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Van Gogh Alive at Birmingham Hippodrome

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Exhibition paints a picture of Van Gogh's life
You may know Vincent Van Gogh's famous paintings of sunflowers and starry nights but this new immersive art exhibition puts them into a whole new perspective.

Birmingham Hippodrome, van gogh alive, Birmingham
An immersive experience of Van Gogh's work


Birmingham Hippodrome's first major show since lockdown is this UK premiere of Van Gogh Alive that takes over the cavernous auditorium of the theatre.

Gone is the stage and seating in the stalls with the large space filled with huge screens (and even the floor) to display projections of Van Gogh's mesmerising artworks.

Dramatic well-chosen classical music accompanies over 3000 inspirational images of Van Gogh's most beautiful works.

There's the art and also poignant quotes from his many letters to paint a picture of the artist's life - from the Netherlands to Paris, Arles to Auvers-sur-Oise.

Van Gogh Alive Birmingham hippdrome
Vivid colours embrace you in the exhibition


Split into themes of work Van Gogh did at different points in his life and locations, the Sensory4 technology allows for crystal clear projections and movement in the paintings and brings them alive while allowing you to examine the brush strokes up close.

The vivid colours embrace you while the eyes in his self-portraits are memorably piercing. Along with the well-known bedroom, chair and pipe are lesser-known flowers and rural scenes.

It builds up to Van Gogh's collection of paintings that he drew as a patient at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy before his premature death, handled in a powerful but artistic fashion.

Van Gogh Alive Birmingham hippdrome
A chance to see brush strokes close up


The standout moments are still during Van Gogh's most popular pieces of yellow glowing sunflowers and the starry night of deep blues and stars.

The exhibition is beautifully curated and there is plenty of space to wander around while socially distancing. You can easily find a spot or even a bench seat to let the colours and atmosphere wash over you. Plus everyone wears masks so it feels very safe.

Van Gogh Alive Birmingham hippdrome
Some of Van Gogh paintings in the exhibition


Extras to the show include a re-creation of Van Gogh's 'Bedroom in Arles' and the hugely popular 'Immersive Sunflower Room' all in a COVID-safe environment.

This multi-sensory experience may be something very different from the usual panto this Christmas but it's also a lifeline for Birmingham Hippodrome, forced to cancel its theatre performances this year and make devastating redundancies due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

It's easy to see how this experience from Grande Exhibitions has attracted 6 million visitors across over 50 cities worldwide to date. Van Gogh Alive is uplifting, vivid and a unique art experience that should provide both the Hippodrome and exhibition visitors a gift over the end of this year.

Van Gogh Alive runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until December 31 and tickets cost from £15 at the theatre website here.

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Why? Immerse yourself in the work of Van Gogh in a new way
When: Until December 31, 2020
Phone: 0844 338 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, Birmingham, B4
Cost: From £15
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