If you’ve ever dreamed of drinking from Willy Wonka’s chocolate waterfall or licking snozzberry-flavoured wallpaper, your childhood fantasies have come true. Sugar Republic – a nostalgic celebration of candy and colour – opens in Melbourne this weekend.
Housed, appropriately, in Smith Street’s MacRobertson Confectionery Factory –the birthplace of the Freddo Frog and Cherry Ripe – the exhibition contains 14 immersive rooms that pay tribute to retro sweets such as Wizz Fizz and Hubba Bubba. Jump out of giant birthday cake as metallic confetti rains down; climb inside a supersized gumball machine; sink into a swimming-pool-sized pit of pink balls; wander through a forest of giant bananas.
“Watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a child is one of the movies that most impressed on me – I mean I’m from the ’70s,” says Allison Jones, the Melbourne creative behind the pop-up. Jones formerly ran playful homewares store Lark.
She wanted the Melbourne show to be an ever-changing experience where you can leave your grown-up self at the door. Treats and surprises will rotate, and there’s no time limit – you can stay as long as you like.
Sweetening the deal are the free lollies and snacks throughout the factory. In one room you’ll find soft-serve ice-cream, in another, bags of blue and pink fairy floss line the wall.
The warehouse’s wacky fit-out (think kaleidoscopic slinkies cascading from the ceiling) comes courtesy of a variety of local artists and designers: a fluffy installation by Sarah Borg of Bangin Hangins; neon wall art by Electric Confetti; and life-size incarnations of Australian ice-cream legends – Bubble O’ Bill, Golden Gaytime and Paddle Pop – by Make Me Iconic.
Sugar Republic is available for event hire during its Melbourne residency, and there are plans to head to Sydney in spring.
Sugar Republic opens to the public on June 22 and runs for eight weeks at 379 Smith Street, Fitzroy. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for children 16 and under. Children two and under are free.