This month, we at The Mancunion finally made a visit to Van Gogh Alive in MediaCityUK, an immersive experience which has taken the world by storm in a short period of time. You’ve no doubt seen photos of the experience on Instagram, and if you aren’t at least a little intrigued by the concept of an immersive take on an iconic, historic artist like Van Gogh, you truly are one of a kind (and not in a good way).
Since opening in Manchester last October, Van Gogh Alive has already attracted over 120,000 visitors. The demand for tickets has not calmed down, leading the experience’s creators to extend its MediaCityUK run by over a month.
The extension gives members of the public a final chance to see the iconic ‘Sunflower Selfie room’ and the life-sized, walk-in representation of Van Gogh’s ‘Bedroom in Arles’ painting. The experience has been visited by a number of celebrities, including football pundit Gary Neville and actresses Jorgie Porter and Dame Maureen Lipman, the latter of whom said, “No wonder the world has gone mad for this exhibition – it made my heart sing and feet dance.” You rarely hear Lipman say a positive word about anything, so if that doesn’t convince you to visit this experience, I don’t know what will…
Created by Grande Experiences, the spectacular, immersive gallery exhibits the life and work of the seminal Dutch artist, Van Gogh. Housed in a 17,500ft2 purpose-built venue in the middle of MediaCityUK, the experience is a feast of sight, sound and even scent. More than eight million people have flocked to see Van Gogh Alive across 75 countries.
The exhibition offers you the chance to experience the work of Van Gogh beyond the walls of a museum. It physically immerses you within the life and works of the artist, changing the way visitors experience art by removing the concept of traditional museum visits often associated with quiet galleries, white walls, and glass-covered art works admired from afar. The mission to make art more accessible is really quite admirable. Van Gogh Alive challenges the senses with sound, 3,000 moving images of Van Gogh’s seminal work using state-of-the-art SENSORY4™ immersive gallery technology in bright technicolour, and even the scents of Provence as you move through the experience!
The exhibit begins by allowing you to climb into a painting. A life-sized recreation of ‘Bedroom in Arles’ truly brings the painting to life. You can sit on Van Gogh’s bed and chair, use his mirror, and of course pose for a photo in one of the most recognisable bedrooms in history. Where else does a painting spring out into life sized, touchable, three-dimensional reality?
The next stop is the main part of the exhibition. Van Gogh’s art is projected on to countless walls as beautiful music soothes your soul. I particularly liked the movement of the art, for instance, the moving clouds. Life is breathed into the still, 2D paintings that we love and adore.
The most notable part of the exhibition has to be the immersive Sunflower room. If you love a good selfie then prepare yourself for then this room is for you. This mirrored room, complete with hundreds of sunflowers, provides an incredible backdrop for a selfie, which will make you the envy of your Insta followers.
After this, you can try your hand at recreating Van Gogh’s iconic artworks. Visitors are offered the chance to use his techniques and learn his craft to create their own masterpiece in the Art Activity Area. Featuring informative video tutorials, you will get hands-on experience in drawing techniques, perspective, and composition. With three graded tutorials on offer, novices and skilled artists can hone their skills side by side.
Tickets are priced from £22.00 for adults and £15.00 for children, with concessions and school group discounts available. Visitors can opt to support The Christie charity when booking or visiting. Event organisers are hoping to raise vital funds for the charity, to continue its incredible work leading the way for cancer care, research, and education. Controlled visitor capacities and managed visitor flow mean visitors can easily respect any Covid-19 guidelines and enjoy the experience safely.
Van Gogh Alive is at MediaCityUK until 27th February, before visiting other UK cities. Gogh whilst it’s still there!