Art lawyer, curator and consultant Alana Kushnir explores the past, present and future of the art world around the clock.
Apr 12, 2022 1:49am
WHAT APPEALED TO YOU ABOUT YOUR HOME?
From the street, it’s a fairly unassuming 1920s Californian bungalow. When you enter, however, a floor-to-ceiling glass window looks out onto a generous north-facing garden with a pool and assortment of fruit trees – orange, mandarin, apple, apricot.
The property was once owned by a builder who used high-quality materials in the extension and unusually wide Sydney blue gum timber floors. When we bought the house in 2020, we inherited some chickens and a bunny rabbit!
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE INTERIOR?
It’s very tranquil. There’s lots of natural light thanks to the 21 bifold doors running the entire length of the rear area. It’s so quiet I can hear the birds chirping away in the trees. Sometimes it feels like I could be out on a farm in the middle of nowhere.
The personality of the house comes from the art, furniture and our family. I’m not a ‘beige’ person and love being surrounded by vibrant colours and textures.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT LIVING HERE?
I grew up in the area so I have fond memories of riding to the milk bar and playing at the local park. Never in a million years did I think we would move to such a suburban area. We feel settled and content to live here for many years.
It’s also a great house for entertaining, which we are yet to take full advantage of. I reckon we could throw some killer parties, for adults and kids alike.
DO YOU HAVE A WORK-FROM-HOME SET-UP?
My businesses began in 2014 on a kitchen table, and until last year I had never had a dedicated office space. It’s the ultimate luxury and has the most romantic outlook through original leadlight windows onto green vines. There’s ornate Art Deco-style ceiling details and a fireplace.
I spent a long time looking for my desk – the criteria was “large and practical, with a bit of flair”. The ‘Burin’ table by Patricia Urquiola is perfect. However, I prefer meeting clients in their studios, galleries or over lunch (to be frank, I’d rather spend the money saved on better resourcing).
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR ART COLLECTION?
It’s grown over time. I haven’t set out to fill every blank wall. We buy works where we feel a connection to the artist, their motivations, preoccupations and the way they execute their ideas. At the same time, with my training in art history and curating, our decisions are partly informed by research.
However, I can also be quite spontaneous and I love taking a chance. No medium is off-limits. Recently, I bought a series of NFTs (non-fungible tokens) by artist Refik Anadol that come with corresponding prints.
Last year I bought a hanging sculpture by the artist Sarah Contos made from vintage leather jackets sewn together, which she bought at a flea market in France for about one dollar each. It looks like a voluptuous bat or, some might say, a particular female body part. I say, make of it what you wish.
WHAT’S YOUR NEXT PURCHASE?
I have commissioned Berlin-based artist Rachel de Joode to create a sculpture for the entry vista. It’s a high-resolution print in her digital paint style on thin aluminium and is being fabricated in Australia.
From the front (or the back) it will look 3D, but from the side it will look almost flat. It’s like a reclining Henry Moore, but for the 21st century. It’s being produced here and I’ve enjoyed the process. The ins and outs of unusual types of commissions are second nature to me, as I provide a lot of legal advice on public art commission projects in Australia.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO?
I’m on the board of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), which is a real engine room for cutting-edge contemporary art. We have some incredible exhibitions planned this year.
With my legal and advisory work, I’m diving deeper into the world of art and new technologies, such as AR (augmented reality), AI (artificial intelligence) and blockchain/NFTs. The Guest Club – the art advisory membership I started in 2019 – is continuing to grow and I’m passionate about supporting that community on their art journey.
IF YOU DIDN’T LIVE HERE, WHERE ELSE WOULD YOU LIVE?
I’ve always been Venice-obsessed. After I got married, we moved to London and had an extended stay in Venice, where I interned at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. You may have wanted a more realistic answer – but I can always dream, right?