The Milk Bars Are on Me at Metro Gallery

Thu 26th May, 2022 – Sat 18th June, 2022
Metro Gallery
1214 High Street, Armadale
Get ready to be transported back to your childhood. An Aussie artist has turned a Melbourne gallery into a nostalgic milk bar for this new, free exhibition.

Donovan Christie’s alter ego should be “The Milk Bar Kid”. The Adelaide-based artist immortalises fading parts of Australian culture – including snack bars and video-rental shops like Blockbuster and Video Ezy – in his nostalgic, hyperreal paintings.

For his most recent project Christie headed east. Over the course of four years, he travelled back and forth to Melbourne, trawling the city – from the beachside suburb of St Kilda in the south-east to the leafy Heidelberg in the north-east – for milk bars.

And even if you don’t recognise the particular shopfront, Christie’s vivid, evocative paintings will likely unlock childhood memories – of throwing a pocketful of change onto the counter to see how many lollies you can buy, or haphazardly ripping the plastic wrapper off a lemonade Icy Pole on a stinking hot summer day.

Now, you can experience 40 of Christie’s works IRL in Melbourne at a show cleverly titled The Milk Bars Are on Me – a play on the line “the Milkybars are on me!” from Nestle’s iconic Milkybar ads.

He’s turned Metro Gallery in Armadale into a milk bar (of sorts). The front room serves as the “outside”, featuring oil paintings of several milk bar exteriors. Midway through is a vinyl wallpaper of a life-size milk bar frontage, the windows occupied by three-dimensional-seeming works, trompe-l’œil-style, so it feels like you’re peering inside.

In the next room you’ll find still-life oil paintings of iconic milk bar products; think Chiko Rolls, Jolt Cola, Nerds (and other quintessentially Aussie lollies), plus giant Oddbods and Tazos. The hallway at the end focuses on Christie’s interpretation of classic ghost signs – hand-painted ads that have been preserved on a building for a long period of time – for brands like Arnott’s, Rosella and Bushells.

He’s also collaborated with SA brewery Pirate Life on a limited-edition beer inspired by the on-theme pine-lime Splice ice-cream, which will be at the launch on Thursday May 26, from 6pm to 8pm.

More information here.