MILK BAR exhibition at Benalla Art Gallery

Published on 22 December 2017

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The Benalla Art Gallery will host the acclaimed exhibition ‘MILK BAR’ by artist Callum Preston to coincide with the 2018 Wall to Wall Festival.

The exhibition pays homage to the suburban milk bar, which was a symbol of freedom and trust for generations of children becoming teens who had been granted the freedom to ride, skate or walk alone to the local destination.

The exhibition is a life-sized, 360 degree experience, a lovingly hand-painted recreation of a suburban milk bar, featuring almost 500 individual pieces of stock, signage and replica shopfront all hand created by Preston.

Stepping into the show evokes the memories of that Australian childhood. Memories of buzzing neon, faded posters of Diet Coke-loving windsurfers and girls draped on motorcycles, musk sticks, jelly snakes, cigarette ads, the ubiquitous smell of pies and the enticing crack of opening soft drink cans.

With these golden years now a distant memory, the Melbourne-based artist, sculptor and illustrator has recreated his own childhood milk bar, completely by hand — one chip packet and Coke can at a time.

“We are delighted to be presenting Callum Preston’s MILK BAR at Benalla Art Gallery, said Gallery Director Bryony Nainby.

“This installation is a monumental artistic achievement celebrating the milk bars which have now almost disappeared from the suburban landscape.

“It provides an immersive experience into an earlier time and will surprise and delight visitors”, Ms Nainby said.

Artist Callum Preston says the Milk Bar is a lo-fi recreation experience plumbed from the depths of memory and feeling.

“This is more than just a nod to nostalgia,” Mr Preston said. “The project seeks to capture the magic of a long lost time — invoking a sense of childlike wonder in all who view it.

“For most of us, these simpler times might have passed. Sure, the memories may be a little blurry now, but it’s my hope that when all the elements are recreated you can be transported right back to when “going down the shop” was an experience of pure joy.”

The exhibition is presented in partnership with the SANDREW art collection.

The MILK BAR exhibition will coincide with Benalla's 2018 Wall to Wall Festival 2018 and will run from 10 March to 8 April, 2018.