Have You Ever Tasted Art? Now You Can At Tate Britain

IK Prize 2015: Tate Sensorium ★★★★☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 35 months ago
Have You Ever Tasted Art? Now You Can At Tate Britain IK Prize 2015: Tate Sensorium 4
This painting by David Bomberg is accompanied by strong smells and sounds to draw the viewer into the work. Copyright Tate

The National Gallery recently mixed paintings with sound in a flawed but ambitious exhibition. Now Tate Britain has gone even further with art that stimulates all five senses and radically changes how viewers experience art.

A Richard Hamilton work featuring a woman is accompanied by the sounds of her heels as she walks around the pictured apartment and the added smell of hairspray wafting through the air.

The other works are more experimental: ultrasound waves are used to create textures on your hand as it hovers in mid-air then, elsewhere, we eat a rather bitter chocolate, provoking a vile mix of tastes, as we gaze at a Francis Bacon painting.

Not everything here hits the mark but this experimental show is definitely a memorable 15 minutes and visitors leave with a sheet pointing out how they reacted to each work with further recommendations of artworks to explore at Tate Britain, which is a nice touch. Considering the effort that has gone into this show, it's a delightful surprise that it's free entry.

A chocolate, loaded with flavours ranging from charcoal to tea, is to be eaten while admiring this Francis Bacon piece. Copyright Tate

However, this show is let down by the shambolic ticketing system — the worst we've come across.

Tickets are only allocated on the day, on a first-come-first-served basis in two batches, 10am and 2pm. This means there are lengthy queues at these times and even if you enter the museum as it opens, your entry may be for a slot two hours later. On a weekend, we reckon there will be a lot of disappointment.

Only four people are allowed in at a time, due to the constraints of the show, so the Tate should have known this logjam was going to happen before the show opened.

The decision to have no advance booking seems bizarre and technological problems meant our entry was further delayed by an hour. But at least we got in — the previous day had to be called off entirely due to technical issues.

This shambles is extremely disappointing as the exhibition itself is exactly the kind of experimental engagement with art that should be encouraged. A shame the entry process leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

IK Prize 2015: Tate Sensorium is on at Tate Britain until 4 October, entrance is free but be prepared to wait for tickets and the subsequent timed entry.

Also on at Tate Britain are the impressive sculptures of Barbara Hepworth and the great works marred by odd curation in Fighting History. Over at Tate Modern is the last few days of the rather dull Agnes Martin.

For upcoming major exhibitions see our top 10 Autumn and top 10 September exhibitions.

Last Updated 20 September 2015