Krakow

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Back in January my friend Chloe and myself went on a last min long weekend to Krakow, Poland. The freezing day temps and snow/icey conditions didn’t hold us back. If anything it added to the magic of the city.

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Krakow is a the second largest city in Poland situated in the south of the country. The former capital’s old town and jewish quarter hold a rich history and showcases many medieval architectural features such as the remnants of the old city wall. The central Rynek Glówny, market square, holds the cloth hall a Renaissance era market and St Mary’s Basilica and an array of restaurants, shops and bars.

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Here is St Mary’s Basilica in daytime and night. The building stands alone against the blocks of smaller buildings which shine lights onto the church during the night. We didn’t get a chance to go inside the building but we passed it daily and noticed something different each time. We stayed in serviced apartments just off the main square and a less than 2 min walk from this church. The perfect location to walk or cycle anywhere in the city.

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Our first night was spent mainly here – the Pinball Museum. A tricky to find (we walked past it a few times) gem when we did walk in and down to the basement museum we found a bar with one beer tap and a guy to pay entry. We paid the equivalent of £5 each for endless entry all day. We planned on only being there for an hour or two but ended up being there for 5 hours… The place was huge 4/5 different rooms with mainly pin ball games but also shooting, Pac-Man, space invaders and other classic games. It was so much fun. The perfect start to the weekend and an easy activity after a long day traveling.

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We couldn’t go to that part of Poland without paying a visit and our respect to the remains of Auschwitz. We chose to do a combined tour of the Auschwitz camps and the salt mines a good choice if you don’t mind a long day.

Auschwitz was, as expected, haunting. The numbers of people that were forced there, held there and killed there are incomprehensible. When you’re doing the tour so much information is being fed to you it’s only on the way back that you start to sit down and think about the numbers. The main thing that I didn’t realise and couldn’t believe is that some of the victims actually bought tickets to go to this new and exciting way of living. They were so innocently naive about where they were going from the buying of tickets to the communal ‘showers’. How did they know it would be so terrible? Or were they already conditioned with fear to obey?..they would have seen the fear in others eyes and been scared of the authority in suits. I guess we can only think of something so terrible because we’ve seen the war and it has already happened.

The salt mine was a lighter tour. Still as amazing the depths they’ve mined to and they’ve even built a cathedral which holds weekly mass for the miners. Crazy stuff and worth a visit.

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Saturday morning we ventured out for brunch at Mr Pancake. It was AMAZING. Don’t eat before and don’t expect to move for a while after.

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For the rest of Saturday we rented bikes and took to the streets. It was such a good way to do the Jewish quarter and around the city walls. Glad we had gloves though it was mighty cold!

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Here are a couple of sights we saw. The random street art and the tightrope sculptural bridge.

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Photos of the cloth hall at night and Chloe walking into it.

On the Saturday night we decided to take on the Polish vodka with the the Krakow Bar Krawl. Highly recommend it. Not too expensive and you get to visit lots of bars, lots of drinks included and meet a lot of interesting people (shout out to Justin from NYC and Dale’s Stag do). The only thing I don’t recommend is doing it the night before you fly. What a hangover. We were not ok. Chloe’s dad had warned us about under the counter vodka and he was right. But still worth it.

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GO TO KRAKOW!

Beth Victoria

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Prague

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Recently I went on a little trip to Prague. Well actually it wasn’t that recently but I’ve finally got around to getting the photos off of my phone and onto my laptop. So here are some of the photographs that I took whilst away and a few recommendations of food, architecture and of course beer.

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 Getting the most obvious of Prague landmarks out the way first with a classic night time photograph of Charles Bridge. We found a nice little view point with a bar and blankets, set up camp just before sunset and then waited till I could get a typical shot. It was worth it!

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After waiting for the Charles Bridge photograph we were pretty hungry right next door was a very fancy restaurant we decided to go all out on the first meal with a tasting menu and matched wine. The restaurant was called Restaurant Mlýnec and the food was delicious with a little bit of dry ice theatre. If you can deffo worth a visit.

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An art deco cafe – worth a visit for the interiors but not the food.

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Frank Gehry’s dancing house, also known as Fred & Ginger, is not one of his most well known works – you’ve probably heard of the Guggenheim?But the building is interesting in shape and how it is a contrast with its surrounding more traditional designs. Go see and go in.

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Churches in Prague are sooo pretty. We went to a couple I don’t have a recommendation for the churches just wonder around and you’ll find some. Also if you look really closely at that last image the face is Michael Caine so that’s something.

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This is an interesting art piece that a lot of people just walk past not seeing. This is called Man Hanging Out… if you google the sculpture you can see it in detail. The guy is actually Sigmund Freud and the sculpture, by David Cerny, is depicted in this way to signify his fear of death. The sculpture apparently gives people a fright and calls into the emergency services aren’t rare!

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Obviously there is a lot of ‘To dos’ I’ve missed out of this blog post. But I would deffo recommend a visit to Prague to see all the wonders for yourself. I’ve finished the post with two view point photographs- because the best part of seeing a city is seeing all it’s beauty from afar. The second and last image is my favourite after walking up Petrin Hill there was a break in the trees and this was the view. So Gorgeous.

So go to Prague!

Beth Victoria

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A living room design with John Lewis products

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This design was made in answer to a made up brief for John Lewis. The brief outlined the size of the room and the wants and needs of the clients. Here is the brief in short; warm tones, show off the victorian oak floorboards, to include an office area, spaces to display photographic work, be able to be used by all five family members and a stylish design. Above is the initial mood board of spaces, products and colour combinations

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After finding existing images that I thought related to the space and the clients brief I then grouped a collection of colours, patterns and materials for the space and looked at how they could work together.

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Having chosen the colour scheme and taken a look at the materials and patterns available within John Lewis the next step was to look at the products  in the grey and yellow colours chosen and that will go within the space. The above two boards show the various products that would work and the options for accessories and furniture for the room.

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These next two boards show the chosen furniture for the room. Starting to group them together and layer the materials and patterns on top of each other.

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Having chosen the furniture the next step was putting them together within the context of the room. Creating these visuals with the use of Autocad and Photoshop. The above image and below three show the views of the different walls and placement of the furniture in relation to the space. These visuals also show the suggested arrangement of the photo frames on the walls.

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The final below board shows some very simple 3d visuals of the room and an Autocad plan of the room. The time frame for this project was very short, if I had more time to work on this project these final visuals would be more detailed and engaging rather than the blocky simple images they currently are.

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We really enjoyed working on this project and hope you like what we designed!

Bethvictoria.com

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Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern

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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.

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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!

Bethvictoria.com

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We’ve learnt some stuff and we’re growing

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Having completed MA Interior and Spatial Design (see the work in this blog post) and some work experience with big design firms we feel like we’ve learnt some stuff.

Bethvictoria.com are now taking on some interior design projects as well as the wallpaper and wall coverings. We’ve got a couple on the go but are always happy to talk to anyone about any projects from tiny to huge that we may be able to help with!

Heres a little recap of what we offer:

Wallpaper

Two variations available in two different colours, part of  the 2014 originals collection.

Find them on our Etsy page: Outline and Full bird

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Murals

A hand painted service currently available in the Berkshire and London area. Contact info@bethvictoria.com for any enquiries of this service.

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Prints and art

Photographic prints. As well as Interior and Spatial design we also studied Photography and have a small collection of our images available as prints on our website and Etsy.

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We also have a small limited edition amount of crayon art. Available in three different sizes and can be found on our Etsy site too.

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Interior and Spatial Design

We’re at the very early stages of the two interiors projects we have on at the moment. So heres a sample of our Masters work and a design for a seating area done as part of work experience.

Hopefully this space will get filled up with a variety of spatial, residential and hospitality interior design in the not too distant future! Again contact info@bethvictoria.com for any more information.

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Watch out for blog posts on the projects progress in the not too distant future!

Bethvictoria.com

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A New Look For Our Etsy Shop

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We’ve added some new products to our Etsy shop!

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BethVictoriaCom

You can now purchase prints of the images below in a range of sizes. These images were all taken by Beth Smith on her travels and during her photography degree at Nottingham-Trent University. Including a range of images from Lisbon, Portugal to Highclere Castle (Also known as Downton Abbey), Berkshire.

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And of course our collection of wallpaper is still available on the shop!

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So go check it out and see if anything takes your fancy!

Bethvictoria.com

All Images ©bethvictoria.com

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5 London Exhibitions this summer

There are as usual a tonne of different exhibitions on this summer in London. We’ve chosen 5 that we are interested in and will let you know some more we find later!

1 -Paul Strand: Photography and Film for the 20th Century

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“A major retrospective of the work of American photographer and film maker, Paul Strand (1890-1976), and the first in the UK since the artist’s death. Strand was one of the greatest and most influential photographers of the 20th century whose images have defined the way fine art and documentary photography is understood and practiced today.”

 Look out for a review on this one coming up!

19th March – 3rd July at the V&A

2 – Performing for the Camera

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A exhibition exploring the relationship between photography and performance. “What does it mean to perform for the camera?” An interesting exhibition that makes us think what does it mean to be yourself in front a camera, we are so used to cameras being constantly on us do we ever act ourselves or are we always performing?

Now – 12th June at Tate Modern

3- Conceptual Art in Britain 1964–1979

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“In the 1960s artists began to abandon traditional approaches and made ideas the essence of their work. This fascinating exhibition explores this pivotal period in British history, which changed the way we think about art to this day. It gathers together artists who took art beyond its traditional boundaries to suggest new ways of engaging with the realities of the world beyond the studio, which ultimately led to a questioning of the function and social purpose of art.”

12th April – 29th August at Tate Britain

4- Painting with Light

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Art and photography from Pre-Raphaelites to the modern age.

“Spanning 75 years across the Victorian and Edwardian ages, the exhibition opens with the experimental beginnings of photography in dialogue with painters such as J.M.W. Turner and concludes with its flowering as an independent international art form.”

11 May – 25th September at Tate Britain

5 – David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life

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This exhibition explores Hockney’s return to portraiture from his work with landscapes. The portraits are of a range of sitters from family to colleagues.

2nd July – 2nd October at the RA

Bethvictoria.com

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Porto, Portugal

We’ve just come back from a whistle-stop visit to Porto and Lisbon. Here are our highlights from the Porto visit. Some top places to visit, some great architecture and the best places to chill out.

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This church was the first thing we saw when we emerged from the metro station in Porto and we were excited to explore more…

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Porto is known for its range of Azulejo tiles. Colourful ceramic tiles that line the streets and cover the facades of many of the buildings. This style of tile was influenced by the Moors and are typically Mediterranean colours.

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São Bento Train station built in 1916 is one of the most beautifully decorated train stations. Covered from floor to ceiling with over 20 thousand tiles that portray the history of Portugal. These magnificent scenes were painted by Jorge Colaço.

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As well as the more traditional artwork of the tiles Porto is full of modern art in the form of graffiti. From large scale portraits to little quotes of inspiration you can find bright new art surrounded by old and crumbling architecture. Showing Porto’s seamless link with keeping the old and embracing the new.

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Left – Alvaro Siza’s faculty of architecture, Porto. Right – Alvaro Siza’s Leça swimming pool, Leça de Palmeira. The architecture of the swimming pool fits perfectly with the landscape of the sea front in Leça de Palmeira. The building leading you to the open pools offer some great lines and perspectives. The pools slot within the rocks and make it seem as though you could swim all the way out to sea and the pools are tidal – so really do embrace the space around them.

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  Casa Da Musica, Rem Koolhaas, 2005. This music hall is an iconic building in Porto. With its main architectural focus on the sound proofing of the main music hall it is acoustically excellent. It also boasts a range of side rooms that allow you to view the main hall, but also hold classes and practices.

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The angles of the exterior of the building are mimicked within the building and its furnishings. It offers colour themed rooms with different uses and even a roof top terrace with a vast view of Porto.

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We managed to have a tour of the building whilst the Portuguese symphony orchestra were practicing and went back the next day to see them play. A definite must see when in Porto!

Of course there were a lot more things we did whilst there. Visiting the old town of Guimaraes was another highlight, the perfect place to sit in the sun in a square with a glass of wine.

Bethvictoria.com

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Making a Camera Obscura

The Camera Obscura is an optical device that was essential in the development of the camera and photography.

© 2013 Abe Morell. All rights reserved.
© 2013 Abe Morell. All rights reserved.

When done right creating a room into a camera obscura is an incredible thing.

Abe Morell is one of the top camera obscura makers. He travels around and makes hotel rooms into these beautiful naturally projected works.

Camera Obscura Image of the Eiffel Tower in the Hotel Frantour, 1999. Abelardo Morell
Camera Obscura Image of the Eiffel Tower in the Hotel Frantour, 1999. Abelardo Morell

In his early work he recorded the camera obscura with the use of long exposure black and white film photography. He then started to use the new technologies of digital photography.

Camera Obscura: View of the Manhattan Bridge-April 30th / Afternoon, 2010
Camera Obscura: View of the Manhattan Bridge-April 30th / Afternoon, 2010

He also then started to use lenses and prisms to flip the image and to make it as sharp as possible.

With the work that I am doing on my MA I decided to give it a go. The results weren’t the best. But neither is the view out the window… Its just the rail track and the cranes from all the building sites in Elephant and Castle.

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I need to practice and refine this work so that it creates the colourful and interesting images that Abelardo Morell has achieved.

How to:

It seems pretty simple to make. You black out all the window and other light sources. Then cut a hole in the black out. Play with varying sized holes until you get the image projecting at a good size and sharpness. Add a prism or a lens to sharpen and make the projection as clear as possible.

The key with this is that you need to wait 15-20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the light before you can actually see the outcome.

But, of course it isn’t that easy. It takes a lot of playing around and a completely blacked out room to get the right effect.

Good luck!

Bethvictoria.com

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Free Range 2015

Sorry the blog posts have been sparse the last few weeks, I’ve been super busy in London working on my degree show!

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Visit my portfolio on the Free Range website here:

www.free-range.org.uk/cgi-bin/portfolio.pl?yearID=20&exhibitionID=1157&memberID=27146

Free Range 2015 was fun, informative and a great networking opportunity. We set up on Wednesday (17th) and held our private view on the Thursday. Lots of people were complimentary of my work and to the exhibition as a whole. I also found out that I will be graduating with BA Photography, classification 2.1, from Nottingham Trent University ! For the rest of the weekend the exhibition had a constant flow of people looking at our work and collecting our business cards.

My work being on display in London was a great opportunity and hopefully more people will know my photography and Bethvictoria.com from it. I also got to live in London for the week and experience the commuting and working style of the city. Which has just made me even more excited to move to London and start my Masters in Interior and Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Arts this October.

The blog posts should continue as normal from now on!

Bethvictoria.com

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