Two Sheffield Hallam University film and media academics have worked with Dutch artist Marcel Schreur to create a virtual reality (VR) and art installation that gives viewers an insight into dementia.

The exhibition, ‘Life is Beautiful. Always’ is now on display at the London Art Biennale 2019, after officially opening after a preview event with Lady Sophie Windsor earlier in the week.

Film-maker Dominic Green and multi-media expert Daniel Bacchus have been developing the project with Marcel Schreur for several years, taking the exhibition around the UK and beyond.

The aim of the multi-disciplinary project is to give viewers an insight in the life and mind of an artist who suffers daily with the aftereffects of oral cancer and vascular dementia.

Not only does the installation combine a range of artistic mediums, exploring a range of themes including illness, mental health and dementia, the whole project links together, with the sculptures and paintings from the exhibition, appearing within the VR, making this a truly immersive experience.

The virtual reality developer behind the project and subject group leader for animation and digital media production Daniel Bacchus, said: “This exhibition is a real milestone for the Life is Beautiful project. The project started out for me as a tentative exploration into the topics I was researching for my PhD study, focusing on the concept of presence and how we may be able to access the experience of another through virtual reality.

“The project has since grown into something much broader; addressing the beauty and value that can be found in Marcel’s experience as he describes it. The response we have had so far from visitors to the exhibition, health professionals, artists and academics has been fascinating. It’s a great privilege to be able to present our work at the London Art Biennale.”

Speaking about the exhibition, Marcel Schreur said: “This collaboration with Dominic and Daniel has been revealing on so many levels. We lived Life is Beautiful during the whole creative process. The work is about a meeting in the middle of people of all abilities, we have done just that.”

On taking the virtual reality and art installation to the London Art Biennale, Sheffield Hallam lecturer Dominic Green, said: “I am thrilled that this rich and fruitful collaboration has been so well received. It’s a great platform to present this project to a new audience.”