Futuristic art show devoted to Van Gogh arrives in Edinburgh

It is a cutting-edge cultural experience that has transformed one of Edinburgh’s most under-used public spaces to bring the work of one of the world’s greatest artists to new audiences.

Wednesday, 16th March 2022, 11:50 am

A futuristic exhibition devoted to the work of Vincent Van Gogh, which sees digital recreations of his paintings projected onto 30 giant video screens, has transformed Festival Square, in the heart of the city’s cultural quarter.

The site sandwiched between the Usher Hall and the five-star Sheraton Grand Hotel is the only Scottish location for Van Gogh Alive, an immersive art show combining animation, cinema-quality surround sound and even fragrances.

Billed as a multi-sensory experience charting the life of the artist through his work, it allows people to experience the sensation of walking into – and on top of – the 19th-century artist’s paintings as they come to life while immersed in classical music.

The Van Gogh Alive art show is running in Edinburgh from 17 March till 17 July. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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    Van Gogh Alive, which opens on Thursday and will be in Festival Square until July 17, also features interactive art stations for visitors to learn artistic skills, a “sunflower selfie room” and a life-size representation of Van Gogh’s bedroom.

    More than 3,000 different images have been used to create the show, which is said to have been seen by more than 8.5 million people in 75 cities around the world so far.

    Dan Flynn, head of marketing at Van Gogh Alive UK, said: “It is literally an immersive experience to stimulate the senses.

    "As you walk into the main space, you are greeting by 30 screens which project up to 3,000 images over a 45-minute loop.

    The Van Gogh Alive art show is running in Edinburgh from 17 March till 17 July. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

    “We’re using technology which effectively breaks down Van Gogh’s work over the course of his life into various elements and overlaid them on top of each other to create a sense of movement."

    Van Gogh Alive, which is said to be the world’s most visited sensory experience, has been created by the Australian company Grande Experiences.

    Mr Flynn added: "We don’t think there has been anything like this in Scotland before in terms of an immerse digital experience and we think this kind of exhibition is here to stay.

    "More than 500,000 tickets were sold when Van Gogh Alive was previously in London, Birmingham and Salford and we’ve no doubt that it will be just as popular in Edinburgh too.

    The Van Gogh Alive art show is running in Edinburgh from 17 March till 17 July. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

    "It is very rare to get an attend an event where you can find a toddler walking around totally immersed in the experience at the same time as a couple in their 80s. It’s been attracting a really diverse array of visitors.

    "It’s definitely not a traditional style of art gallery – people don’t have to tip-toe around and we really want them to really engage with the whole experience.”

    It is hoped the Van Gogh show will breath new life into Festival Square and help boost the recovery of the city centre as it emerges from the pandemic.

    Official partners include the nearby whisky visitor centre Johnnie Walker Princes Street, which opened in September.

    The Van Gogh Alive art show is running in Edinburgh from 17 March till 17 July. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

    Rob Maxwell, head of the attraction, said: “Nobody would argue Edinburgh’s status as a global hub for arts and culture. Attracting world renowned exhibitions like this is further proof the city’s star continues to shine brightly.

    "It’s fantastic to have such a wonderful experience only a stone’s throw from our own.”

    The Van Gogh Alive art show is running in Edinburgh from 17 March till 17 July. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
    The Van Gogh Alive art show is running in Edinburgh from 17 March till 17 July. Picture: Lisa Ferguson