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BigLaw firm showcases First Nations artists

The creative talents of emerging South Sudanese and First Nations artists have been showcased in Lander & Rogers’ Gallery Project 35.

user iconLauren Croft 04 January 2023 Big Law
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In a project that first began late last year, Lander & Rogers will continue to house a series of 35 exhibitions showcasing the work of South Sudanese and First Nations artists, in a move that seeks to address the barriers South Sudanese and First Nations artists face in breaking into or sustaining a career in the creative industries.

Lander & Rogers has opened its doors to Gallery Project 35 ─ an initiative that invites artists to showcase their work in Lander & Rogers’ gallery space on the 15th floor of its Melbourne office. Selected artists practising in various disciplines will exhibit their work under the guidance of a curator, with all proceeds for items sold going directly to the artist.

The project provides a platform for emerging and established artists to show their work, but the heart of the project aims to recognise the barriers and biases experienced by many South Sudanese and First Nations artists breaking into or sustaining a career in the creative industries.


The first exhibition opened in September last year and featured the works of Nanchok Santino Chol, an emerging South Sudanese curator, artist and writer from Melbourne’s west.

Titled She Will, the exhibition comprised a series of photographs of South Sudanese women who have contributed to the growth of their community in the western metropolitan region of Victoria. Ms Chol was inspired to provide a space for the photographed women to share their stories of navigating life in Australia as refugees and in so doing, to amplify their unique identities, culture and wisdom.

At first, Ms Chol said she was surprised to be approached by a law firm to exhibit her work, having never been in a “space like this before.”

“I asked myself, ‘Do I really belong here?’ But being part of this made me realise that yes, I do belong,” she said.

“To me, this project is about breaking down walls and breaking into places artists like myself didn't think they could break into. Art and authenticity will always resonate regardless of someone’s culture, background or experience. Ultimately, Gallery Project 35 is about opening the door of opportunity. Lander & Rogers is a law firm, but it is also part of a community. It serves the community and it is a community.”

Lander & Rogers’ pro bono, community and environment partner, Joanna Renkin, said that the project will help advance the artists’ careers.

“We are excited to provide an opportunity for emerging South Sudanese and First Nations artists to showcase their work to a new audience,” she said.

“We recognise that our privileged position as lawyers and professionals enables us to take action to create initiatives like Gallery Project 35 and we hope to connect with and empower young artists with knowledge and experience that will further their careers.”

Lander & Rogers also established the South Sudanese Business Response (SSBR) in 2018. The SSBR was a response to the discrimination and social disengagement felt by many South Sudanese young people and their challenges in finding pathways to employment.

Sobur Dhieu, dedicated project officer for the SSBR, gave a keynote speech at the project’s launch and said that “this exhibition and the project itself aim to provide a platform for the talents and voices of artists from Indigenous or South Sudanese backgrounds.”

“It is an opportunity to bridge gaps, to teach and to learn together through the medium of creativity,” she said.

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