Last chance to see: Dalston’s tropical forest

Despite a busy morning at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, with only one week left to view, we decided to take a short detour to Dalston and pop into Instant Touch. Billed as a leafy wonderland of tropical forest and 3D fruit, it sounded quite a grown up concept, and I was excited about the potential of finding a genuine piece of installation art that might be child-friendly.

The craft that had gone into transforming this space was inspirational. The walls had been covered from head to toe in palm leaves created from a range of materials, and although few and far between, the items of 3D fruit (such as Lydia Shirreff’s pineapple) were highly impressive. What felt like a Banksy-inspired gorilla lurked cheekily behind the main entrance, even a snake had been neatly tucked away above a door frame mustering a shriek from my youngest companion.

As a collaboration between artists, designers and positive keensters (answers on a postcard… it must be a Dalston thing) the potential to produce something truly original was great, especially with the Printhouse Gallery presenting such a blank canvas. Sadly, it all fell a bit short in our expectations of something really immersive, or interactive. It was nice that much of the ‘foliage’ was in easy reach to visitors of any height, but much more could have been made of this to ensure it lived up to its walk-through description. There were nowhere near enough ‘live art pieces’, and I failed to sniff anything from the faux fruit, let alone Belly Kids Scratch and Sniff book, however entertaining their pages were.

A major visual centerpiece could have perhaps brought the peripheral work together. Even some consideration around events or sessions that would bring the space to life outside of its day-to-day use, might have encouraged us to hang around a little longer. Instead, we left with some confusion as to who the exhibition was actually aimed at, and a sense of a real missed opportunity. If you’re in Dalston with the kids over the next week, perhaps pop in and have a look, but it doesn’t really warrant a detour.

Needless to say, I am very excited to have added an exciting new space to my gallery repertoire and look forward to seeing what it plays host to next.

Instant Touch is on at the Printhouse Gallery until 31st August. Admission free.


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