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The Enchanting World of Victoria Brook by Jean Clark

The Enchanting World of Victoria Brook, by Jean Clark for Etc Magazine, March 2014

Once upon a time, I walked into an Eastbourne art gallery and  was  surrounded by the most magical paintings I’d ever seen.

Each one lured me into a world of mystery and enchantment, secret places usually inhabited by children’s imagination as they journey into the unknown world of bedtime stories.

Take the picture entitled The Bedtime Story. A giant polar bear plods through the icy wood with a father and two young children on its back; snowflakes fall around as they listen rapt to his tale. And there The Unseen : a white spectre glides down a blood-red staircase emitting a deathly glow while a frightened soul crouches besides the grandfather clock.

Meanwhile over in The Library, a spindly figure teeters on a precarious ladder and, regardless of the danger, shines his lantern over the books in his search for hidden treasure.

The creative genius behind these extraordinary images is the young illustrator and painter Victoria Brook who, since leaving Reading University with a first-class arts degree in 2008,  has earned a reputation among artists and public alike as one of today’s most original and exciting talents.

Her limited-edition Giclee prints are rapidly becoming collectors’ items and her work has invited comparison with the great illstrators  Ernest Shepard, Sir john Tenniel, Quentin Blake, Edward Ardizzone and Beatrix Potter.

Victoria is already represented by three prestigious galleries in the south east, who not only admire her work but are enamoured by her delightful and unassuming personality.

Clare Richards, co-owner of the Wey Gallery in Surrey, where she is listed between Dame Elizabeth Blackadder and Sir Peter Blake on their website, attributes Victoria’s success to her “ability to tell stories through her paintings. Uou always see something new and never tire of her exquisite imagination”.

Eastbourne Framing Centre and Gallery owner Lucy Newport agrees:

“Not only is her work truly enchanting and magical but she is a charming and humble artist, who is committed to her dream. Her paintings show how a child’s imagination works and appeals to all ages”.

When we meet at her studio in Eastbourne, Victoria tells me how being part of a creative family influenced her creative passion. Her father loved inventing things and at Easter he would put ” the plastic boaters with tissue paper and tiny chickens  in the shade with his full-scale rabbits with electronically-engineered rotating ears!”

Her first memory of excelling at art was winning the first prize in a ‘My Favourite Story’ competition with her interpretation of Peter Pan:

“Tinkerbell was morbidly obese, Wendy only had three sausage fingers and Peter was suffering from sunburn, but I remember the excitement of drawing what I imagined and have never lost that determination.”

After Pashley Down Infant School, Ocklynge Junior School and Cavendish School followed by a foundation year in Art & Design at ECAT, Victoria headed off to university.

Her degree project was a large-scale travelling art installation created with her lifelong friend Caroline Fletcher –  a pink double-decker bus filled with bric-a-brac and equipped with a stage, fireplace, a bar and even a tree. With mannequin Betty in the driving seat, it toured the UK.

“It went from the Edinburgh Fringe to the muddy fields of Glastonbury delighting everyone. It was an amazing opportunity to make art accessible for all and provided a brief escape from reality.”

Back in Eastbourne, Victoria was determined to pursue her dream of becoming a professional painter. with her  main inspiration coming from  her passion for children’s literature.

“Tove Jansson’s Moomin books are among my favourites.” she reveals. “Her ability to capture  emotions in one tiny pen and ink illustration is magical and I’m also a huge fan of  Oliver Jeffers and Levi Pinfold.”

“Animals also feature a great deal in my work because they inhabit secret environments,” she adds.

“When you walk through a forest, it feels as though you enter another world, their domain. I particularly love painting foxes.

“When it’s snowing, I see them from my window at night paddings patterns over the pavements and glowing in the streetlamps.”

There is an ethereal beauty about Victoria that is reflected in paintings and  perfectly captured in You & Me, one of her best-loved images.

“I remember being held by mum at the window as she pointed out everything we could see in the garden.  It is my most personal work and evokes a special moment and strong, nostalgic memories.”

At that very moment, Victoria’s mum comes in to say that some prints have arrived, a neighbour would like to commission a painting for her grandchild in New York and oh, by the way, the Ocado delivery has been dropped off.

Victoria sweetly offers to make her mum a cup of coffee while she puts the shopping away and gives Harry, her beloved cat, his favourite fish for lunch.

She scoops him up in her arms and as he nuzzles against her, purring loudly, it is clear that he, too, has fallen under the enchanting spell of Victoria Brook.

More of Victoria’s work can be found on our on-line shop.

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Our lovely new door sign says it all…

Thanks to the wonderful Gail McKay for the beautiful  sketch of our shop building, and Lindon East for some lovely artwork.



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Personalised wedding infographics celebrate your unique day

New to Eastbourne Framing Centre for winter are these wonderful, bespoke graphics, which capture the uniqueness of a wedding day.

Working with a professional design agency we can now offer a truly unique celebration of one of the biggest days of anyone’s life. And no two are ever the same…

Tell us what happened at your wedding and we’ll do the rest. See our demo below.
Parents and relatives can also gift this to the happy couple with one of our special gift cards. Also below.

Order on 01323 647822 or visit!

Framed, personalised infographics start at £150





Gift Card

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Ben’s top 7 tips for young creators


Local artist and teacher Ben Pavey gives his advice to young designers and describes how he has moved from a creative idea to making money from it.

“I’ve been involved in designing and creating for many years. And so my work as a design and technology teacher allows me to be involved in that creative process on a daily basis. The biggest problem for most of my students is that they have very little understanding of the gap between coming up with an idea and seeing that idea as a commercial product, being desired, displayed and bought by others.

“Being involved in creating my own design work and recently starting to sell my work in high street locations, has been fascinating, exciting and inspiring. There are a lot of students I teach that would have wonderful design careers if they had the confidence and knowledge of how to get started. The following tips are a summary of what I’ve been saying to my students about my last year. They’re simple points really but ones i think will help and ones I hadn’t realised about design or about myself.

Creative people are nice – I think I thought I would encounter more snobbery and competitiveness but if you put yourself out there people will either kindly decline your work or become as enthused as you.

That everyone helps one another – Again, when it comes to independent retailers and arts-and-crafts-makers there is a real sense that we are all pulling together to promote a creative alternative to the mass produced goods.

That people like the things I make – This was a very slow realisation and for a long time not having confidence in myself was the biggest brake on my progress. Listen to all feedback and friends but believe in your work and your work will progress.

Good things take time – Be patient with yourself and enjoy the journey. Know that investing hours and hours into a piece of artwork that you are not happy with is much harder than something you feel is going to be great.

Watch less TV – Almost all the time I use for designing is from when I used to watch TV in the evenings, it’s not the same for everyone but for me it was a habit I don’t miss.

Use Twitter – I have a website (that needs updating) and facebook page but by far the most effective, useful and successful social media and marketing tool, for me,  has been Twitter. Whole communities of local and international artists, makers, printers, communities easily and instantly share ideas, pictures, events and messages, offer advice and support at the touch of a button. 

Know all there is to know about processes – for me the medium is printing. When i started to sell my work i investigated the different processes, colours, finishes, papers, profit margins and especially costs! Personally, I really love screen printing, I had no idea how brilliant that looks and am now experimenting with wood block printing myself. I am still learning and enjoying it.

I feel like I’m just starting out still and the above are just some of my own thoughts on the last year. These are tips and tricks I offer my classes of 14-16 year olds. If you’ve been designing and making for years then you’ll know all this, but any other key things you might say to a student to help them move from an idea or talent to a career or just getting their work ‘out there’ would be really welcome. I really invite your comments.

Many thanks, Ben”

(Ben Pavey pictured above at his summer exhibition. Below an example of Ben’s Eastbourne master piece.)

Ben’s work can be viewed online and in-store. Eastbourne map

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On being an artist by Victoria Brook


One of Eastbourne’s finest young illustrators tells of her unusual and delightful inspiration into art and illustration.

“One year before my parents knew they were even going to have me, they bought a bear. We met in the autumn of 1985. I named him ‘Teddy’. This silent, reassuring stranger was to become a lifelong friend. We had an unspoken agreement that even though society branded him a mere stuffed child’s toy, without intellectual capacity or independent movement, I knew the bear legal system inside out. He just wasn’t allowed to move in front of me. I would leave elaborate picnics by his side, give him an understanding nod and wait outside the door, occasionally bursting in to catch him out- obviously he was wise to this so his feasting went unwitnessed, and still does.  The love of my imaginative childhood has never worn out for me. Being read all the classics- Paddington, Teddy Robinson, Wind in the Willows, Winnie-the Pooh and the Moomin tales to name but a few, has passionately inspired my artwork and my life.

I believe artwork for young people in all forms should be available and promoted as a key part of a child’s visual and social education. I think art is so important in childhood development because imagination opens up windows of possibility to anyone from any walk of life. You have to know that if you are unhappy as a child, nothing stays static- youth is only the start of your journey. We love stories because they take the ordinary and make extraordinary things happen, but narratives will always be influenced by the real world and fictional characters are usually interpretations of real people. If we can understand at an early age the motives and reasoning of fictional characters, even ones we don’t like, I genuinely believe it will make us more tolerant and accepting adults in later life. Imagination is by its nature an unrealistic escape, but every valuable idea has to start with it. If you can at least imagine that it’s possible, you’re halfway there.

My bear, much like my old books, is now very careworn. His fur is gone, his nose is bald, his eyes are foggy from the boiled sweet glasses I made him and his half moon ears have long since disintegrated. He has valiantly accompanied me through every childhood adventure and adolescent catastrophe into adulthood and, much to my partner’s dismay, remains my truest confident. He now sits very still on a shelf in my studio to preserve his loose limbs and hole worn head- although in times of trouble he always seems to be looking my way.

Victoria’s work can be viewed online and in-store.



blog photo

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Understanding The Art of Great Framing


Art enthusiasts are accustomed to viewing beautiful pictures in complementary frames. While aficionados certainly appreciate the pairing of a work of art and a frame, they may not realize the true art that goes into great framing. Frames can be integral to an overall interior design scheme. A great frame can also accentuate and alter the piece of art that it contains. To make a truly valuable art investment, buyers must keep the importance of great framing in mind.

The art of framing takes many years to master. Though it may not seem so at first glance, framing consists of more than simply putting a picture into a frame suited for its size. The colour of a frame must be carefully chosen to bring out the art piece. Frame style can also have a significant impact on how a picture is perceived. A frame that is either overly simple or overly ornate can diminish the beauty of even the most valuable piece of art. Choosing a frame in the correct style, with a fitting amount of complexity, is a special skill that master framers perfect over the course of their careers.

A well-framed art piece is often central to an interior design scheme. When framing art to complement interior design, many factors must be kept in mind. The style and colour of a frame should not be incongruous with the room in which the artwork is displayed. A series of art works in complementary frames can create a sense of unity in a home gallery or collector’s private study. Matching frames to interior design requires an excellent understanding of architectural composition.

Most art collectors are also aware that a frame can truly impact the appearance of a piece of art. A poorly chosen frame might minimize an art work’s most appealing attributes. Master framers choose frame colours, textures and styles that bring out the palette and essence of an art work. They ensure that an art piece is displayed in a frame that can best enhance its beauty and appeal.

Professional framing is also an excellent investment for art collectors and enthusiasts. A well-framed artwork will generally be afforded a higher monetary value than an artwork that languishes away in an ill-chosen frame. When purchasing artwork, it is absolutely essential to pay close attention to framing. Having a piece of art professionally framed is an excellent fiscal investment that also enhances the aesthetic pleasure associated with the artwork.



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Hot or Cold: Solid Bronze and Bronze Resin Sculptures


The beauty of bronze sculpture has appealed to artists and art lovers for millennia, but only recently has an alternative to bronze made its way into galleries and sculpture gardens. Bronze resin sculptures now grace homes and museums along with their traditional solid bronze counterparts. Both materials have their benefits for artists and for collectors, but they differ in a few key ways.

Hot or Cold Bronze

An alloy of copper, bronze has such historic importance that it has an age named after it. Although it has a relatively low melting point for a metal alloy, bronze is still quite hot in absolute terms; it requires temperatures of as much as 900 degrees Celsius to melt. From the time the sculptor pours the molten metal into its mould to finishing touches with welding equipment, heat is integral to producing solid bronze sculpture. This is why solid bronze is also known as hot-cast bronze or foundry bronze. Artists have been making it in much the same way for centuries.

By contrast, resin bronze takes little or no heat to produce. Also called cold-cast bronze, bronze resin sculptures consist of an epoxy-like matrix and bronze powder blended to make a thick liquid that hardens to a solid with the lustre of bronze. The resinous material has the same consistency and flow as molten bronze, but at room temperatures.

Solid Bronze or Bronze Resin?

Durable and traditional, solid bronze sculpture holds its value. Depending on the artist’s method of production, a solid bronze sculpture may be one of a kind or part of a small series; moulds for bronze last for only a limited number of uses due to the tremendous temperatures involved. Because each piece has few or no copies, foundry bronze sculptures are more valuable and command higher prices in galleries.

Foundry bronze is substantial; it’s heavy and feels cold to the touch. Over time, it can develop a natural patina that adds to its appeal for many collectors. It weathers any conditions and resists damage.

Bronze resin makes beautiful sculpture more accessible. Because the moulds used to shape it undergo no thermal stress, resin sculpture can be produced in as many identical lots as the artist chooses to make. The smaller amounts of bronze needed for each piece also keeps these sculptures more affordable. The material lets artists create forms ideally suited to resin casting; airy shapes with slender supports are easier to realise in lightweight bronze resin.

Cold-cast bronze sculpture retains the surface texture and colour that the artist applies rather than acquiring a patina over time. Although it withstands weather well, it is softer than solid cast bronze.

Both foundry bronze sculpture and bronze resin sculpture have a place in galleries, museums and collectors’ homes.

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Art As Investment


In today’s difficult economic climate, many individuals are seeking alternative ways to invest their money. Collecting art has long been considered an excellent way to safeguard something valuable for the future. Purchasing the works of well-known artists makes fiscal sense even in a tough economy. Artistic works generally increase in value over time, making them a great addition to anyone’s portfolio.

Both limited edition prints and original works can be very valuable. The works of well-known artists such as Rolf Harris and Jack Vettriano provide particularly excellent investment potential. Art lovers who are fans of a particular artist can build of collection of original paintings and limited edition prints. Such collections can increase in value over time.

Collections can be sold to private galleries or museums at a substantial profit. Such institutions are generally happy to invest in ready-made collections. They demonstrate forethought and intelligence on the part of the owner. Such pieces are particularly valuable to museums if they have been properly preserved in frames. It is essential that both original paintings and limited edition prints be stored and displayed carefully. Buyers should seek professional assistance when framing prints and preparing paintings for display.

Some collectors prefer to pass treasured paintings and prints to their children or grandchildren as heirloom items. With proper care, such pieces can remain in a family for many generations. The value of such art pieces will likely increase over time, offering individuals who inherit them an extra measure of financial security.

Art is one of the few investments that provides both visual and fiscal pleasure to its owners. A beautiful art piece can be enjoyed in a home or office every day. A painting or limited edition print is an asset that is absolutely portable, moving with its owners wherever they go. The long-standing tradition of investing in art is sure to continue well into the new millennium.

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A Biography: Jack Vettriano

Parlour of Temptation

Over the past 20 years, Jack Vettriano has become one of the most important Scottish artists involved in the contemporary art scene. Vettriano’s most recent works have captured human subjects as they go about work and leisure activities. He has completed a number of commissioned works for both private individuals and large organisations. Vettriano occasionally completes portraits for private subjects.

As in his earlier works, human subjects have remained front and centre in Vettriano’s works. He tends to capture the long lines of the human body with grace and ease. His more recent works, such as those pieces displayed at his Days of Wine and Roses exhibition in 2010, are edgier than his earlier paintings. While they retain an excellent sense of realism, they tend to be less dream-like than his previous work.

Much of Vettriano’s current work has focused on the female form and seduction. “Night Calls” and “Queen of Diamonds” make use of women’s legs as a sensual statement. His works walk the line between serious and playful, always appealing to the sensibilities of collectors who like thought-provoking art centred on the human condition. His most recent pieces have focused on human faces and expressions, which presents a departure from earlier pieces such as “The Singing Butler.”

A handful of Vettriano’s recent works were inspired by photographs taken at the tram station in Milan, Italy. The artist and his model were photographed in a number of eye-catching poses aboard Milan trams. The original photographs were displayed alongside the works that inspired them in the Days of Wine and Roses Exhibition.

Jack Vettriano was born in Fife, Scotland, in 1951. He caught the eye of the art world in 1989 with an entry into the Royal Scottish Academy’s art exhibition. He has received substantial recognition in art markets worldwide.


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Four Tips for Incorporating Sculpture into Home Decor


The right work of art can set the tone for a room or serve as the centrepiece for the decor of the entire home. While many collectors restrict themselves to paintings and other two-dimensional works of art, sculpture is an ideal way to continue an artistic theme, make a visual statement or create a focal point that brings together an entire collection of artistic works. By expanding their artistic acquisitions to include sculptural works, collectors can add a new dimension to their interior decor and provide a sense of depth for their entire art collection. Here are four hints on finding the perfect sculpture to add a fresh perspective to interior home design.

Look at art in a new way

In contrast to paintings and other two-dimensional artistic works, the sculptural medium allows viewers to approach the artwork from many different directions. When purchasing a sculpture, it is essential to examine the piece thoroughly and from multiple perspectives in order to ensure that it will complement existing decor and that it creates the desired effect from every angle.

Find the theme

Adding three-dimensional artworks to an existing collection of paintings or photographs can be challenging. While many painters also work in the sculptural medium, their sculptures may be in sharp contrast to their painted works and may not complement an existing artistic theme in the home. By considering the artworks and styles represented in the existing decor, collectors can often find the sculpture that fits the theme and suits their personal style perfectly.

Maintain proportion

A too-large sculpture can overwhelm the other pieces in the room, while small pieces may be overlooked entirely. Sculptures should be proportioned to the size of the room and displayed as a focal point in order to achieve the best possible results for artistic home decor.

Add a sense of whimsy

The right sculpture can become a beloved conversation piece for family and friends, especially if it is unexpected or whimsical in nature. By incorporating a light-hearted sculptural work into the existing decor, collectors can add a personal touch to their art acquisitions while enhancing the beauty of their homes.

As with two-dimensional works of art, finding the right sculpture is primarily a matter of personal taste and style. Sculptural artworks can make a dramatic visual statement by adding a new dimension of elegance and beauty to home decor.

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