SensAtion Gallery is an array of interactive art installations celebrating our five senses. Smell, touch, see, hear and even taste your way through five rooms of amazing experiences designed with all ages in mind. Each piece is created by a local artist or influencer, sharing their interpretation of the senses.
Before you can begin to explore the installations, it’s necessary to download an augmented reality (AR) app called EyeJack. Once fully downloaded, this allows your phone to interact with a number of the displays and imagines. From the app, you can then save the video to your phone or upload directly to your Instagram account.
These AR experiences start off in Room 1. Begin with a wall full of paintings that come to life with movement, colour and music before your eyes. Miss 5 thought this was magic! Her favourite was a goddess who blooms into a pink flower. The images are all created by local artists. For example, the largest image in the group is by Kambarni (Kam), an award-winning Aboriginal artist with ancestry in the Kimberley and Perth regions of Western Australia. His piece ‘MSunderstood’ is reminiscent of both Aboriginal line drawing, sand art and the shapes seen within the brain. Using the AR app, see how this piece comes to life and how Kam draws a connection between our brains and the senses we experience.
Adjacent in Room 1 we found Fluro For Neuro, a room with a neon light wall and retro-style video games. There is also a circular bed set up surrounded by colourful walls and featuring cuddly turtles. A ring light on a tripod is set up in front of this. In fact, you will find these lights in most rooms. Snap some photos in Room 1, pledge to ‘Save the turtles!’ and embrace your inner VSCO girl!
Room 2 was probably Miss 5’s favourite. The dominating feature is a huge ball pit! All ages are invited to hop in and enjoy swishing around in the balls. There are inflatable toys in among the balls such as you’d find in a pool, including a vibrant pink flamingo. A ring light is mounted from the ceiling, so you can lay back and enjoy snapping some relaxed photos.
Adjoining the ball pit is a room lit by black lights. Watch the video outside first to see how the artist, Ana Cadence, created these designs on the wall. Then slip through the curtains and enjoy the illusion. Ana’s designs are akin to an MC Escher drawing. Ask one of the staff members if you can add to the glowing messages on the walls and see if you can find a little space to add your own, even if it’s just your names. Miss 5 loved that her white shirt lit up, how everything shone as she danced around, and that she was allowed to write on the wall. Something that’s definitely not encouraged at home!
Moving along to Room 3, we discovered a very peaceful space. This room embraces the sounds of silence and the music of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Designed by Fremantle artist Kim Behets, the room is full of soft blue and green hues. A huge mushroom surrounded by clouds such as might be found in Alice in Wonderland fills the rear part of the room. This has a ring light mounted so you can snap a selfie or take well-lit photos of your family.
Other features of the room include bean bags and various hammocks with over-the-ear headphones piping through soft orchestral music. It’s the kind of space you might find at a retreat.
Similarly, Room 4 featured more of our favourite installations. If you have a sensory kid like mine who likes to touch or indulge their sense of smell, this room will be a winner! Miss 5 ran straight to a lush green looking installation, featuring a hanging basket seat, a fountain and soft lighting. The sounds of birdlife and insects plays and a scent of greenery envelops you. This gives you the illusion of possibly sitting in a garden or a forest. It’s a wonderful illusion we both enjoyed. As with other rooms, a ring light is set up here as well for selfies and family photos.
In a wall opposite, viewers are asked to “Explore your sense of touch… if you dare?” Miss 5 quickly pulled her hand out of the first blind nook she’d popped her hand into, declaring it was “slimy and gross!” She’d discovered some cold water beads. Other nooks hide soft textures, squishy toys, feathers and more. It’s an interesting sensation to have to trust your sense of touch and not be able to see the item first. Likewise, reflecting the holes in the wall, Room 4 also features a large sculpture of a cheese. It appears someone could pop their head and hands into the back of it and pose as a cheese, should they so desire. Miss 5 does not like cheese in any form. Can you tell? 😛
To the rear of Room 4, we found an installation featuring painted walls and coloured lights strung from the ceiling. Mirrors on the back wall and the floor reflect the lights back up. Again, visitors are invited to gently touch and run their hands through the lights. This part of the room celebrates the synapses, electrical impulses, firing in the brain. This is something that breaks down in someone suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Using the AR app on the swirling wall designs, you will see electrical impulses come to life with animation and sound. Miss 5 thought it was “a bit freaky”, but I found it fascinating to watch. A virtual reality display with headsets and computer screens is also set up to the rear of the room, in a similar vein, exploring the synapses. Miss 5 said she couldn’t watch it, it was too freaky, but it appeared interesting to me. So perhaps this may appeal to older viewers.
Finally, we came to Room 5. Walking in, we found vintage chairs, a telephone and a huge wall mirror. Miss 5 was convinced the room was slanting down because of how the mirror was leaning! We walked around the corner and found a wall of arms. She also declared this was a bit freaky! Adjacent to this wall was a silent disco room. Bean bags fill the dimly lit space to the back, and a ring light is set up with neon lights and white bubbles for more photo opportunities. By the door, you can find a number of sets of headphones in three colours. Each different colour pipes through a different kind of music such as pop or classical. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the feeling of movement by dancing on the dance floor.
As you leave this dance space, there are examples of modes of mobility, including a rainbow coloured wheelchair. Miss 5 sat in it, curious to know what it would feel like. She wanted to give the skateboard a crack too, but I didn’t think that would be a good idea!
The main feature of Room 5 however is the lemon yellow kitchen. Miss 5 found a collection of play food and cooking toys. However, the main use of this space is for cooking demonstrations. MKR finalist Jordan Bruno was involved in creating the space, which includes another ring light for photo opportunities. Miss 5 enjoyed pretending she was hosting her own cooking show.
Just beyond the kitchen is another interactive wall for the AR app. One person can stand or sit against the wall while another person uses the app to create the illusion of colourful angel wings. Miss 5 loved this one too. Who wouldn’t?
In addition to these wonderful, magical art installations, SensAtion Gallery is also hosting a variety of workshops and demonstrations. These include kids LEGO workshops, kids painting workshops, as well as yoga and a pop up bar. For the duration, there is a pop up cafe and shop at the start of SensAtion Gallery. So, with this in mind, you could explore the installations and stop of coffee and a bite to eat before you head off or vice versa.
If you plan to visit, be prepared to walk as the rooms are spread over three buildings. Dress in comfortable shoes you can easily remove and appropriate clothing to enjoy installations such as the ball pit. I wore a maxi dress, so wasn’t really properly attired for laying in the ball pit for example. But you could definitely dress up for your favourite installations for your photos.
There is room for prams to be parked in each of the rooms. However, please be aware that children need to be supervised and cannot climb over the majority of the installations. I can see how that giant cheese might be tempting to climb like a ladder, for example. Everyone is asked to treat the artworks gently and with respect.
Feel free to download the Eyejack app now and test it out on the photo below before you go for a taster of what to expect. 😉
In conclusion, we spent around 2 hours wandering through these extraordinary art installations. We visited them all, and then trekked back to revisit the ones we enjoyed most. We could probably have spent longer still. Children who seek sensory input as mine does will especially enjoy these exhibits. I came away feeling exhausted, but would happily experience them all again! SensAtion Gallery, brought to you by the team at MSWA Events, is a truly amazing experience and not to be missed.
Located in the Queens Riverside Precinct, at 3 De Vlamingh Avenue, East Perth, on the corner of Hay Street.
SensAtion Gallery runs daily from 10am to 5pm until Sunday, 22 December 2019, with the last entry an hour before closing, or evening sessions available from 6pm to 8pm on Mondays and Fridays.
Tickets are available via Ticketek or via the the Box Office on the corner Hay Street and De Vlamingh Avenue. General admission tickets cost $10 for adults and children alike (plus service and handling fees if booking online), with children aged under 5 years free with a paying adult. Workshops such as LEGO Sensation are an additional $15 on the ticket price. Other than closing time, there is no limit to how long you can visit.
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