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Wonderful Welly: Van Gogh Alive

October 20, 2020

On an overcast but surprisingly mild and dry night the other week I set out to the harbourside to check out a new installation that promised to be unlike any art exhibition I’d seen–Digital Nights Wellington – Van Gogh Alive.

It’s billed as “An outdoor debut of the world’s most visited multi-sensory experience celebrating the world’s most famous artist, Vincent van Gogh” so I was excited to experience it. After being postponed for a few weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions I was relieved to be able to get a ticket. Competition was fierce and they sold out pretty quickly.

digital nights wellington van gogh alive

The installation is in the form of projections of Van Gogh’s works on the side of shipping containers, which form a large circular area you can walk through. Dotted around are shipping containers, some piled on top of each other like Stonehenge, some on an angle, some just towering over you. Just the staging was an impressive feat.

And then the show begins.

la maison de vincent areles van gogh alive wellington
van gogh alive wellington irises

The shipping containers are lit up with stunning artworks and a beautiful classical score plays. Some of the artworks have animations, or pan and zoom to give a fluid, energetic experience. It’s so unlike any art exhibition I’ve visited before, made all the more magical by being open air.

wheat fields van gogh alive wellington
van gogh quote with portraits van gogh alive wellington

Periodically Van Gogh’s quotes in his handwriting would be projected across the top of some structures, they were poignant and sometimes painful.

theres nothing more truly artistic than to love people van gogh quote van gogh alive wellington
i will not live without love van gogh alive wellington

I loved being able to get so close to the art, to see the thick vivid brushstrokes. The texture of Van Gogh’s artwork was something that really impressed me and something that this exhibition showcased really well. Not to mention the colour.

irises paintings van gogh alive wellington
irises van gogh alive wellington
wheat field van gogh alive wellington

The show lasts around 20 minutes. It’s divided into different periods of Van Gogh’s life marked with a screen displaying the dates and locations. The music matched the mood of the paintings. A section that focused on his asylum pieces was really moving, whilst the score accompanying his hay field paintings was joyous and summery.

van gogh alive wellington paintings on shipping container
bearded man portrait van gogh alive wellington
starry night over the rhone van gogh alive wellington

My only gripe, that alas I wasn’t blessed with my own starry night on this occasion. I imagine under a clear sky the Van Gogh Alive experience is even more stunning.

starry starry night van gogh alive wellington
van gogh self portrait van gogh alive wellington

Van Gogh Alive Wellington was such an interesting experience and one of the more unique art installations I’ve seen. I left feeling really refreshed and nourished, which might sound strange, but there’s something really nourishing and soul-filling about enjoying art and music. Having all that outdoors was the cherry on top.

I’ve been in two minds about Van Gogh’s work since I was a student. I’m still not sure if I love it or not, but I certainly loved this exhibition.

Love Sarah x

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