Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern


One of the current exhibitions at the Tate Modern is a large retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg’s 6o year career as an artist. Through 11 gallery spaces you are shown the journey of his work from his early experimentation to his late work with all the seemingly random and continuously experimental work in-between.

We went to visit it and so wanted to let you know what we thought. This is written with two people opinions. Beth’s (B) who is the designer and artist behind Bethvictoria.com and Paul (P) a lover of art and design but with a business background. We thought it would be interesting to see the two opinions formed from the pieces.

The first two pieces are found in the first, ‘Experimentation’ room of the exhibition. This room shows the work he created within Black Mountain College where he took classes in the fine arts and the initial works he created during his marriage to Susan Weil. ‘Experimentation’ shows various materials he worked with from light sensitive paper to a car, paint and paper.

Automobile Tire Print, 1953
Automobile Tire Print, 1953

About: Created with the help of composer John Cage and his Model A Ford. The piece challenges the idea of art and authorship.

What we thought

B: A simplistic idea and kind of print. For me it shows the trace that we leave. Even the simple day to day things that we do, like driving a car, change the world around us and leave a print. A comment on society.

P: I like this for its simplicity, but technically this probably isn’t as straightforward as one might think. Keeping all the sheets of paper accurately juxtaposed achieving a smooth substrate to minimise counter-imprints from under the paper, and ensuring the tire was loaded with sufficient paint to get the consistency of impression over what looks like to revolutions of the car wheel, would have been challenges to overcome.

Untitled, 1951

About: Part of a body of work named Black Paintings created to test the boundaries of abstraction in the 50s. Untitled, 1951, created whilst he was studying, uses layers of newspaper and dense black paint to create a textured and glossy painting.

What we thought

B: The texture of the newspaper isn’t obvious until you get closer to this piece. That’s what I find interesting about this piece. From far away it just looks like black canvas but when you get closer you see that there’s texture and movement with how the light plays on the glossy paint. If you don’t look at it properly you don’t see the detail and it doesn’t make sense.

P: This is moody. The exhibition lighting could, to my mind, have created more atmosphere. Rauschenberg probably approached this from an experimental angle and discovered an abstraction of form and colour that worked. The proportions are comfortable to the eye and I like the emphasis that is given to the abutment of the varying width canvases that make up the whole.

In room three of the exhibition you find the ‘Combines’. Combining materials, objects and processes to create works that he said became ‘awkward physically’. Using mostly found objects which he put on canvas and then enhanced with abstract paint marks. The combines were made in his studio, live on stage and also some grew with their time in exhibition via viewer participation.

Bed, 1955
Bed, 1955

About: Not being able to afford canvas Rauschenberg decided to use his quilt, sheet and pillow for this piece. When it was first viewed it was considered a threatening piece, Rauschenberg said that he did not mean for it it be harsh.

What we thought

B: I wouldn’t say it looks cozy. But I do relate to it. To me its the boundary between being awake and dreaming. The cover at the bottom and pillow at the top are practically untouched – the real uniform world we are in when we are awake. And the part where you would slip under the cover is messy and colourful – the explosion of your ideas and imagination that comes when you are asleep and dreaming.

P: Not a lot to say about this other than I think it is great. I particularly like the almost ‘impressionist’ colour spectrum that is created around the fold of the quilt.

Black Market, 1961
Black Market, 1961

About: Originally this was a piece that the audience could participate in. The four clipboards on the canvas were for viewers to put their own pieces of art/notes or doodles into the work. The box contained objects and people were encouraged to take one in exchange for an object of their own. (This was stopped when in one exhibition the objects were taken and not replaced)

What we thought

B: The idea of being able to add to and interact with this piece is really great. I love the idea that Rauschenberg took his recognition and allowed other people to get involved with it. Collaborating with everyone and getting everyone involved in making art.

P: I would love to know if Rauschenberg took an interest in how the contents of the box changed over time. Keeping snapshots of the ever-changing range of items, with the common theme of having been ‘swapped in’ might have been the basis for more follow-on work perhaps.

Silkscreens (Room 5) were a key part in Rauschenberg’s recognition as an artist, being the key to his breakthrough in 1963. Rauschenberg was working on these at the same time as Warhol. He started using his own imagery then he developed to using colour and more recognisable found imagery, touching on the subjects of politics, science and sport. Once his silkscreens had been recognised and shown within galleries he immediately destroyed the tools needed to make any more, removing any possibility of the ease to just repeat himself.

Almanac, 1962
Almanac, 1962

About: Almanac was one of his first screen prints and doesn’t hold any real meaning. It is just an exploration of the combination of imagery, strokes and textures.

What we thought

B: Unlike Warhol, Rauschenberg’s screen prints aren’t concerned with the celebrity. They are, as with his other work, experimental and show working. It doesn’t tell you what it is or how you should think about it – you decide for yourself.

P: At first, this piece creates an internal struggle in the observer as it appears chaotic (Tate calls it ‘poetic’ – I’m not so sure). But as one deciphers the images that have been screen printed and the brush work that is added for emphasis, one is taken on a journey of one’s own making. The piece becomes something different to each observer.

Room 11 shows Rauschenberg’s late works. He had a keen interest in using the latest technology in photography to produce large scale works. He continued to make work until his death in 2008. They continued to be collaborative and experimental. Questioning the idea of art and ownership and the development in technology, media and culture.

Mirthday Man, 1997
Mirthday Man, 1997

About: Mirthday Man was made on Rauschenberg’s 72nd birthday. It includes an x-ray of himself, clippings from art history and imagery from his travels.

What we thought

B: From the exhibition it seemed that Rauschenberg after time creating less colourful box, B&W photographs and installations went back to this type of work that is similar to his screen prints but with modern techniques. I just love that even on his 72nd birthday and for ten more years he was creating such interesting works.

P: It seems a random combination of images, but it isn’t. I imagine the artist anguishing over the arrangement of colour, shape and topic, either to give some order to it all, or to intentionally create disharmony. This is a piece one can look at for hours and see different things and think different things.

So, that’s what we thought about it. The exhibition is open till 2 April 2017 so get down to Tate to see it for yourself!


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New Etsy Product!


After having multiple compliments and enquiries of where to get a piece of art that we’ve made for our home- we decided to make a few to sell. This is something that we saw on Pinterest and decided to make for ourselves! Obviously it turned out well and so now we’ve got an initial batch to sell on Etsy and at christmas and craft fairs!


There are currently two options for this design -the above normal selection of crayon colours and a slightly brighter set (Below). This brighter set we think is perfect for the teen or childs room or play area!


Find it on Etsy Here

There’s also three sizes on offer: 18×24″, 18×22″ and 18×14″




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Garden DIYs for Summer


Here are 5 summer garden DIYs that we’ve found and would love to make! Perfect for getting you in the mood for summer and your garden looking BBQ ready.


Tea light holders. This is a simple DIY that offers a fun way to have extra light in your garden as well as some recycling! (Click the image for the process)


Bright colourful hanging plant pots! Perfect for in the home or in the garden.

(Click the image for the process)


Stackable recycled planters. Make these from wooden wine boxes for even more of a rustic feel or make them from new! These are great because they make use of the height, creating more floor space, or creating mock walls in the garden.


These teepees are not only great for creating a space in the shade for children to play in, but they’re great for adults too! We would definitely hang out in this, and they’re not too hard to make either.(Click the image for the process)


This DIY takes a little more skill, but the outcome is the perfect comfy place to kick back with a book in the sun. (Click the image for the process)

Happy Making!


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Halloween DIYs 2!

Here is another selection of DIYs for this Halloween season. This time we’ve focused on the use of paper to create these haunting pieces.

For The Wall

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Bats are a quick and effective theme at Halloween. These two examples are easily done. The left is a very sophisticated way to get a little fun decoration into a room. The right would look great along with some pumpkins and the kids will love this one.


Again a simple, mature and sophisticated looking design.

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Don’t know how to get decorations onto a staircase? Here we go! Get these little mice running around your home. The witch and broom design is a perfect piece to make a wall into a seasonal shrine.

For The Window

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We love this way of making a window into a haunting scene. The one on the left we have done before and it looked so good! They’re the perfect option if you don’t want to clutter the house but want to get a little involved in the festivities.


This is a slightly more impressive scene. A proper Monsters Inc. inspired look.

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There are so many options for these designs depending on the type and positioning of your windows.


If you don’t want to have to worry about your jack-o-lanterns being messy or rotting away this is a great way to get the symbolic sign into Halloween.

And This Cat Eye Treat


This is a pretty simple way to add Halloween decoration to your home. Cut small holes in a cat shaped piece of paper and then poke fairy lights through. We think they look so good and easy!

Happy Making!


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DIY Craftiness

Here are a few little DIYs for your home.

1) Adding text to bottles and jars.

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Here are a couple of great ways to add text to your jars or bottles. Great for identifying different kitchen ingredients or just adding a personal touch. Use a hot glue gun to add text onto a jar. When the glue is dry paint the bottle. You now have a personalised painted bottle or jar. With your jars paint/draw patterns on the bottom section. Block out the lettering with tape or paper so that when its painted the wording is clear.

2) Cacti and mini plants

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Tea cups, candle holder, shot glasses, egg cups and anything else you can find are great items to make into vases for your cacti and mini plants. The image on the right shows our own little cacti. One is in a tea light holder and the other a scooter shaped egg cup from Italy! We think these are a cute little way of adding plants to your home. We especially love the tea cup idea, we think that we will have to add this to our collection.

3) Twirls!

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The rug and matt look like pretty simple makes with a great result. Take a length of rope and cover it in different patterned and coloured fabric. Then in a tight swirl wrap and sew the string onto each other. For the rope, swirl into a circle a length of a thick rope. Hold the circle tightly together and glue onto the back a circular piece of thick fabric. This fabric should hold together the circle and you then have your matt ready for use!

4) Shoe box shelves


Got any shoe boxes or wine boxes? Tidy them up and paint the outside of the boxes one colour. Paint the back of some of the boxes a mix match of colours. Stack them up in different ways and clip them together to secure them in place.


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DIY – Removing wallpaper

Having just spent a few hours helping to remove some very very old wallpaper from a bedroom here are some top tips for making the job go a smooth as possible.

1) Tear it


Wallpaper normally will have  a top layer and a backing layer. The first step is to pull the top layer off, start in the corners or at the ceiling line for best results.

2) Wet it


After tearing off the top layer you will be left with little bits (or big bits) of the backing paper. To get these bits off it helps if it is wet.

Use either just hot water or a mixture of water and fabric softener. Spray it on to the wall or use a sponge to dab it on. Let it soak in, this softens the paste, then use a putty knife or metal spatula to scrape off the remaining bits.

3) Wash it


When you’ve got most the backing off there will still be glue on the wall. Scrape off as much of it as you can.

Use hot water and a sponge to wash of the remaining glue. A mix of water and dish detergent also works well for this step.

4) Check it


Before you paint over the wall all the glue needs to be taken off. If there is glue left the paint will eventually flake and crackle.  A good way to check if you have it all off is to spray the wall and hold a light parallel to it. If you can see a dark sheen not all the glue has gone. If washing it doesn’t get rid of it then you will need to use a gel stripper.

5) Prepare it


When you’re happy all the glue has gone you need to prepare the wall. This means filling any gaps, smoothing down and priming. Fill any holes that may have appeared or were already in the wall. Sand down the wall to a smooth surface. Then you need to prime it, use one that is suited for what you are doing next, there are paint and wallpaper primers available.

If you need wallpaper we can think of some great designs … bethvictoria.com/wallpaper

Happy DIY-ing!


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Kid Friendly Summer DIYs

Some simple DIYs that the kids can get involved with (if you’re stuck with what to do this summer). Both for your home and for the kids.

For Plants:


Use pegs and cleaned out tuna tins to create a fun little pot for a plant. Perfect for a table centre piece. Use old water bottles and glue to create multicoloured vases. Wrap wool around them or create a collage. Add colour and pattern to create a perfect little vase.

For Art:

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We’ve featured these before but still think that they’re the perfect little DIY to do with kids. The classic melted crayon. A big tip here is to make sure that you use crayons with the wrapper still on them, it holds the crayon in place and makes a neat edge for the dripping wax. Animal shakers! A great way to make a memento of summer trips to a zoo. Choose a favourite animal that you saw and make a little shaker!

For The Kids:

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Tipis are great fun and this simple colourful one will make a little ones summer. Great for a bedroom or getting some shade in the garden. Let the little ones show off their artwork with this way of framing. Paint big frames bright colours, attach some string to it and let them hang their newest and favourite work.


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Fresh Home DIYs

Here are some fresh DIYs for getting spring into your home!

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This is an easy way to get a subtle splash of colour into a room, perfect for a fresh new piece of furniture. How cute are these little light bulb vases? Such a nice mix of soft natural colours. Use old cans to create these colourful tea light holders, perfect for the house or garden.

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Flowers! What else brings spring to a room more than flowers? Whether they’re fake or real they look great. Here are some great alternative ways to display them.

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Soft pastel colours are a very spring. These dipped mason jar planters add fun colour to the idea and work great together. This is a neat and clever way to give the look of having a good spring clean, hide all the untidy looking items behind book spines


Mason jars are useful for so much! Match with string and flowers to create these country style vases. Perfect for adding flowers to a room without having to have the shelf space.


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DIY Easter Ideas

Here is a pick of what you can DIY ready for Easter!

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To Decorate!

Use of balloons to make the perfect egg shaped basket. Use little water balloons to create some festive bunting and wreaths or bigger ones to make a sweet filled egg. Also, look how adorable these hanging eggs with little flowers in them are!

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To Gift!

Message in an egg, personal, very Easter and very unique! Make a normal Easter gift fun by using a jar to make a little home for a chocolate bunny and eggs! We’ve posted this kind of thing before, but using little toys to make Easter animal themed jars is a great DIY gift! Fill with sweets, chocolate eggs or even bath salts.

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Flowers For The Table!

Use the double layered vase idea to create this egg and flower combo, a great mix of spring and Easter! Plant some colourful spring flowers in little china tea cups, to make a dainty decoration. Use egg shells as a tiny vase and fill with moss and little plants to add a little splash of colour to any table!

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Finally For The Family!

How cute is this cookies and milk idea! Make your own Easter egg hunt! Hide some chocolate eggs in the garden or around the house, and make little signs like these to direct the hunt. Get everyone being creative by making easter bunny shaped crayons!


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A few Colourful DIYs for 2015

    Here are a few colourful DIYs for bringing your home from winter to spring ready for summer.

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Paint your interior doors, in block or pattern, to add a splash of colour or pattern to a room.

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Paint the back of box shelves to add a splash of colour. Create these hanging colourful pieces, just tie some coloured wool to a stick.

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Bunting done differently. Circles and rain drops and clouds make for cute colourful decor. Peg up your colourful leaflets and zines! A great way to display your books and create an visually interesting piece.

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Spruce up your fairy lights with these little ideas. Use ping pong balls, paper cups or origami cubes to add shape and colour to your lights.

Happy DIY-ing!


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