Meet Vanda and Csaba, the partners behind ‘dazzled’

Vanda Lengyel and Csaba Aknay first met in Budapest, almost 10 years ago, but it was only when they met again in London, 4 years ago, that their story really kicked off. Together, they created “Dazzled”, an exhibition that, in the shadow of the head-spinning Brexit uncertainty, celebrates human values, diversity and the power of friendship. 

Born and raised in a small town in North-Eastern Hungary to teacher parents, Vanda has always sought to carve her own path in life. After spending her university years in Budapest, she lived in Sweden and Germany, where she pursued further studies, and in Switzerland and Australia, where she worked, mainly in events production. Driven by the desire to shift sectors, cultures and geography, she decided to move to London in 2013. 

“I was curious about what possibilities would open for me and was willing to bet on the unknown. I have travelled a lot, driven by my curiosity and my need to find my purpose”, she tells.

She currently works as a senior project manager for our tenant Playfields, an experience design consultancy. In her view, our network holds the support that we need to keep our balance and help us stay centred even in challenging times. In the shadow of the Brexit uncertainty, it is essential to focus on and celebrate the human values that create the positive structure of our reality. Not having family in London, her network here is formed by friends who she trusts and admires. She thought the time has come to look back on her journey, reflect on her past 6 years in London and come up with an artistic concept that is both personal and relatable by anyone who ever started-up a new life, rootless in a new city or country.

That is when the collaboration with Csaba happened. A photographer for nearly 20 years, exhibiting in London was in his plans for the near future. Seeing the artistic potential of working on an exhibition which was based on someone else’s idea, he embraced the challenge through The Orbital Strangers Project, a portrait and movie photography collaboration he developed with friend Gabor Kotschy in 2013. 

Csaba grew up in an artistic family, and from an early age, self-expression came naturally to him. “Photography is not only my profession and how I earn my living but my platform for self-expression. It provides me with the joy of creation”, he says. He shoots mainly portraits, and is drawn towards classical photography and the visual world of the ‘60s, which can be seen in Dazzled”. 

“This series is London-related and very personal to Vanda. It was important to find the right approach and bring the visual language of The Orbital Strangers to life without repressing the distinctive tone of the concept”, he explains. 

Vanda considers the series to be like a mirror to her:

“When I look at the portraits, I see my friends and the reflections of myself at the same time. While there have certainly been challenges starting up in London, these images remind me of the positive impact my friends had on my life, the experiences we shared and the many ways how my life is richer by having the chance of knowing them”. 

Csaba completes: “The whole project is a complex piece of art for me, where every single image has its well-defined place”. They are now working on an extended version of the series, but you can catch the current show from Thursday 24th October at The Print House Gallery. Find out more.

Bootstrap Charity is a workspace and business-led charity that promotes responsible business as a way to address inequality in Hackney.


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