A ‘Dali experience’? What would that be like, I wondered? Pretty surreal, for sure – but probably no more surreal than the life and death struggle I’m currently involved in, and a welcome break from it, too. As we were already going to London (for the Abba concert) it made sense to me to book something for (late) the next morning, when we’d had time to recover and have a decent breakfast. So…

We recovered. We had a more than acceptable buffet breakfast, courtesy of the quirky and very friendly Mama Shelter hotel. And then off by the taxi they kindly booked for us to Brick Lane – not the most salubrious of environments – and the Dali Experience. Which turned out to be housed in a converted boiler house.

Challenge one was a steep set of outside steps. Rosemary was told she could avoid that part of the exhibit if she wished, but she gamely rose to the challenge, and it was worth it.

The first part of the show was a series of wall displays which described Dali’s perennial fascination with atomic science, and later with quantum physics. To the extent that he even impressed a couple of the experts he invited to visit him so he could pick their brains. The displays showed how the knowledge he gained was increasingly reflected in his work, and formed the perfect introduction to the next section – an Immersive Room.

In that room we could sit in comfort in a large, four-sided area with a smaller, four-sided central column. Images were being projected onto all the available surfaces, so you could in fact get a somewhat different experience depending on where, exactly, you chose to sit. I was quite happy with my back to the column as a series of moving projections showed full paintings and elements from Dali’s work in chronological order. 

At one point we were invited to put on the tinted 3D glasses we’d received at the door, and duly saw a flurry of 3D elements appearing all around us. We left when we could see the sequence was starting to repeat – after about an hour – rested and ready for the final experience. This time in full 3D using a VR headset.

Once we entered that final area, with the headsets in place, we found we could see ourselves (and others) as floating ‘diving helmets’. Our hands were also visible in VR, and we could reach out and touch each other quite easily. The room was set up as a railed-off platform, clearly visible in VR; but the landscape around it had been created with moving elements from Dali paintings.

Panels in the floor allowed you to look downwards and see marine life swimming about below the deck. Soon after the sequence began a giant lobster appeared on the left and leapt in slow motion over the deck. There was also an ‘attack’ by one of his tigers, materialsing in mid-air above the deck. You saw land approaching, and soon afterwards the ‘deck’ started traversing a desert environment populated with elephants on stilts straight out of Dali’s work. All of which sounds simple, but in VR was entertaining, unexpected, and immersive.

At the price, especially, it was an excellent way to pass the morning, highly recommended. If you’d like to go, you can find more details here: