Something strange has appeared outside the Holburne Museum this week. An otherworldly form, slightly shifting and vibrating with muffled shrieks of delight coming deep from inside.
It's not some bizarre alien life-form from a distant galaxy set up camp on the green lawns of the museum, but is in fact Colourscape, a sensory experience playing tricks on your eyes and filling the air with sonic intrigue echoing through it's gentle pulsating chambers. People are curious, some even a little nervous (young and old) but inquisitiveness will get the better of you and you'll have to take the brave step inside to immerse yourself in the incredible sensory experience.
And crowds have been flocking to the peculiar structure in the thousands, word has got around that this is one attraction not to be missed over the summer holidays.
So, what can you expect as you put on a rather snazzy cape? (mine had special stars on, I felt like a wizard). With only one point of entry and exit, a giant opening entices you into the first room, a breeze of air greets you from the inflated chamber and as you excitedly kick off your footwear...(socks and cheesy feet only, please) you can hear the sounds of children and adults joyously laughing and cooing at something, just out of sight from where you stand.
This first chamber you discover is deliberately darker, a grey colour designed to allow your eyes to adjust to the conditions.
(Enter into a rainbow world below:)
From here, you take a tentative step into the unknown into the second chamber where you are immediately greeted with a breathtaking, dazzling bold block of pure colour before your eyes. The ambient daylight from outside picks up the tone, be it red, blue or vibrant green and each chamber is bathed in this pure light - overcast days creating an even natural tone within the structure and is actually preferable than bright sunny weather outside (not to mention, cooler - it's already toasty and warm in here so I can imagine on a hot day could be a thirsty experience! (Top tip: Bring a bottle of water)
Underfoot is soft to the touch, you walk almost on a cushion of air and each oval shaped chamber has a narrower entrance and creates a sequence of rooms and corridors that lead you through the giant artwork - and that's the key thing here, it's a huge art installation - full of magnificent eye candy - it's something that has to be discovered in person - the bold blocks of red in particular are incredible, everything simply turns red, you look down at your hands and they merge with the walls - peoples faces take on a completely different characteristics as their features glow in the bizarre light.
One neat trick is to look through the corridors into the separate coloured chambers, your eyes begin to twitch and dance as you try to separate the colours from their neighbour - this clash is incredible and you actually start to see new tones as your eyes begin to fool your brain.
But that's not all - as you randomly walk through the tunnels each room takes on a new audio tone as your perception of the sounds around begin to change - peoples voices sound strange, conversations in other chambers echo and distort and to top it off there are also hidden sounds behind the walls leading you astray and tempting you deeper into the next room.
Now, none of this is bad, it's freaky and bizarre for sure, but not scary and actually a whole lot of fun. The children are having a fantastic time - I saw so many kids having a sensory overload and parents and relatives alike sharing in this incredible experience, beaming smiles all round, cameras held out capturing the adventure. (Another Top tip - bring a camera!)
Ultimately everyone here is on a journey, we're all in this together and for half an hour I'll bet that no-one inside this place is thinking of anything else from their lives other than what they can see and hear before them - The fact that your usual perception of colours and sound is playfully adjusted you can't think of anything else! For this time - you are simply in the moment - a bonkers and bewildering moment at that!
Every great journey has to end somewhere and inside Colourscape we are lead into one final chamber, completely different from the rest and without the shrills and whooping sounds from the bright rooms previously. There's a strange melody and ambient percussion pulling us into this new place. We've arrived at the inner-sanctum, a place where the walls are void of colour - it's pure white and reminiscent of set designs from 1960's Sci-Fi shows, like Lost in Space or Barbarella.
A giant dome reaches above and a perfectly circlular floor allows you to sit and stop for a while and as your eyes adjust again you are greeted by an array of peculiar looking gadgets, switches and sonic devices which have been enticing you into this place. Musicians at the far side of the dome perform ethereal tunes from worldwide cultures utilising authentic instruments, such as Tibetan singing bowls or Mongolian throat singing. It's a new sensory moment to enjoy, almost spiritual and for this part of the experience you're invited to be calm and to contemplate what you have just witnessed. Or simply take a moment to gather your breath.
But, like the children I can see just off to one side in another chamber I can't sit still for too long, I have to dive straight back into that wonderful world of colour again....
Colourscape at the Holburne Museum runs until the 29th August 2018.
Entry is from 11am daily until 4pm and costs just £5 per person*
*Note - Due to popularity, there will be a new system of 'virtual queuing' where you will be allocated a time-slot to visit the installation. Please visit the website for more information
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