The Uffizi Hunger Games

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We had really soaked up the atmosphere of the city, had gone leather shopping and had drunk shots with a bald midget in some shisha bar after showing off our break dance moves. There was however, one last, very important thing left to do…

I always prefer seeing architecture and getting a feel of a city or a place through its people and learning through living history. So if I have a limited time in a place then I usually prefer spending it outside and taking in the atmosphere. However with one of Europe’s most famous museums and some of the world’s most famous works of art, here in Florence I was going to have to make an exception.

Florence is called the capital of arts; according to statistics produced by UNESCO, 60% of the world’s most important works of art are located in Italy and approximately half of these are in Florence. From the 13th to the 16th century it was a seemingly endless source of creative masterpieces and Italian genius. Both Dante and Michelangelo were born here. Boccaccio wrote his ‘Decameron’ in Florence. The Italian Renaissance, Europe’s richest cultural period, began in Florence when the artist Brunelleschi finished the Duomo, with the huge dome.

It was our last day in Florence. We walked past the bronze wild boar and rubbed its snout for luck. I had to do it twice because my coin bounced back and didn’t fall into the drain as it was supposed to…but the second time it did and so now I can safely tell you all that we will one day return to Florence*

*And also that I WILL now win the National Lottery…

Our first stop was to the the Galleria dell’ Accademia. We walked around the large rooms filled with religious paintings and iconography. Somehow in every room us art connoisseurs recognized the “famous painting” amongst all the others…Our conversations went something like this:

Abi: “I know that one…” “that’s that famous one”…

Stella: Ah yes, I think you’re right, who’s its by again”

Abi: “I can’t remember, but I’ve seen it before…. (Puzzled expression)*

*Move onto the next painting

My favorite things in the Galleria were the medieval religious flat paintings and the sculptures. There was an incredible room of plaster busts, but it was the majestic and spectacularly displayed, Michelangelo’s David, the most famous statue in the world, that was the star of the show. The stunning statue represents the Biblical hero David and because of the nature of the hero it represented, the statue soon came to symbolize the defense of civil liberties embodied in the Republic of Florence, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family. The eyes of David, with a warning glare, were turned towards Rome.

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We took a short break from culture and went to watch some hot fitties run the marathon around the streets of Florence after which I ate Tuscan Stew served in a piece of hollowed out bread at the highly recommended II Cernacchino coffee shop.

Then it was on to the Uffizi, one of the oldest and most famous art museums in Europe, which is so popular we had to book tickets to go well in advance. We passed the Vasari Corridor and walked to the gallery where I was struck by its beautiful design and courtyard. Arches lead onto the river and shuttered windows looked down upon the quadrant and upon us. The art inside was incredible but the building with its ornate beams and halls decorated with frescos was stunning in itself. It was great seeing the Carravagios and the Rubens but I just adored the Botticelli’s. Their size, their fluidity and rich colors were celestial. The Birth of Venus was scandalous when it was first displayed and I could see why, but these paintings stood out because they represented the men of the renaissance, with references to ancient Rome instead of Christianity. The Allegory of Spring was my favorite, not just because we have a copy of it at home, but also because it looks like a Flemish Tapistry and contains over 130 specifically named plants.

The museum was fascinating and we walked on through rooms and rooms of masterpieces. After a couple of hours we started to get tiered but we had to keep going. This place was huge and it wouldn’t surprise me if people entered the Uffizi and died of old age before escaping. We were close to the exit when we passed a darkened room full of flopped out tourists, recovering on giant brown sofas and armchairs. Were they still breathing? Was this another version of the Hunger Games? Dehydrated and desperate, they knew, like us, that there were still at least 5 rooms to go…After cramping and blistering we finally crawled out of Florence’s culture maze! Was the Uffizi Hunger Games worth completing? See for yourselves 😉

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Les Fauves at Collioure

     It was the summer of 1905. Matisse was joined by Derain at Collioure for a summer holiday. The rich blue of the sea, the pastel of the houses, the red and green of the boats and the yellow ocher of the sand inspired their works which displayed incredibly vibrant brush strokes and colors. The passion and energy of the paintings were visible for all to see and people started referring to the artist’s as “Les Fauves” or the wild beasts.

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  What I love about Collioure is that it is seems to have remained unchanged from the time when the Fauvists were here. You can walk around the town and follow a trail of replica paintings hung at the very spots where the artists painted their masterpieces. Stand where they once stood and gaze at their present and reflect on your own.  The medieval streets wind away from sandy bays where fishing boats are docked, flowers twist their way around old doors, the royal castle looks down upon a stone causeway against which the sea crashes and catches tourists unawares. Rock pools, fish, gulls and a rainbow of colored houses spilling off the mountainside. Just when you think it couldn’t get much prettier, you turn the corner and see the once lighthouse, now converted into the church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges, its large cross dark against the blue water and the yellow cliff and the town walls, built all the way up to the sea’s edge.

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I went there with my best friend Laura, whom I met when I was 9 years old at primary school and we have remained friends ever since.  We had a big seafood platter lunch, with lobster, crab and shellfish on the sea front at alovely french bistro and then walked around and did some shopping in the little boutique side streets. I bought a really nice white cotton top and some pottery. The shops here sell some great local produce, so its a great place to buy some super lovely souvenirs 😉

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Fauvism is the style of les Fauves (French for “the wild beasts”), a loose group of early twentieth-century Modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong color over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism. Characteristics of Fauvism  include warm and cold colors  juxtaposed to add excitement and  left almost unblended, the emotional quality of color was emphasized,drawings were simplified, there was no attempt at 3D drawing as most areas of the canvas were left “flat” and a dark line can often be seen around some elements.

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La Belle Epoque

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Rudyard Kipling , the British writer, poet and novelist sojourned four times at Vernet-Les-Bains. In his letters home, he talked about Canigou, the magician among mountains, comparing it to the peaks of the Himalayas and certain hills in South Africa, which evoked mystery and spirituality. He, like many Brits had come in search of the winter sun and it were these pioneering, adventurous Victorians who are credited with the emergence of French alpine tourism. It was during the 1830s, when three more sources of water rich in sulfur and natural health properties were discovered, that the Belle Époque buildings and spa were built, to cater for vast numbers of health tourists. The arrival of the son of the pacha of Egypt and Constantinople, prince Ibrahim Pacha in 1846 really gave Vernet-Les-Bains international notoriety.

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Now, many of the old grand buildings of the Belle Époque have gone, but there are two particularly impressive Art Deco buildings which remain, Le Grand Hotel Du Portugal and the Casino next door to it. They really are so beautiful and an impressive reminder of this golden age. The Grand Hotel is such a great representation of french architecture and I loved all the colors and the gardens. For our trip I wore glitzy sequin slip-ons and a very bold red jacket with big black buttons. I thought it fitting to add a black star to my lapel to bring me some luck for my game on the roulette and thought that the red of the jacket and my lipstick would be in sharp contrast to the black of the buttons and of the shoes. To really jazz up the look I decided to carry a hard mini case clutch made out of various tin cans and recycled metal.

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I never have enough money to bet on numbers, so on the rare occasions that I do go to the casino I tend to play black/red ;)… if things go badly I just leave feeling depressed for the next two hours and if things go well I turn into a crazy addict on a roll-

Red, red..it IS going to be RED next…Ermm, Abi how do you know? I just know, I know because I have a system OK?!, I must stick to the system, the patterns…The roulette gets me and I get the roulette. Red, it must be red….BLACK…!DAMN! F***! Abi watches with watering eyes as the croupier racks in her chips… It’s your fault, you broke my concentration…its over, our winning streak is finished and it is ALL YOUR FAULT… ????? Ok, maybe its not ALL your fault…I think your right, maybe its time to leave, I think I may have done enough gambling for one day…

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Abi xxx

WEARING

Red Jacket –  CHRISTIAN LACROIX

Ripped Jeans – PRIMARK

Fairtrade Recycled Can Hard Clutch Bag – PITT RIVERS MUSEUM

Black and Silver Sequin Slip-ons – TESCOS

Black Star Brooch – VINTAGE

Earrings – BULGARI

Diamond Bracelet – MACY’S

Silver Bangle – AFGHAN CONNECTION (Charity Supporting Girl’s Education in Afghanistan)

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My Best Moments at London Fashion Week: Turtle Tales, Acid Caves and Sweeping Gowns

  I promised that I would share some of my most favorite collections and pictures from my time at London Fashion Week. My best moments were seeing Cara Delevingne strut her stuff on the catwalk for Top Shop, sitting front row at the Emerging Trends Show, meeting some of you guys at the Meet Up group after party and having my first look into a fashion week goodie bag!The beautiful diversity and array of different designers was fantastic and here were some that I particularly enjoyed and which would make amazing statement outfits for a very special occasion! Let me know what you think of my choices!? 🙂

La Mo Designs by Leonora Asomanin

This was one of the most interesting collections showcased at the Synergy Boston Emerging Trends runway show. A textile interpretation of a Japanese folk story called Urashima Taro and the Turtle, these garments visually re-told the story of a fisherman who delved into the mystical metallic underwater palace in the deep barrier reef. In the story, a fisherman rescues a turtle and is taken to a magical underwater palace as a reward. There he falls in love with a sea princess and ends up staying for 300 years. The dresses in this way were so exotic, the prints garish yet subtle and soothing like water. I really couldn’t get enough! Leonora’s hand drawn and photographic designs are then developed on Photoshop and are then printed onto silk. She is influenced as a designer by various cultures, nature and architecture, three things which are very close to my own heart. Having grown up in Brentwood in Essex, Leonora studied a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at London College of Fashion and has just graduated this July from the University of Portsmouth with a degree in Fashion and Textiles with Enterprise. La Mo Designs and this creative budding designer is definitely one to watch out for!

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Jungle Rave by Sophia Webster

One of the most interesting scenes of the week was undoubtedly Sophia’s acid rave cave held in Southbank’s vaults. Neon Spray paint and ‘Jungle is Massive’ emblazoned the walls. Loud music and bold eye fulls of color. There were electric-camo prints, sandals complete with floral motifs and daring bondage boots, as well as accessories provided by Claire’s. Aztec, geometric shapes and vibrant animal print emblazoned footwear that was loud, proud. Revlon created the look and it was as daring as the shoes. Taking on a Mayan masked beauty theme, the model’s faces were chalked up white (something we’ve seen before at Vivienne Westwood), to create an ancient tribal feel. This was the perfect morning wake up call, so exciting and so fresh. Loved the jungle print flower shoes I went bananas for the clutch!

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Prieston by Noemi Nagy

Long trains made out of sea through lace floral print made each piece so dramatic. So much glamor an so many extremes, the collection was inspired by Russia. The length of the gowns really transferred the idea of exaggerated feelings and the Swarovski Crystals made these designs even more luxurious. An absolute must if you want to make a spectacular entrance!

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My Girls On Tour invited to London Fashion Week!

I am so pleased to announce to you all that My Girls On Tour was invited by Synergy Boston to attend London Fashion Week! I can’t wait to share with you all the incredible new designers and trends that we got to see, but first, I would like to thank Synergy and in particular Andy for contacting My Girls On Tour and for extending the invite to Chelsea Fashion and Social Networking Group. It was great to see some of you guys there and I hope next year that even more of you can come too! 🙂

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So what was it like backstage at one of the world’s most important fashion events? … Well, let me show you 😉

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On the opening night of London Fashion Week we had the pleasure to attend the Emerging Trends runway show, a unique event committed to advancing the fashion industry’s exceptional emerging designers and one of Europe’s most anticipated fashion events of the year.  The Synergy team had just flown in from New York Fashion Week and the pressure was on for them to deliver an equally impressive show and boy, they really did succeed in doing so! The evening surpassed all of my expectations, from the amazing designs and the beautiful models to the after party attended by London’s top fashionistas, the night was incredible and to be there really felt like a dream come true.

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We arrived at the sumptuous Radission Blu Portman Hotel, where the show was taking place. We were directed up to the first floor, passed the large vases filled with beautiful flowers and the intimate groups of fashionistas sipping on pre-show cocktails in the  hotel lobby. With our VIP red wrist bands we were given luxurious gift bags containing organic shampoos and hair care products by the events sponsors Unite, U Luxury and Organic Care Systems, so no excuses for a bad hair day!

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Passed security, we entered into a room which could only be described as any woman’s perfect world: trays laden which sparkling champagne flutes, make up artists touching up guests make up and hair stylists offering their skills to brighten up your look before you have your picture taken on the red carpet. I had my lipstick and foundation done but chickened out on the extra blusher offered up! A DJ played lounge house and we stalked the waiters and their trays of stuffed prawns round the room. The sense of excitement filled the air and although none of us could wait to see the show, we were having a pretty good time waiting in this pink bubbly paradise.

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We were front row and had a great view of the runway. The room filled up and then the lights changed neon blue. The sound systems racked up and the air was filled with an edgy urban vibe.We were at London Fashion Week and I could tell this was going to be amazing!

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To the house beat, models emerged and glided passed us. Each designer’s style was so different and the variety in the collections was great. We were so close, we could see every detail and it was amazing. All the garments were so unique and of really high quality- haute couture at its best. The 8 designers were from all over the world, including the USA, Dubai, India, Indonesia and Europe and I can’t wait to tell you all about them soon as their collections were so spectacular and original.

Here is a video of some of our best backstage moments! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

Jester Scarf Print and Bank Holiday Oxymoron

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So I’m back now in London and although I haven’t quite finished showing you my photos and tales from my recent trip to Spain, I thought that today I would share with you the outfit that I wore today for my stroll around my urban neighborhood. The joys of a bank holiday only became apparent to me recently when I started working as a paralegal in the city. Until my first job, I had always had August free from school or university. Honestly, I hadn’t even know that there was a bank holiday in the summer. So whilst working as a paralegal, the importance of this lone Monday off grew inside my mind to the point of bursting and in the same way as a desert camel looks forward to its next drink, I got through my days thanks to the thought of this mini- break. Indeed, there is only one feeling more powerful than the elation felt on the Friday evening when you leave work knowing you have 3 WHOLE days off… and that is the despair and utter devastation felt on the Monday night knowing that you will have to go back to work tomorrow and that there isn’t a holiday now in sight until Christmas. So apart from the images of Hieronymus Bosch’s various hells which flash through your mind on that last evening of freedom and which, lets just face it can’t be helped, I do hope that you have a wonderful bank holiday! 🙂

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The shirt which I have worn for today’s outfit really reflects this oxymoron. I really like this scarf print as it reminds me of a pack of cards or indeed the dress usually worn by the King’s Fool with the fabric sown into a mirror image and bright squares of color. As in Shakespeare’s plays, jesters such as Feste, although Fools, are often the wisest of the court and although their jokes are funny, they are often infused with sadness. The office bank holiday in this regard be considered the jester’s modern day equivalent of a joke.

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Recently I have been a massive fan of ripped skinny and boyfriend jeans. All the shops are selling them with the odd slit and the odd hole in, but none of them sell jeans which have been cut out and so I set out to create my own. As you probably already know, cut-out jeans is a new fashion which involves not only ripping and fraying new looking trousers, but also removing large parts of the fabric. I really love this look as it means that baggy trousers look more feminine and can be matched with long shirts or t-shirts without making the wearing looking like a prize whale.

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I chose a pair of very cheap and over sized boyfriend shorts in Primark, took them home and then made one cut just around the place where my shorts would end and then another cut just above the knee. I then cut the trousers down from the top cut to the bottom cut and in doing so removed the fabric from the front part of the upper thigh. Make sure though to only cut the front part of the trouser leg and to leave the back intact. Here I have worn these trousers with white casual slip-ons and a scarf print shirt, which is longer at the front than it is at the back.

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I will be releasing a detailed video of the different ways to customize your jeans and how to carry out different cuts to achieve the both the cut-out look and the ripped jean look, so make sure you stay tuned 😉

Wearing

Remix Silk Scarf Print Shirt – ASOS

Boyfriend Jeans – PRIMARK

Evil Eye Jewellery – ALI EXPRESS

Large White Pearl Bracelet – ALI EXPRESS

Arrival and Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

A visit to see my parents who are the artists in residence at Oriel y Park in St Davids was a great excuse to come to this beautiful part of the world. Our place overlooked the sea and was just a short walk two minute walk to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National trail which ran above dark cliffs and  overlooked a pretty secluded private beach.

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What an incredible part of the world! On our first day we ventured down the grassy banks and along the flower lined paths. Thick gorse bushes have been grown specially to protect walkers from the sudden drops. Our perched position meant that we could see the silver glistening sea, St David’s Head in the distance and the famous Ramsay Island. As we walked our eyes followed the beautiful natural undulations of the earth. Little coves and cut off beaches, ship wrecks, eroded stones and pitch black caves. The sea was turquoise, the sand shone yellow in the summer sun.

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From St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, the trail covers almost every kind of maritime landscape from steep limestone cliffs, undulating red sandstone bays, volcanic headlands, beaches, estuaries and flooded glacial valleys.  – See more at: http://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/explore-pembrokeshire/coast-path/#sthash.3vbV7uIt.dpuf

 I particularly loved the coastal flowers and the plants which had grown and flourished on the cliff tops. During our time in St Davids we didn’t walk the whole of the path, but instead chose to do select little walks. Walking the whole trail takes between 10-15 days and the ascents and descents are apparently equivalent to 35,000 feet, the same as climbing Mt Everest! On our first day, we walked from where we were staying to Whitesands, a large beach popular with surfers and brave swimmers alike. The wind was strong and after dipping our toes in the water we went to the little cafe and had ice creams. After that we ventured back and after watching the sun go down I ate my first summer BBQ!

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Two great things to do whilst in St Davids is to have a surfing lesson if you have never done so or else take a boat trip to Ramsay Island for a spot of bird, whale and sea watching!

Completing the Coast Path in one go, taking on average between 10 to 15 days, is quite an undertaking. The ascents and descent are said to be the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest; 35,000 feet!  – See more at: http://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/explore-pembrokeshire/coast-path/#sthash.3vbV7uIt.dpuf
Completing the Coast Path in one go, taking on average between 10 to 15 days, is quite an undertaking. The ascents and descent are said to be the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest; 35,000 feet!  – See more at: http://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/explore-pembrokeshire/coast-path/#sthash.3vbV7uIt.dpuf
Completing the Coast Path in one go, taking on average between 10 to 15 days, is quite an undertaking. The ascents and descent are said to be the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest; 35,000 feet!  – See more at: http://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/explore-pembrokeshire/coast-path/#sthash.3vbV7uIt.dpuf
Completing the Coast Path in one go, taking on average between 10 to 15 days, is quite an undertaking. The ascents and descent are said to be the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest; 35,000 feet!  – See more at: http://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/explore-pembrokeshire/coast-path/#sthash.3vbV7uIt.dpuf

Jean Paul Gaultier Retrospective

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Two days ago I went to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition which is now on at the Barbican, the first major exhibition devoted to the celebrated French couturier.

Regulated by the Chabmre Syndcale de la Couture Parisienne, haute couture is shown exclusively in Paris. Couture houses must comply with specific requirements regarding how the garments are made, presented and sold. Unlike industrially produced pre-a-porter, couture is a fine craft in which one of a kind objects are the products of technical virtuosity. Everything involved in a couture garment must be accomplished hundreds of hours of work. Each element is undertaken by a specialist in the relevant craft, including tailors, embroiders and lace-makers among  many other. Even though it receives a great deal of media attention, rarely in the general public afforded a direct experience of haute couture.

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The 165 garments and costumes are undoubtedly more like works of art.

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Jean Paul Gaultier draws clear inspiration from uniforms to mermaids and the Madonna. The Breton stripe is a design staple for Gaultier and he routinely reworks variations of the stripes in both his haute couture and pret-a-porter collections. As well as the sailor jumper in which he was dressed from a young age, other sources of nautical inspiration cited by Gaultier include Coco Chanel and Popeye.

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I loved seeing the iconic “Bustiers” and the very famous Madonna cone bo as well as the one worn by Grace Jones James Bond.

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Jean Paul Gaultier was fascinated when he came to London in the 1960s by the Punk Style and fashion. Here as some of his interpretations of this alternative look. Loved the Union Jack Mohoc and Amy Winehouse manequin. Gaultier caused shock by using unconventional models for his exhibitions, like older men and full-figured women, pierced and heavily tattooed models, and by playing with traditional gender roles in the shows. This earned him both criticism and enormous popularity.

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Gaultier is fascinated by world cultures and countercultures, conceiving a new kind of fashion in both the way it is made and worn. Through twists, transformations, transgressions and reinterpretations, he not only erases the boundaries between cultures but also the sexes, redefining the idea of androgyny or subverting fashion codes. I loved the concept of one of the collections that of “skin deep beauty”

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My favorite collection was that of the Urban Jungle: Jumpsuits with parrot feather wings on the arms, crocodile leather ensemble, feather and beaded dresses. The use of different materials, medium and textures was so impressive and a real joy to see.

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If you get a chance you should definitely check out this collection at the Barbican and if can’t then I hope that this post has enabled you to see some of these amazing creations 🙂

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