Kids will love Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition at Tate Modern

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Ava enjoys the colours of Eliasson’s ‘In Real Life’

Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson is back at Tate Modern with his new exhibition, 16 years after his  ‘Weather Project’ wowed the public in the gallery’s now iconic Turbine Hall attracting over two million visitors and changing the face of contemporary art.

Eliasson’s ‘In Real Life’ is a wonderful experience for the family. His work is out of the ordinary and captivating for all ages. Rather than a plain room full of paintings and photographs that I know would bore my younger brother to death, he transforms the rooms into his own spaces, covering immense walls with moss, and filling whole corridors with mist.

One of my personal favourite pieces was ‘Beauty’, a kind of indoor sheet of rain, because I found the way he vaporised the water then reflected the light off of the tiny droplets to create a rainbow breathtaking. It was such an elegant piece. I also really liked ‘Din Blinde Passenger (Your Blind Passenger)’ which was one of the more physical pieces because you become immersed in this sweetened, coloured mist and could only see 1.5 meters in front of you. I think younger kids will enjoy this because it has a certain mystery to it, as you can’t tell where you started or where you will finish.

I really think this is a great exhibition to go to with the family because each of the 13 rooms is different and intriguing in their own surprising way. The art doesn’t just have to be analysed for its deeper meaning and admired for its structural beauty and elegance, but each piece is also amazing to simply look at.

There are multiple interactive pieces such as ‘Your Spiral View’ in which you walk through a spiral tunnel of mirrors, and the ‘Moss Wall’ where you are able to feel the moss that is covering the walls length and width.

‘Beauty’ uses light reflection on water

‘Your Uncertain Shadow’ intrigues Ava

I think children will really enjoy the interactive aspects of Olafur Eliasson’s ‘In Real Life’ exhibition because they encourage you become acutely aware of your own senses, making you part of the exhibit. ‘Your Uncertain Shadow (Colour)’, plays with lights of a different array of colours, creating multiple shadows for those standing in front of them. Similarly in ‘Din Blinde Passenger (Your Blind Passenger)’ your eyes are clouded with fog of different colours. Both of these installations relate to your sense of sight, playing with colour and hindering your eyesight to make you experience different sensations.

All Eliasson’s pieces encourage you to be playful with his art, and also to interact with fellow gallery visitors. For example in room 5, where ‘Din Blinde Passenger (Your Blind Passenger)’ is found, people make shadows in shapes of all sorts and can work together to create interesting patterns by layering the colours. This room is also a wide, open space for very young children to freely run around.  When I visited, there was an excited toddler having the time of his life, running at his colorful shadows and chasing down others.

Eliasson shows his love for geometry and how this helps us make sense of the world, through the pieces ‘In Real Life’, ‘Cold Wind Sphere’ and ‘Stardust Particle’.  Each of these are aluminum spherical frames with lights inside suspended and slowly spinning. The light creates wonderful patterns and colours when reflected through the stained glass or the metal frames. These three exhibits also follow his themes of motion, light and colour.

The piece named after the exhibition itself, ‘In Real Life’ caught my attention because the colour-effect filter glass reflected bright, eye-catching colours onto the walls of the room when the light from the bulb inside traveled through it. The delicate aluminum frame made the coloured glass stand out even more in the extraordinary shape of the sphere.

‘Cold Wind Sphere’ creates beautiful projections of light

Towering ‘Waterfall’ shows the power of nature

Many of his works address natural phenomenon such as rain, light and mist, which have been key areas of investigation throughout his career. On the south terrace outside the gallery his new ‘Waterfall’ can be found. This dramatic piece towers over 11 meters off the ground with a constant flow of water cascading down the metal framework. By contrast, in room 2, visitors can find the ‘Moss Wall’, a huge wall entirely covered with Scandinavian Reindeer Moss.

The ‘Moss Wall’ piece is more peaceful than the colossal ‘Waterfall’, however both show intriguing aspects of the natural world, and how difficult it is to reconstruct, making you realize how precious and fragile it is in real life as well as how much we are destroying it everyday. This links back to his strong feelings on climate change after the time he spent in Iceland when he was growing up. He has said that the natural beauty of Iceland made him realise how precious the world and our environment is and we need to put more effort into protecting it.

I think that this exhibition is great for all ages because the pieces have a lot of deeper meaning to be looked into, however they are also interactive and family-friendly. The bright colours are great for younger kids and the interactive pieces are better for the older children, while parents can experience the problems he addresses in his art such as migration, climate change and harnessing solar energy.

Olafur Eliasson in his studio

The lowdown

How to book

Olafur Eliasson’s ‘In Real Life’ exhibition at Tate Modern runs from 9 July 2019 to 5 January 2020

Advance booking is recommended

Open daily 10am to 6pm and until 10pm on Friday and Saturday.

£18 / FREE for Members

Concession £17

Family child 12–18 years £5

Under 12s FREE (up to four per family adult)

16–25 Join Tate Collective for £5 tickets


Recycle for 20% off an exhibition t-shirt

Bring your old t-shirts to Tate Modern for reuse or recycling, hopefully in a future Tate exhibit, and you will receive a 20% discount on an Olafur Eliasson exhibition t-shirt. Members will also receive a further 10% membership discount.

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