This is what you want. Jan Niedojadlo’s immersive sensory pods, seemingly inspired by the functions and rhythms of the human body, but also clearly drawing on inspiration as diverse as 1950s sci-fi sets, the bible and the joy of walking on a shagpile carpet, are about as much fun as you should legally expect in an Oxfordshire museum located in a shopping centre on a Saturday morning.
This is at least the second time the Banbury Museum has hosted Niedojadlo’s pods. There are two this time. One is obviously a brain and the other caused some debate but we settled on ‘something digestive’. Both are fully explorable and are a mix of touches, smells, sounds and sensations. There are also some smaller pods into which you can fold yourself and where you can lie on a carpet surface and soak up the lavender smell. Should you be so inclined you can also model your own smaller pod from a selection of sensory items.
Obviously a very clear target market here is special needs children who seek out such experiences on a daily basis anyway. But this is also grown-up art, albeit an art that gives permission for childlike behaviour. It is surprisingly restful to lay back in an oversized brain listening to a humming noise whilst a voice intones a piece of scripture. But then there is no dignified way to clamber out.
Do go along and experience this exhibition if you can. The friendly folk at Banbury Museum would welcome your custom and there’s a nice cafe for coffee and cake afterwards. And do add to the comments book. I’m rather proud that the first comment in the book comes from my elder son – himself autistic and sensory seeking: “I really enjoyed it”, it says. Because kids get to the point whereas adults take four paragraphs to say the same thing.