Acomb Artonauts in the world of Van Gogh

The following is from a 15 year old participant. As an Art Ambassador, or ‘Artonaut’ as they became known, the writer was sent to Van Gogh Experience to consolidate their knowledge of the History of Art and innovative technology so that they could teach younger participants new art skills. This is the crux of the project and we are delighted with how successfully it was nailed. We are grateful to funding from City of York Council’s Acomb Ward and an extremely warm welcome from the Van Gogh Experience team.
Me and a group of teenagers visited York St Marys for the Van Gogh Experience. We had been teaching young children in June and July for New Visuality, and a trip to see what everyone was talking about was supposed to make us more appreciative of art history, modern art, and cutting edge tech.
Disclaimer: I had never set foot in York St Marys before, nor had any of my group. I am sure old churches will be important to us but we are 15 years old so I’m sure you won’t mind if I tell you a trip to St Marys was not top of my list.
Before I go on, I have to say the Van Gogh Experience is AM-AZ-ING. I had no idea what to expect. I had heard of Van Gogh but apart from him being a famous painter I didn’t know much else. Neither did anyone else in the group. The show was beautiful as soon as we walked in.
Personally, I’m not a big one for walking and so when I saw the deck chairs on offer I was like ‘Yes, ma’am’, and I lay down to watch.
I have never seen anything like it. There was painted water that spilled and flowed, the painted grass shivered in the breeze, even the painted stars twinkled better than any cinema experience I’ve ever seen.
There was paper for us to work on if we wanted to, and a couple of us did. I walked around a bit but kept on returning to the deck chairs. Seriously, if it was the first time anyone anyone offered YOU to kick back and watch the Milky Way come to life right in front of you, wouldn’t YOU take it?
So I left the others to the child friendly paper and art materials and I sat and just loved it. For 35 minutes which, for me, is unheard of.
I have been to York Art Gallery a couple of times before. I get painting, I really do, and I always planned to go and visit them a little bit more and ‘get’ them more as I got older. But this show just brought it to us on a silver plate that was just amazing and, yes, I will definitely go back and enjoy the paintings in York Art Gallery and places like Arts Barge, Art of Protest, and According to McGee, but I will never forget the first time the light bulb went off in my head. Thanks to the projections and amazing digital artwork of my new favourite painter, Van Gogh, and of course the great work of the staff who gave us such a lovely welcome. I really feel like I have been part of what York culture is for the first time.
The Van Gogh Experience is just that – an amazing experience.

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