Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 24, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Arts & Lit Review: Vincent Van Gogh immersive exhibition in Bristol

Review: Vincent Van Gogh immersive exhibition in Bristol

Rosie Batsford discusses her experience of the infamous Vincent Van Gogh Exhibition
3 minutes read
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Image: Jeff Vincent, Flickr

Shortly after COVID restrictions were lifted, immersive exhibitions entered venues in cities around the world, and they haven’t left our Instagram feeds since.

The day after my final A-Level exam (22nd of June 2022, to be precise), I visited the Vincent Van Gogh immersive experience at Propyard Bristol. I went in with few expectations, and after reading reviews likening it to an expensive screen saver, I didn’t have high hopes. However, from my first few moments in the exhibition, I couldn’t understand why there were so many negative reviews.

I couldn’t understand why there were so many negative reviews.

The first part of the experience sets the scene for Vang Gogh’s work, with replicas of his paintings, information about his artistic process, and excerpts from letters to his beloved brother, which I found particularly emotive. With this foundation, we looked at his inspirations and home life, including a to-scale replica of Van Gogh’s famous bedroom in Arles. Seeing the parallels between his life experiences and his artistic journey was fascinating.

Following this, there was a large room filled with deck chairs and pillows, music, and the ‘immersive’ work of Vang Gogh on the walls (this is the bit you most often see on Instagram). I found this moving, particularly with the added knowledge of his troubled life and upsetting death – I must have spent upwards of an hour here. It felt like stepping foot into Van Gogh’s work and experiencing the creative process first-hand.

I must have spent upwards of an hour here.

The rest of the experience was split into smaller sections; first, there was a 360 VR experience, walking you around where Van Gogh found inspiration for his art. I had used VR before, and it did take a few moments to adjust, but this is definitely one of the stand-out parts of the experience. I loved seeing where my favourite Van Gogh painting ‘Café Terrace at Night’ is set and hearing the story behind it. The second section was colouring in stations with blank printouts of his paintings – this was definitely aimed at children, although at least 90% of the people getting stuck in were adults. Finally, a fan favourite, the gift shop, full of Van Gogh-themed items; I purchased several wall prints, but as in any gift shop, I could’ve easily spent worrying amounts of money.

Overall, immersive experiences are absolutely worth attending; this was a truly unique exhibition, and I left this immersive experience feeling more interested in his art than ever before. Immersive experiences are now easily found around the world, and with vast variation in themes, you’re bound to find an event to pique your interest – Exeter Cathedral has hosted immersive events in recent months, including Luke Jerram’s Gaia in February and a Renaissance Sound and Light Show in March. Keep an eye out on their events page to see what’s coming up!

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