind-blowing!
There is one final element that I haven’t mentioned and that is the area where you can create a masterpiece of your own! This is basically where you can select a template of one of Van Gogh’s paintings and colour it in.
I did attempt to take some photos and videos but I was so absorbed in what I was experiencing that at times I just forgot, plus I found it almost impossible to capture the spirit of the exhibition. You really have to go there yourself! Below is a promotional video:
I have to finish by saying that I’m not sure this type of exhibition would please everybody, particularly if you prefer to see original art work in a more traditional format. I am fortunate enough to have already seen Van Gogh originals in Amsterdam, Paris and London. However, this experience developed my knowledge and understanding of Van Gogh himself, as a painter and a man.
There are also different versions of this Van Gogh experience taking place across the world and, having read some reviews, they aren’t necessarily as good as the one I have described. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and I’d be very interested to know if you have seen this exhibition or anything similar.
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