Callum Preston’s MILK BAR – An Icon of Suburbia

Callum Preston's Milk Bar Icon of SuburbiaCallum Preston is a sucker for nostalgia. In his acclaimed 2015 DIY art tribute show Bootleg to the Future he paid artistic homage to his favourite childhood film, Back to the Future – life-size hand-built DeLorean and all. In his latest solo mission, the multitalented Melbourne creative shares a childhood dream that anyone who grew up in the ‘burbs have their own version of.

For kids growing up in Australia, the local milk bar was more than just a shop – it was a symbol of freedom as a child became a teen. Being given the freedom to ride, skate or walk alone to the local milk bar was a sign of trust from parents and the first step toward being a “grown up.”

For Preston, the milk bar was a meeting place and a cherished after-school ritual in a time before SMS and Instagram – a place where you’d just turn up and see who else arrived.

As a child of the Melbourne suburbs in the 1990s, Preston well remembers his neighbourhood milk bar as a place of wonder: the buzzing neon, the faded posters of Diet Coke-loving windsurfers and girls draped on motorcycles, collector cards, 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, illustrator, and co-founder of trail-blazing creative hub, Everfresh Studios – has turned his efforts to recreating his own childhood milk bar, completely by hand – one chip packet and Coke can at a time.

His latest project, Callum Preston’s MILK BAR, sees him recreating an operational, life-size milk bar, which will be housed inside Collingwood’s RVCA Corner Gallery. Like any milk bar, Preston’s will be filled with the usual suspects – magazines, chocolate bars, soft drinks – but take a closer look, and you’ll see that each one is completely handmade from timber and hand illustrated by the artist himself.

Presented as a 360-degree art show – where every item is for sale – Callum Preston’s MILK BAR will feature over 500 items, with thousands of tiny details all contributing to a truly unique and immersive experience which Preston describes as “a lo-fi recreation plumbed from the depths of memory and feeling.”

More than just a nod to nostalgia, 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,” said Preston. “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.”

Callum Preston’s MILK BAR – Icon of Suburbia
RVCA Corner Gallery, 82 Stanley Street, Collingwood
Exhibition: 2 – 3 / 8 – 10 December 2017 (11.00am – 4.00pm)
Free entry

Image: Callum Preston (supplied)