Take A Selfie In Van Gogh's Bedroom At This Immersive New Art Experience
An immersive experience on the South Bank offers the opportunity to step inside the vivid paintings of artist Vincent Van Gogh. The walls are covered with projections of his paintings, with hay bales and a cart in front of an enlarged landscape painting. A slightly odd shadow theatre dramatises his mental health issues.
There are no original Van Gogh works in the show, though the paintings which do feature are impressive 3D replicas that look very close to the real deal. The advantage of this is that you're allowed to touch the artworks — there's an enlarged section of one painting which visitors can run their hands along to feel the bumps of the thick paint strokes which Van Gogh is known for... without setting off alarms and getting a lifetime ban from The National Gallery.
Fans of museum exhibitions are most likely going to hate it, finding it gimmicky and tailored for Instagram (selfies in the replica of Van Gogh's bedroom in Arles will be popping up all over your feed). But this experience isn't for your standard museum visitor — we've had the excellent Van Gogh in Britain exhibition for that audience.
This experience is for all those who find art inaccessible, museum shows stuffy and end up being tutted at by fellow visitors for trying to take one too many snaps. It's also well designed for young children, with no ropes separating them from works, and the chance for little Van Gogh wannabes to practice their own drawing skills.
That doesn't mean the experience is without its flaws. There's a rather glitchy locational audio guide and a lot of context missing around the paintings, which would have been helpful in placing these works within the broader story of Van Gogh's life.
This experience is going to have just as many detractors as it's going to have fans, but it could be the access point for youngsters and non-art fans to engage with Van Gogh's paintings — triggering the desire to then go on and seek out his actual works. I'm hoping it's a rather pricey gateway drug to getting visitors hooked on the absinthe of Impressionism. If not, then at least it'll look good on the 'gram.
Meet Vincent Van Gogh is on at 99 Upper Ground until 21 May 2020. Tickets are £18-£21, including booking fees, for adults.
Last Updated 07 February 2020