Work Experience Life at Omnibus Theatre

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We asked the lovely Leah to tell us about what it’s like to do Work Experience at Omnibus Theatre…

My name is Leah and I’ve been doing work experience at Omnibus Theatre for a week. I currently go to Lambeth Academy. Omnibus Theatre has been a very inviting place which has opened up my eyes as to what I want to do in the future. It is located in Clapham Common, where the old library used to be. When people say never judge a book by its cover, take notes! I first judged the whole idea of working in a theatre that was originally a library. In my first opinions I thought it was going to be completely undeveloped with books scattered everywhere- waiting to be replaced but I was completely wrong. Omnibus Theatre is a warm, welcoming place with staff that are caring despite not knowing who you are. I even thought I would be treated differently due to the fact I’m a secondary school student, again… I was wrong. I recommend visiting Omnibus Theatre.

On my first day I had to research ‘Michael Faraday’, a British chemist and physicist scientist. My first impression was “Great. Learning.” Obviously sarcastic. Yet again, I was proven wrong because those facts made me really question “If Michael Faraday never existed, would the modern technology I use today even exist?” I went home that Monday questioning my brother and obviously he knew nothing about the scientist, which made me seem extremely smart. I can’t wait to go back to school and question the science teachers. However, I really wish this work experience didn’t have to come to an end.

On my second day I was helping the most amazing catering person ever, Sally! Sally gave me an insight as to what a cafe/bar looks like when it first opens up; honestly it was a completely new experience for me. Even the washing up was new for me. I was delighted to work beside someone as hard-working as Sally and it really did make me feel more welcomed with the Omnibus Theatre.

On day three, I was continuing with the work I did on Monday. Again researching but the more I researched the more interesting facts I discovered. Did you know Michael Faraday was inspired by the book ‘Conversations of Chemistry’? I was even part of the Omnibus Theatre meeting. To know what everyone’s role is, gave me an idea as to what kind of role I may enjoy. What made the theatre more welcoming is the cats that seem to stroll pass me every now and then, during our meeting- they even took part to share what they’ve been up to.

Overall, I really enjoyed working at the Omnibus Theatre and my 5 top tips for anybody considering having work experience is:

1. Use the dishwasher when it comes to washing up!
2. When there’s work, set yourself a time you determine to finish at.
3. The quicker you finish, the quicker lunch arrives.
4. Don’t just research basic facts, find the juicy ones!
5. Ask questions, because the more information you know from what you need to do will benefit massively.

Interning at Omnibus

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Caroline talks about her experience as an Omnibus intern…

My name is Caroline and I’ve been an intern at Omnibus Theatre for the last nine weeks. I’m currently enrolled at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama doing a Masters Program in Creative Producing and as part of our studies, we were encouraged to do a placement in a theatre. When looking into placement opportunities, I decided to try working at a small venue where I could learn real hands-on skills and get the most out of my relatively short internship. And, indeed, Omnibus has been quite hands-on.

On my very first day, while producer Juliet Clark was telling me about the current projects, she suddenly said: “Oh and by the way, we have an opportunity come up to program a Short Film night for our LGBT+ festival Unnatural Acts. It’s happening in three weeks time. Do you want to take charge of that?”

My first reaction was: What? Shouldn’t I be making tea?

Obviously I said yes.

Being in charge of an evening, however small it might have been, was really exciting and taught me more about producing than any handbook could have. I had autonomy to choose the artists involved, organise the evening, write the deal sheets, prepare the tech, host the night…. Not many venues have the ability to give their interns real responsibilities like that. Of course, this sometimes felt overwhelming, but I was always able to ask for help and the evening turned out to be a great success.

So, what do interns do at Omnibus?

Every intern is attached to one or two specific projects. Over your time here you might start by supporting the marketing campaign of a show, researching its audiences, and eventually drafting contracts for the actors involved. The beauty of this is that you see the development of a production and you become part of its journey. This enables you to take on more complex tasks, as you can see the connections and have an understanding of the subject itself.

A big part of my time here at Omnibus was assisting our marketing department. I would draft tweets, take Instagram pictures, even come up with marketing campaigns myself. There is something very empowering about seeing your ideas come to life. I remember how proud I felt when I saw one of my tweets online.

Of course, not all the tasks you do here sound exciting to begin with. As every intern in the world knows, there is printing to be done, flyers to be sorted, or errands to be run. However, the people here always understood that these tasks are just as vital and the amount of appreciation I have received here has been very refreshing.

There is a reason why the Omnibus is able to take on so many interns: they know what it means to be one. Many of the people working here started off as interns and there’s a real sense of commitment in them. For instance, Rhian (Creative Learning Producer) checked in with me every other week to make sure I was still hitting my learning goals. And if I wanted to learn something specific, I would always be able to ask for a related task.

Being an intern at Omnibus has been an incredible experience. I have developed as a producer and grown more self-confident in my abilities. Overall, if I had to pick one thing that has stood out the most from my time here, it’s the people. It’s surprising how heartwarming, hard working, kind and full of laughter everyone here is. As interns, we are a vital part of this organization and after nine weeks I really feel as if I have become part of this team. I can only encourage everyone to come and visit this vibrant place.

My top 10 tips for getting the most out of your time at Omnibus?

1. Be proactive. Be curious.

2. Ask. No one can help you if you don’t say you need help.

3. Do you want to learn something specific? Ask. Tell someone about it and ask for a related task.

4. Be brave. Ask to learn things that you cannot do yet.

5. Don’t look down on ‘boring tasks’ – They are just as vital.

6. Don’t be shy to ask for advice, guidance or training. You’re here to learn, not to perform.

7. Go and watch stuff at the place you work! Why wouldn’t you?

8. Socialise with the people you work with. You might end up with vital industry connections. Or even better, friends.

9. Keep a journal of your internship and reflect – you’ll be surprised how quickly the time passes

10. An Internship will always only be as wonderful as you make it. So make the best out of it.

Intern photo

Some of our lovely Spring interns! (from left to right) Maddy, Lucinda, Caroline, Rachel, Pasche and Olivia

 

 

Five Minutes with Grace Smart (Designer, Spring Offensive)

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We caught up with Grace Smart, designer of upcoming show Spring Offensive, to discuss her work.

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Grace Smart studied Theatre Performance Design at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts and graduated in 2014. The following year she won the Linbury Prize for Theatre Design for her work on Saint Joan at The Lyric Belfast. Her recent design credits include Wonderland (UK Tour); Here Lies the Remains of Mercy (Theatre Delicatessen, Sheffield); Shopping & F***ing at the Lyric Hammersmith and Bar Mitzvah Boy at the Gatehouse (all 2016), In 2017, East Is East for The Northern Stage, Nottingham Playhouse and Blasted at Styx, London.

Why Spring Offensive and why now?

Spring Offensive is a play about identity, especially national identity. I think the themes on patriotism are fascinating – how quickly does being proud of ones country become a disdain for others? How willing are people to shoot themselves in the foot to defend their country? What does it mean to cling so tightly to a sense of ‘Britishness’? These questions are obviously hugely resonant right now.

What is your favourite play?

My favourite play is A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams – in fact I’m a big fan of all his work. I recently have also become obsessed with Red by John Logan, it’s about the work of Rothko, and the relationship between the world and artists.

What has been your favourite design job to date and why?

That’s a toughie! So far it probably has to be St Joan for the Lyric Belfast, it was incredible designing a play written during the Easter rising, using such a remarkable female historical figure, in the country George Bernard Shaw lived in. Of course, a close second was doing Shopping and F***ing at the Lyric Hammersmith. Partly because it was such a radical retelling, and partly because it’s a fine play title to tell people you’re working on over and over.

What is the biggest challenge with designing Spring Offensive?

The biggest challenge is building the atmosphere of the room with out building the room. In an ideal world in my mind, we would have one audience member only, every single night. And that audience member would be forced to sit at the table with them, eat the stew, etc etc. I want the whole audience to feel like they’re in the room, that they can’t get out, and that they might have to stay the night too…

Spring Offensive will run from 18-30 April, book your tickets here

See more of Grace’s work on her website

 

A Q & A with…Deborah Manson

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March’s exhibition at Omnibus is Deborah Manson’s ‘A Labour of Love’. Inspired by her daughters’ personalities, Deborah Manson creates intricate and colourful heritage quilts.

 

What inspired you to start creating quilts?

I make paper collages with painted and found paper, selecting and placing colour and shapes together to create abstract compositions. I experimented with the process of placing and stitching hand dyed cloth together in a similar way to my collages.

Through my research I discovered the quilts and quilt makers of the Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Their quilts are layered with personal and social history which inspired me to make the ‘Eva’ and ‘Islay’ quilts.

How did you choose the materials?

I like to work with natural fabrics such as organic linen which I hand dyed in colours which I felt reflected elements of each of my daughter’s personalities. I also included pieces of their favourite outgrown clothing. Each piece of clothing holds personal meaning and my daughters were involved in the selection of the clothes that were to be included. I also included some second hand fabrics, such as the green silk which backs the ‘Eva’ quilt.

How involved were your daughters in the process?

They were very involved, right from the beginning stages. I see the quilts as a mother daughter collaboration. They made large scale paintings and collages with abstract shapes which they felt represented their very individual characters. I based the designs of the quilts loosely on their work. They had a lot of fun doing huge wall collages from cut out paper and dying the yellow fabrics with Weld. They were also involved in the quilting. There are parts in each quilt which they dyed, appliqued and quilted.

What was your initial goal when you started this project? Has that changed as the process has evolved?

I suppose my initial goal was to make sustainable textiles. I started this project coming from a printed textiles background and wanting to develop that. Through my research into historical British and American quilts, emotional sustainability and materials the project changed to become something much more personal.

What have you learnt during this experience?

It’s made me much much more aware of the connections between people’s stories and materiality; leading me to conclude that people and objects and in the case of this research, handmade quilts are inextricably connected through life histories, stories of hand making, cultural practices, memories and emotional bonds and that these important connections can help makers and designers to reassess the value of the things we make.

What projects will you be working on next?

I am researching materials at the moment and have been experimenting further with natural dye. I have set up a dye and print workshop in a local school where I am currently an artist in residence. This research will lead into some new design work and a new collection of handmade textile pieces, possibly including more quilts.

Our Actors Alive trip to The Globe

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Our Actors Alive Jack Petchey Winner Lara tells us all about her recent trip to the Globe

Hi! My name is Lara, and I was the winner of the 2016 Jack Petchey award. If you win the award, your drama group gets some money, and the winner gets to decide what to spend it on. I chose to spend it on a behind the scenes trip to the Globe Theatre and this is what we did there.

Our tour guide was the Technical Director of the theatre. We first went up to “heaven” which is a space above the stage, with a trap door which many actors have been lowered through. After that we went down to an area where some props were being stored and entered a huge lift that took us down to the stage. We went up to ‘Juliet’s balcony’ and saw down onto the stage. It was easy to imagine how terrifying it would be to perform there! We went on to the stage and delivered some famous lines from Shakespeare.

Globe Benches

The scariest thing we did was go down to ‘Hell’, which is the space underneath the stage. It was extremely cramped and claustrophobic, but seeing the trapdoor and sticking our heads out was probably the highlight of the trip. Next, we went to see the costume and prop stores. They were both piled high with strange items, some costing hundreds of pounds! We were allowed to try on some hats and see how we looked, and also got to pick up two different swords. They were extremely heavy and luckily not sharp, but our tour guide said that if you sharpened the blade, it would be exactly like the kinds of swords they had in the Elizabethan times!

Hat Globe

I really enjoyed the trip to the Globe, and I think everyone else did too. I am definitely very happy with the way I chose to spend the money, and I can’t wait to do our production of Romeo and Juliet this March.

 

 

A Q&A with… Diana Burton

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Omnibus are currently exhibiting work by Diana Burton, an artist who works with a unique material.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My love of Textiles and making in general came from my Mother, who taught me how to knit and stitch. I recently completed an MA in Textiles at Chelsea College of Arts. The course enabled me to get back in touch with making as an artist. It also expanded my knowledge of sustainability and instilled a responsibility to consider how we can place at the centre of our practice, an ethical and moral approach to producing as artists, designers and makers, so that we can make better choices about our consuming

Why did you choose umbrellas as material for your work?

I think umbrellas chose me! An uncanny encounter with a discarded broken umbrella evoked memories of lived experiences.  A deeply personal project emerged and I began to photograph discarded umbrellas where they lay. The urban site is like a graveyard for broken umbrellas. The detritus of material culture in general, can invade our sense of ‘all is well’ and evoke an element of dystopia. For me, discarded umbrellas represent a sense of ‘all is not well’ and are a metaphor for broken bodies and those who are discarded by society.  After photographing the found umbrellas, I collect and re purpose them into hybrid, bio-mechanical sculptural forms that aim to replicate the disturbing initial encounter.

What are the challenges of working with umbrellas?

One challenge is collecting a greater volume of umbrellas so that I can create sculptures on a larger scale. So it needs to rain much more! I enjoy the practical challenges of working with umbrellas. It has become quite a cathartic process, which enables my relationship to umbrellas to shift and evolve. Sometimes they can look foreboding and repulsive evoking trepidation and at times they are a thing of beauty with their enterprising mechanism and sculptural form.

What’s next for you as an artist?

I have just finished an MA and I am hoping for more opportunities to exhibit my work, so I am engrossed in collecting and making. I am also currently preparing a PHD proposal and looking for a position as artist in residence.

A Storyteller’s Experience

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On the last Thursday of every month we meet up and six storytellers share their tales in front of a live audience.

Last month Sudeshna Choudhury told an inspiring and poignant story about the little things that can have huge effects on others and on the world. She felt inspired to write to our hosts – Laurel Lefkow and James Richardson – about her experience on the So, This Is What Happened… stage.

Dear Laurel and James,

Thanks very much to both of you for inviting me and organising such a wonderful event – you are both truly the quiet unsung heroes of the storytelling story!

I absolutely loved my first Omnibus storytelling event! It was a super evening and every one of the amazing storytellers were so different with a different style, yet gave us so much insight into their world and charmed us with their unique stories. There was a whole world covered within the six stories!

The venue and audience were all delightful and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my story and so glad everyone liked it! I loved all the other stories and thought my fellow storytellers were courageous and generous and such fun! And I thank each one of them for making this an evening to remember!

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I hope to see you all soon again and enjoy listening and telling more stories. I really believe proper true storytelling is an endangered species and is only slowly recovering thanks to dedicated storytelling lovers like you.

I think storytelling as an artform is not as appreciated enough, as it should be, considering it to be totally vital in our society to keep us human and connected to ourselves and others, create goodwill and love, and a wonderful source of guidance, insight, wisdom, inspiration and fun!

Think of Thomas’ deep and humorous insights into the fascinating world of law and its ethics which he experienced and battled with, Juliette’s family world of love and connection to the outside world by being less rich and trusting the universe to provide, Frederick’s humorous but very insightful world into humans being neither too bad or too good and guidance for life from unorthodox sources in a world of stag parties, banking and bank robbers, and Yaron’s moving account of his battle to understand and overcome the human condition of depression with wisdom, patience and love that is inspiring in his triumph over it. Mine was of course about the positive domino effect of proactive encouragement and praise to change people’s lives for the better globally or locally from our little corners of our worlds.

Storytelling is also important in how it connects the younger generations to the older ones especially in learning the stories of their families’ history.

Or indeed of the world of the older generations (like in Roddy’s fascinating story of the ordinary people in Estonia during the upheaval of USSR at important historical moments, but which was also about the indefatigable human spirit and hope in difficult times). So storytelling must continue to be encouraged and fresh air blown through the small fire sticks that are our current storytelling efforts till it becomes a big cheerful crackling fire to keep everyone going!

Good luck in all your endeavours and naturally I bless you all for your wonderful storytelling efforts ongoing!

Sudeshna x

Next month’s So, This Is What Happened… is on Thu 24 November.

BOOK TICKETS


Interested in telling your story? Get in touch: enquiries@omnibus-clapham.org

A Perception Fest Q & A with… Artist Femke Fredrix

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Belgian-born Femke Fredrix studied Autonomous Design at KASK Ghent, during which she took part in an exchange program with Jesko Fezers studio, Experimental Design at HFBK Hamburg. Her affecting work focuses on an interdisciplinary mix between video art, textile, performance and sound.

Where are you from?

I am from Belgium, Ghent.

How did you come to be an artist?

Ever since my childhood I have enjoyed the feeling of being surrounded by different forms of creative expression. The desire to create my own artistic work grew naturally upon me through this creative input.

What has inspired you to create this series of work?

E(u)phemeral Map is the first collaboration between Jana Pacheco and myself. The work is strongly inspired by concepts distilled from our conversations about previous work on one hand and the space and context that brought us together on the other. The latter was a one-month artist residency facilitated by Agora Collective in Neukölln Berlin.

Who is your favourite artist and why?

I’m not sure if I really have one. However, I do feel that Bill Viola’s exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, 2014, remains one of the most overwhelming and inspiring experiences I have had with a whole oeuvre of an artist so far.

What would you say to any young people hoping or wishing to create work themselves?

I fear I might have to resort to a cliché for this question but I would simply tell these aspiring creatives to stop hoping or wishing and simply start creating. Moreover, I would stress the importance of starting from a subject or action one is really, really passionate about.


 

Femke’s short film ‘E(u)phemeral Map’ will be on display at Omnibus during Perception Festival: Voyage in October. See the full programme. 

Perception Festival: Voyage

Mon 10 – Sun 16 Oct

#perceptionfest16

More information here

A Q&A with… Jon McCormack, illustrator

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Jon McCormack is an illustrator whose work is currently on display at Omnibus. His black and white prints show a mysterious and mischievous world, high in detail and significance. Find out more about him at jmcillustration.com and instagram.com/jmcillustration

 

Tell us about yourself.

I’m an Irish illustrator who has being living and working in London for the past three years. Originally I studied film and television production before going on to work as a storyboard artist. Then I started to branch out into illustration and worked on an Irish children’s book series called Vroom-Town. I enjoyed working for other people but I found that my style was really generic and nondescript. There wasn’t really any of my personality in the work I was doing so I decided to move to London to do an MA in Illustration at UAL Camberwell. The two years I spent at Camberwell were exactly what I needed. I’ve learned so much, especially from my fellow classmates who are so talented and diverse in their approach to illustration. I’ve only just graduated from the MA so I’ll be returning to Ireland for a short period to begin on some new work.

 What interests you about your chosen art form?

The best thing about illustration nowadays is that it can be found in many places; editorial, comics, picture books, gaming, multimedia, etc. There is a vast spectrum of outlets to showcase your work and the ability to have an online presence makes it easier to connect with others. When I studied film I felt very limited in terms of what I could achieve based on my passion and my skill sets but now I feel that there are many avenues available for me to take.

What are your motivations behind the art you produce?

I like to draw things that are strange and uncanny. I was always into fantasy and such and I enjoy anything that has a world and narrative I can get lost in. Film and animation are a strong influence for me and I especially like to create mood and atmosphere that give you a sense of place. Telling one story has its merits but creating a world where many stories can happen is more interesting to me.

How do you work when creating prints like the ones on display?

Humour is also a very important tool for me to endear my work to others. An absurd image or cartoon often feels more honest to me than other things I do and if it makes me laugh then I’ll put it out there. This can backfire sometimes – you don’t want people laughing for the wrong reasons!

Normally I draw and outline on paper and then scan and assemble on my computer. I used to use Photoshop a lot to create artwork before I did the MA but now I love using all kinds of drawing media and piecing them together digitally. I enjoy mixing the charm of hand drawn imagery with the efficiency of digital software. There are still many processes that I want to explore, such as printmaking, and I feel it’s very important to keep things fresh and moving in that sense.

 Which print that is on display at Omnibus is your favourite and why?

My favourite is the cat with the diamond eyes! It’s based on the Cat Sídhe from Irish mythology, which is sort of a fairy or spectre that takes the form of a black cat and steals the souls of the recently departed. I just like the attitude of it – the eyes and the stance are slightly sinister but also kind of silly. It was exactly how I pictured it in my head so I think that’s why I like it the most.

 What has been the most exciting moment of your artistic career to date?

I suppose being accepted for the MA was the most exciting moment for me as it validated the potential I had to be a working artist. Before I only really considered myself somebody who could competently draw for other people but now I realise there is much more I can offer. Now that it’s over, I’m excited to showcase more confident work and see where it takes me.

 

Pop in and see Jon McCormack’s work on display for the next few weeks!

A Q&A with… Erica Echenberg, Punk Photographer

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Erica Echenberg’s punk photographs are exhibited at Omnibus until Oct 7. They depict a fast moving and fast changing world, populated by familiar faces and interrogative stares.

Which is your favourite picture displayed in the exhibition and why?

One of my favourite pictures in the exhibition is the PUNK POGO shot. It was taken at the Roxy Club (Covent Garden) in 1977, and you can see that most of the audience have moved back to let the kids do their mid air dance. Pogoing became part of the ritual at a punk gig along with spitting (gobbing) and amazing homemade fashion. This picture shows the excitement and innocence of the time and how well the audience behaved. A young Shane MacGowan is the third punk pogoing on the right, in mid air. He later became famous as a member of The Nipple Erectors and then collaborating with Kirsty MacColl.

Do you think this type of photography could be done today?

I do NOT think that this type of photography could be done today. I think that this type of photography was unique to it’s time. There was a youthful innocence during this period that made the pictures more unique and special. It was not ‘selfie’ times when everyone wants their pictures taken and then start to pose for the shots. These were black and white years when a young new musical movement was being invented and tested for the first time and no one knew what was about to happen or what the future held. My equipment was basic and roll film was expensive so I had to try to make each shot count. Then the roll of film had to be developed in my tiny kitchen (which doubled as a darkroom) and printed from an enlarger onto photographic paper and dried on the floor! If I had enough money I would go to Joe’s Basement in Soho to get them developed and make a contact sheet to see the images in a positive format. This all took time and was not immediate as photography is today.

How would you describe the nights at the Roxy?

The nights at the Roxy were short but sweet. Only 100 days. I was lucky enough to be part of the scene and that made it possible for me to take pictures when I wanted and to record this unique time. I never experienced violence or trouble and there was a camaraderie which was very special. We were in a unique small group of kids with similar thoughts, love of music and experiences of good times.

What are they highlights of your photography career?

The highlights of my photography career are too numerous to mention as every time I went out to take photographs, some wonderful event would happen or I would meet interesting characters along the way. Working for Melody Maker, New Musical Express, Sounds, Record Mirror and later Kerrang! were wonderful times as well, as it gave me an platform to show my work and to get invited to amazing places. It was hard times too as the equipment was heavy and venues were far apart so tubes and buses were taken late at night. There were deadlines to be met which was always a challenge. But to be published and have a my name credit was a wonderful feeling when you were young and getting started.

What attracted you to being a photographer?

My father was a great photographer and picture taking was his hobby which he loved. This love of images and visuals he thankfully passed on to me. I went to Art college in Montreal, Canada and was inspired by my photography teacher there who had worked in the music business. I moved to London and started working for Ian Dickson who was a Rock photographer and became his assistant. I made contacts and was asked to take pictures for the magazines and then photography became my work and my life.

What do you miss about the Punk scene? What don’t you miss?

I do miss the innocence and magic of the early punk scene. Those were fast and furious times and I met so many amazing people, many of whom are still around today making music, taking pictures or being artistic. There seemed to be a lot of talent and freedom then and it let us start up bands, publish fanzines and invent fashion and to be who ever you wanted to be. Also women got a look in finally. We were no longer in the background but were now singing up on stage, shooting pictures and creating a special female bond and style.

Find out more: http://punk.london

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