Is Tate Britain’s Sensorium exhibition the future for experiencing art? Do the disadvantages outweigh the advantages?
Experiential art is not a not new concept. One of my favourite art exhibitions was La Trieste de Magris in Barcelona in 2011. A high powered wind fan simulating the brutal winter winds in the Italian city and an unsettling experience of a white padded cell had me hooked on experiencing art with more than your visual sense.
Tate Britain’s Sensorium (IK prize winner 2015) is a bold and clever attempt to get visitors to use all five senses.
Using four famous existing paintings, visitors spend 15 minutes smelling, feeling, and even tasting paintings. The paintings in Sensorium are:
- Figure in a Landscape by Francis Bacon
- In The Hold by David Bomberg
- Full Stop by John Latham
- Interior II by Richard Hamilton
The most recent on display is Interior II by Richard Hamilton painted in 1964. Sensorium brings these paintings into the present day.
I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil the surprise of what Sensorium has in store, but I will say I loved every cue Tate Britain has placed.
Visitors are given a wristband to wear which measures your perspiration. At the end, visitors are given a graph which shows your levels of perspiration during each painting to show which encouraged the most reaction.
The clues definitely helped me to ‘experience’ the paintings and formulate an opinion about the contents and meaning.
The wonderful thing about viewing art is it is subjective. It’s like those ink blot tests. Everyone interprets different objects and ideas and tries to make sense of what they are viewing.
Does Sensorium help or force viewers to experience and come to the same conclusions?
Looking back at the paintings without the aid of the Sensoriums cues, I would have arrived at different interpretation. The group I was in seemed to think along the same lines too.
Tate Britain should be applauded for the Sensorium exhibition as it will definitely introduce art to a new group and generation. I think the interactive element will please adults just as much as kids. The exhibition may even turn the heads of naysayers and those who dismiss art.
Tips for the Sensorium tickets and queue
Tickets are limited because Sensorium is shown in groups of four every 15 minutes. There is no pre-booking available and tickets are sold at 10 and 2 every day.
This means if you are a group of three or four, you should queue up early to ensure you see Sensorium as one party. Queueing up early will also mean that, for example, you don’t have to wait close to four hours when you collect your tickets at 10.
There was already quite a long queue 15 minutes before tickets were collected at 2. A Tate staff member at the information desk suggested the exhibition was more popular in the afternoon.