INSIGHTS

March 2017 - Aleesha Callahan March 24 2017

The life of contemporary women is complex, multifaceted, sometimes challenging, sometimes overwhelming yet also brimming with opportunity. We ask some of our most treasured Chorus clients to share insights into how they juggle professional and personal life.

This month we visit our friend, the very talented Aleesha Callahan at her home in Brunswick, Melbourne. Aleesha is the online editor of Australian Design Review and the newly appointed editor of Mezzanine Magazine, a different kind of design publication that showcases the talent of Australian design, bridging the gap between the industry and the design curious.

What is important to you when you dress each morning? And what inspires this?
I always check the weather first thing in the morning because I hate being dressed inappropriately and Melbourne can be so unpredictable! I wish I could say I’m the type of person who has the next day’s outfit all planned and perfectly laid out the night before, but that’s just not me. Generally, it’s a case of thinking about what I have on that day – am I interviewing or meeting with someone, or do I have an event after work – it’s these things that inform what I choose to wear. And whether it’s clean! There are definitely certain pieces I always go to because they’re comfortable and when I put them on it’s an instant confidence boost.

The key things I always aim for are – will I be comfortable and will I feel confident?

I also have another little habit that will make me sound like a bit of a nerd, but if I’m really struggling to find something to wear, I’ll scroll through a folder of outfit screenshots and images on my phone. I think it’s easy to be overwhelmed or distracted by the bombardment of media around us these days, so this collection is like my own curated personal-style reference. It’s simply things I know that will suit my shape and make me feel good because sometimes riffling through my drawers/rack is not enough to pull an outfit together.  

How have you collected the garments in your wardrobe?
I know it’s really cliché, but as I’ve gotten older I’m much more confident in my own style. I used to pretty much just follow trends and was less concerned about quality. But over the years, it’s the well-made and classic designs that have stood the test of time. I think I’m a bit of a bower bird, I don’t stick to just one brand, my wardrobe is an amalgamation from all different sources – a lot of vintage, simple basics (polos/jeans) from high street brands and I like to invest in the statement pieces.

Where is your working space and how do you feel this affects your work?
I work in an office building with windows that can’t be opened, luckily we have lots of natural light and we recently acquired a bunch of indoor plants. If I’m working at home, it’s a different story though, I will always open up the doors and let lots of light and air in.

There’s a lot of evidence out there about the power of natural materials. This biophilic design methodology is huge right now and it essentially shows the impact of surrounding yourself with fresh air, the sounds of nature, natural light and greenery.

I was interviewing a British architect last week that is an expert in cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction. He said some really interesting things about how the concept of biophlia has already permeated lots of other disciplines, but it has taken architecture a while to catch up. For example, the raw food movement (and eating non-processed foods) and how in fashion people are often more comfortable wearing natural materials like wool, cotton and silk, they bring built-in breathable qualities and feel great on the skin.

What part of your day/ week do you most cherish and why?
There’s a magical time (nearly) every Saturday or Sunday morning, when I get up after a sleep in, make a coffee and sit in my favourite antique armchair with the sun streaming through the living room, and catch up on reading my pile of magazines. I’m sure to anyone with kids this ritual sounds super luxurious and I know it is, but it’s definitely the most relaxing time I have all week. Besides, it’s useful research for work, right? 

How does your background in Design and your Editors eye effect the way you choose your clothing?
The design and architecture world is incredibly creative, which comes out through fashion as well – as a general rule, there are lashings of black, unusual shapes and bold statements – I find it very inspiring. There’s always fantastic people watching at a design event.

For me, it’s nice to have the freedom to use clothing as an extension of my personality. When I lived in London I worked in a corporate office with a strict corporate dress code, I felt like part of my creativity was dampened (not to mention the dreary weather, of course). So that’s definitely something I don’t take for granted anymore.

I am getting better at editing my clothes, I think there’s something to be said for keeping a well-edited wardrobe, but I still hold onto things for pure sentimental value even though I never wear them anymore.

Do you see parallels between fashion design and the architecture and interior design worlds?
There are a multitude of things that cross-over, the minimalist trend is an obvious one and I think that boils down to it being a complete lifestyle choice – so from your interior belongings to your wardrobe.

Another parallel that I find particularly interesting (and a topic I wrote my interior design thesis around) is the notion of authenticity. In both fashion and interiors, it’s always the spaces and outfits that have been organically pulled together through a genuine and innate sense of style that feel so ‘real’. It’s really hard to fake and to replicate. When I experience a space that has that kind of magic it’s just mesmerising. Similarly when I see someone who is just so thoughtfully put together.

I’d have to say that the most important parallel is in sustainability. It feels like there’s a general awakening to what we as humans are doing to the planet. Whether it is because of this or simply that I’m more drawn to reading and educating myself about it. But both the construction industry and the fashion industries can play a major role in a creating more sustainable future. 

What is the biggest insight you can offer other women?
Don’t let people put you in a box. I’ve been told I’m a creative person my entire life, but it turns out I’m more than just ‘creative’, I can also be analytical and numbers focused. More recently I’ve discovered a huge passion for science and it feels like it came out of nowhere. I’m sure from a design, art and architecture point of view, science seems pretty far removed, but actually it folds into technology, which links up with human behaviour. It’s all interwoven, just like our lives and our identities.

You can be more than the demographic categories you fall into.

Aleesha wears pieces from our current Edition with her own jeans and accessories. Images by Sarah Pannell. The current Edition is available to order online or those in Melbourne can visit Milly Sleeping in Carlton to try on samples until Wednesday 5th April. 


Holiday 2016 - Fran Woods December 16 2016

The life of contemporary women is complex, multifaceted, sometimes challenging, sometimes overwhelming yet also brimming with opportunity. We ask some of our most treasured Chorus clients to share insights into how they juggle professional and personal life. 

For our Holiday Edition Lou speaks to Fran Woods, co-director of Franjo’s Kitchen, Lawyer, mother of two beautiful daughters and genuinely one of the most multi talented and hard working women we know.

Fran, we met whilst working in the corporate fashion world, myself as a visual merchandiser and you as a lawyer, in the last few years we’ve both seen some significant career and life changes can you tell us about your career path?
I guess if you look at it from the beginning to end, it seems quite surprising that I’ve gone from lawyer to business owner, but to me, it feels like I’ve been heading here the whole time. I started my legal career in a boutique CBD law firm doing retail leasing and M&A work. I then went in house with the Witchery Holdings Group in 2010 (who were acquired by Country Road in 2012). I spent 6 years in house and absolutely loved being inside a business. I also absolutely love Retail. It’s a fascinating industry to be part of. On the side I was always taking part in projects. I owned a magazine for a while, was a regular food writer for a few publications and also ran a number of events and pop up restaurants. I’ve always wanted to do my own thing and am absolutely passionate about retail, brands and business so I feel like I’m exactly where I should be!

What inspired the starting of Franjo’s and how has the business grown?
When I was breastfeeding my first baby Phoebe, I had supply issues. I introduced formula at around 4 months on advice from the maternal health nurse and became obsessed with increasing my supply naturally. I googled “increase breast milk supply” and found hundreds of biscuit recipes online plus realised that I was not unique in having this problem. Around the same time I met my business partner Jo, a naturopath. Jo was developing her own healthy biscuit company at the time and I just had a brainwave moment where I saw the gap in the market matched with Jo’s skills and Franjo’s was born!

What is the biggest challenge and biggest joy of being your own boss?
Putting aside the financial stuff (i.e working for years without being paid!) I think the biggest challenge is really the self-belief stuff. Starting a business, especially when you are trying to do something new or innovative takes so much hard work and time. We have been going for 2 and a half years and are only just starting to see the true potential of the business. Keeping motivated and believing in what you are trying to achieve is fine on the good days but the real challenge is pushing through during the hard times. Jo and I both had babies last year (Jo had twins) and we had to keep going. That was tough. The joys on the other hand are infinite. I love that I have the freedom to choose my own work schedule. That I can put my kids first if I need to. That I am the master of my own destiny, it comes down to how hard we work. We are working for ourselves, and our families. It feels like a real privilege.

Where do you find yourself working on a daily basis?
On my phone! I work from home and do have a home office set up but I also spend a lot of time working off my phone (yes I’m that mum at the park). We also have lots of meetings, with our creative and branding team, with mentors and recently we have been trying to do a lot more networking and meeting like minded people. Everyday is different.

Do you have a favourite ritual to facilitate rest?
I’ve been on a bit of an exercise buzz lately and that has really helped me sleep and switch off. I’m hooked! Otherwise I love getting stuck into a good tv series with my husband and trying to disconnect my brain from the ever present mental to do list!

What part of your day/ week do you most cherish and why?
I actually love Mondays. The house is clean and quiet, the week is ahead of me and I can get my head sorted for what I need to achieve. I find myself becoming more stressed as the week goes on (when I realise I haven’t achieved anything on my list!). Of course I also love the weekends with my family and Fridays when I try not to work at all and just be present with my girls.

How does the way you dress factor into your daily work routine? 
It really depends whether I am meeting with anyone or not. I try to dress up a little for meetings but when I’m just working from home I pretty much throw on jeans and a t-shirt or my active wear!

What are you wearing when you feel most comfortable?
A beautiful dress. I do love wearing beautiful clothes and making an effort. It doesn’t happen as much as it used to!

Fran wears the Hex Wrap Dress in Black and Navy and the Hex Tee in Black and Navy with the Hex Pants in Bronze. Orders on our Holiday Edition close on Sunday 29th January.   

Images by Sarah Pannell.


October 2016 - Liz Ickiewicz October 24 2016

The life of contemporary women is complex, multifaceted, sometimes challenging, sometimes overwhelming yet also brimming with opportunity. We ask some of our most treasured Chorus clients to share insights into how they juggle professional, personal and sartorial life.

This month we feature Liz Ickiewicz - Chorus friend and customer, jewellery designer and mother to two young and very energetic sons. Liz works with precious metals, gemstones and a range of other materials to create original wearable pieces, creating both collections and taking commissions from clients. We visited Liz at her home and studio in Brunswick, Melbourne.

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You’re a mother, a maker and a small business owner, what is the biggest challenge and biggest joy of this unique path?
The biggest challenge is time and lack of it! The past few years have been a super busy time with two very active little boys. But I really love making jewellery, so although finding the time is difficult, it is greatly rewarding and its brings me so much joy to see my designs out and about being loved and worn. I feel very lucky that I have found something I enjoy so much and that I can work from home around being a mum.

Can you talk us through an average day?
I’m usually up early for a run around Princes Park, then back home to the mad house. The boys and I will then head out to the park or the Melbourne Zoo with friends in the morning. We’ll be home for lunch, and after that I can normally squeeze in about an hour at the bench while little people are resting. At the moment the afternoon is usually spent talking about dinosaurs, building snake cities or playing hide and seek. The boys are fed, bathed and in bed by 7pm, which is when my husband and I will sit down for dinner. Then I head back to my jewellery bench or get on the computer, before heading to bed around 10pm.

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How did you come into this line of work?
I have always been obsessed with fashion, and jewellery in particular. As a child I used to spend hours crafting up a storm. I studied graphic design at university and started working at an advertising agency but my heart wasn’t in it, and I was always keeping my eye out for jobs in the fashion industry. I worked for a few years as a textile designer for a fashion wholesaler, and then got a job working as a jewellery designer for an iconic Australian accessories company which was really a dream job for me. I learnt so much there! At that point I decided to follow a long-time dream of mine and enrolled in a gold and silver smithing course. I finished my study just prior to the birth of my first son and since then have been working from home designing and making my own small ranges.

Where do you find yourself working of a daily basis?
I love my little corner of the house and if I’m not at the bench, I’m set up at the kitchen table with the computer and a cup of tea.

When are you most productive?
I’m sure this is true for all mums of young children, but I never knew how much I could get done in an hour until I had babies! In the middle of the day when the boys are resting I am super productive.

Can you reflect on particular habits in the daily way you dress?
I’m all about the accessories, bright colours and bold prints. I have always gravitated to simple silhouettes. Motherhood has had a big impact on my wardrobe, and practicality now plays a far bigger role in my outfit choices. But I still like trying new things and having a bit of fun with my outfits.

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How do you usually buy your clothes?
These days my biggest exposure to clothes is online. If something catches my eye I will investigate, do a bit of research online. I really love to try things on so I will track down a stockist to see how the garment looks on my body shape. When purchasing I’m terribly indecisive, but what gets me over the line is normally a unique detail or a really special print, ease of wear and comfort.

Do you have any sartorial memories that have stayed with you?
As a kid I remember visiting my grandmother’s house and going through her beautiful Chinese antique jewellery box, trying on and inspecting every item carefully. That jewellery box, along with some of its original contents, is amongst my most treasured possessions.

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What insights would you share with other women?
Being a mum and trying to run a business is hard work! Cut yourself a break, there is plenty of time to expand and grow, so be realistic with what you aim to achieve.

Do you have a favourite ritual to facilitate rest?
No, but I think I need to get one of those!

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Liz wears pieces from our October Monthly Edition which are currently available to order. View and try on samples at Milly Sleeping in Carlton, or contact us and we'll send you out a custom Chorus measuring tape so you can measure yourself and have your piece made to fit you perfectly. 

Photographs by Rob Bain Photogrphy


September 2016 - Robyn Healy September 20 2016

The life of contemporary women is complex, multifaceted, sometimes challenging, sometimes overwhelming yet also brimming with opportunity. We ask some of our most treasured Chorus clients to share insights into how they juggle professional, personal and sartorial life.

This month we feature Professor Robyn Healy, fashion curator and Head of the School of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT University. We met Robyn in the inspiring studios of the Bachelor of Fashion Design (Honours) as she tried on our September Edition and shared with us her thoughts on dress and dressing. 

What inspires the way you dress each morning?
How I feel – I choose clothes that inspire joy, for others and for myself. I like the idea of creating a visual landscape through dress, and how clothes become part of a shared environment­ – this influences how others experience my clothes and me within them.

When do you find you are most productive? 
I find early morning and very late at night are times of productivity. I like silence, and when everyone is asleep in my house. This is a time when in another part of the world, everyone is waking up.  

How have you collected and curated the garments in your wardrobe?
My clothes come from everywhere: relatives, friends, second-hand stores, strangers, auction houses and designer boutiques, and often directly from the designer. I have an eclectic collection from various designers and eras; some I wear and others I own simply to look at and play with. Some favourite pieces include: my mother’s 1950’s olive green suede driving coat, a nineteenth-century Charles Worth couture gown (purchased at Sotheby’s New York), the remnants of a Parisian 1920’s beaded flapper dress, a Jun Takahashi Undercover ‘earring’ purse, my PAM navy blue quilted jacket and skirt, a Dolci & Kabana numbered edition T-shirt, my infamous silver Acne ‘emoji’ shoes and of course, my CHORUS pieces – six items and counting. I also collect the swing tags, original packaging and ephemera for all my clothes; I am fascinated by this kind of minutiae of fashion, like wrapping ribbons, tissue paper, and so forth.

Are there style archetypes that you admire?
I like to play the role of the ‘jester’ in my dress, I sometimes imagine myself as a professional joker at a medieval court. I’m attracted to the sense of performance in dressing – the dynamic between appearance and actions. A jester’s clothing was loose-fitting and sporty, to enable them to move and leap easily, but also highly performative. I take a motley approach in curating my outfits, I like this idea of the jester’s clothing partitioned or patched into vibrant colours and patterns, trimmed with bells – music to announce their arrival.

Can you observe changes in the way you dress over the course of your career?
No, unfortunately I dress the same as when I did in my twenties! My dressing style has barely matured; I am still drawn to pattern, beautiful colours, exaggerated silhouettes, fabrics that glisten or feel wonderful, T-shirts that are loud, and shoes, particularly sneakers, that I can run in.

You have been a long time supporter of Chorus (thank you) what is your most worn piece and why?
I wear the red ‘customer coat’ all the time. It has an empowering effect, it wraps me up and cocoons my body and soul. I don’t have many red items in my wardrobe so it is always an EVENT for me when I wear this.

What insights would you share with other women?
It is about time we took over the world!

 


August 2016 - Laura Gardner August 22 2016

The life of contemporary women is complex, multifaceted, sometimes challenging, sometimes overwhelming yet also brimming with opportunity. We ask some of our most treasured Chorus clients to share insights into how they juggle professional and personal life.

In our August 'Insight' we speak to Laura Gardner, Phd student, freelancer and Online Editor for the journal Vestoj, as we visit her at home in Brunswick, Melbourne. 

Would you describe your line of work as conventional?
Maybe not! I always find it difficult to convey my work to others in conversations – not because it is particularly unorthodox, but because I feel like I am always doing a few things at once. I have the luxurious day-to-day flexibility of being a PhD student and a freelancer, which means I can usually work anywhere. Research is a very particular way of working, and practice-based research (which is what I do) can mean that I could be deep in post-structural theory one day, or working on projects another – most of this occurs via a laptop.
I also work freelance on editing projects in art and fashion publishing, and on an ongoing basis in my role as Online Editor for the journal Vestoj. Adding to this, I work for the RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles. So it’s a mix of different work and research but all of which seems to compliment each other entirely and which I really enjoy, but makes for an unconventional weekly schedule.

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What do you write on your business card?
It really depends on who I am giving my imaginary business card to. I don’t actually have a business card but on my website I describe myself as an ‘editor’. When I finally reach business card-status maybe I could have a few different types? I think the role of ‘editor’ feels most comfortable, but I will also offer ‘PhD researcher’, sometimes I will tell people I’m a ‘writer’ – or the more ambiguous, ‘freelancer’. I often find I stumble when asked about my PhD, it is not always easy to describe one’s topic to new audiences – I’m still working on the perfect line to deliver in small talk about all of this.

When are you most productive? 
I’m trying to be less of a night owl and keep to corporate hours, but I can’t really pinpoint a particular hour of day as opening a magic door to productivity: perhaps it’s more a question of where am I most productive. I think the work environment is important if I’m doing something where I have to concentrate – like writing – for an extended period of time.

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What is important to for a work-conducive space?
I’m easily distracted, so I find it needs to be a serious environment in order for me to be productive, I usually work from my office in the RMIT Design Hub, occasionally from home, and time to time in libraries or cafes. Most of my work is through my laptop, but I like to feel grounded in the workplace, with all my books and references around me, and access to endless cups of tea.

How does the way you dress factor into your daily work routine?
I’d say it is very important. Not only because I studied, work and write about fashion, but I think it’s a vastly important and personal part of my day. I guess there are a few things that an outfit needs to do: at the moment it has to be warm! And I usually ride to work so it has to have ease of movement and comfort, and then, of course, it needs to look nice, take you from day to night, street to office, etc.

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How have you collected the garments in your wardrobe?
In many different ways, some I have bought new in stores or online from labels I like, some are hand-me-downs. I am often gathering clothes from eBay or op shops – I like it when clothes are ambiguous or unbranded, like you can’t tell where or from what label they’re from but might have an interesting shape or detail.

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What is a luxury garment to you?
It’s something in the make and the quality of the material – luxury high fashion is grounded on detail, texture and finishing that gives an aura of luxury, this I love. Branding embeds another layer of luxury, or desirability, on a garment; but I believe in a luxurious button closure, or a seaming finish, or fabric. Very particular and considered sartorial details, but it is also the act of noticing it, as a wearer that makes it luxurious. For example, these Chorus pants, which are made in a viscose knit that gives them a really beautiful, but somewhat unexpected weight that I notice when I wear. For me that is luxury, a kind of unexpected but considered experience of a garment.

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Do you have any sartorial memories that have stayed with you?
I seem to have really strong memories of my clothing at primary school – I really experimented with my clothes at this age, much more than I do as an adult! I remember a lot of my looks from back then really strongly. There was a particular outfit I wore on the first day back to school after summer holidays: I think it was year two or three. I returned in head to toe denim, with overalls and a matching denim jacket, and accessorised with John Lennon sunglasses, it was so great!

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What insights would you share with other women?
I’m not sure I am ready to answer this! Maybe ask me in a few years? I remember hearing some advice lately from a lecture and I have thought about it more since, that is: in work and in life the most effective and best approach is to be nice: people always like nice people.

Laura wears the Unpinned Dress and Unpinned Pants from our August Monthly Edition

 


July 2016 - Alana Kushnir July 18 2016

The life of contemporary women is complex, multifaceted, sometimes challenging, sometimes overwhelming yet also brimming with opportunity. We ask some of our most treasured Chorus clients to share insights into how they juggle professional and personal life.

In our first 'Insight' we speak to Alana Kushnir, Director and Founder of the Art Law Agency, Curator, University Lecturer, Mother and former Cultural Program Executive at Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) as we visit her at home in Prahran, Melbourne. 

What are your many hats and how did you come to wear them?
I’m a freelance curator and lawyer, and have recently founded Art Law Agency, an art law firm and curatorial initiative. Although the law and creativity can seem poles apart from one another, I think that my legal skills benefit from my curatorial skills, and vice versa. When you dig a little deeper, the methods and tools which the law offers can actually enable creativity to flourish in compelling and unexpected ways. Wearing many hats at once is part of my nature and I can’t imagine being any other way. At some points in the past I tried to just focus on being a lawyer, or on just being a curator, but ultimately I think I am a better lawyer and a better curator when I am focus on wearing both hats at the same time.

Another role which I currently have and which goes hand in hand with my practice is sessional lecturing in the School of Culture and Communications at The University of Melbourne, where I teach subjects like Arts Law, Curating Contemporary Art and Exhibition Management to Masters of Art Curatorship and Arts Management students. I think I’m a bit of a knowledge nerd in that what I love about teaching is that I get to be a student again too – there are no limits to how much you can learn, relearn and unlearn from others.

I’ve also recently become a mother and now have a 1 year old boy, Leonardo (Leo for short). In some ways this is by far my most challenging role as no day is ever the same (nor should it be). There’s no way of explaining or reasoning him to sleep if I have a looming deadline, so efficient time management has become an essential skill to have. He has an amazing attention to detail and loves to observe the world going by – it melts my heart that these qualities are such an innate part of who he is. It would make it all worthwhile for me if Leo were to one day admire what I have achieved – personally, professionally and in-between.

What is the biggest challenge and biggest joy of this unique path?
In a way it’s actually one and the same – I’ve never been able to completely switch off from working, thinking, analysing and planning. I do think that I am innately wired to be this way, but it’s certainly a drive that is spurred on by working on projects and matters that I find genuinely interesting and intellectual stimulating.

Where is your working space and how do you feel this affects your work?
Wherever my laptop is. I don’t need to be in a fixed physical space to be productive. If I don’t have to be anywhere else, then I’ll usually opt for my dining table at home. It’s where I can wear my many hats simultaneously and don’t feel pressured into wearing just one hat at a time.   

When are you most productive? 
When I am working on several projects and matters at the one time, my thought processes spill over from one task to another. For example, at the moment I am preparing to teach some classes on the multi-faceted role of the contemporary curator, writing an article for an art gallery publication about curatorial collectives and corporate structures and preparing a piece of legal advice on copyright co-ownership of a creative project.        

Do you have a favourite ritual to facilitate rest?
I find keeping up with celebrity culture to be a very soothing activity. I very easily slip into a zombie like trance when watching the Kardashians and reading articles on online lowbrow news sites. I haven’t quite worked out why I’m able to get into such a relaxed state in these moments, but I suspect/hope it’s because it makes me feel really content with everything I have in my life and who I am!

What part of your day/week do you most cherish and why?
No day or week is really the same for me, but I grew up in a family of foodies and we love to go out for brunch and lunch on the weekends.

What is the biggest insight you can offer other women?
Don’t expect success to be handed to you on a platter, it takes courage, resilience, organisation, and plenty of hard work. 

Alana is wearing the Saigon Shirt and Skirt from our July Monthly Edition.

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Alana Kushnir  - Art Law Agency 
Photographer - Sarah Pannell
Artwork displayed on wall - Ry David Bradley, Each Copy May Perish Individually 1 & 2 (L-R), 2014