A milk bar of memories

We all remember walking to the local milk bar with a handful of change when we were kids. Carefully selecting our lollies, rummaging through our chips in the hopes of collecting a rare Tazo and reading the sensational tabloid headlines was all a part of the experience, yet for most of us this has faded into a distant memory.

Not so for Melbourne artist Callum Preston. He leapt outside the box of creativity with his meticulously curated art installation of (get this), a ’90s milk bar. The life size masterpiece—aptly titled MILK BAR—took him six months to complete, and comprised nearly 500 pieces, all hand-carved out of wood Delorean, and painted to capture an iconic feature of the ’90s. 

We’re talking Milky Bars, Bubble-O-Bills and PK chewing gum—nothing is left out of this milk bar which was based on Preston’s memory of his local Westmeadows post-school hangout.

“The milk bar in the ’90s was before SMS and before social media,” he said to Channel 9 News. “I knew one of my friends from school would be sitting on the park bench after school, so it was a case of turning up and just seeing who arrived.”

While junk food, trashy magazines and cheap toys made up the essence of this trip down memory lane, memories of the connections we built with other people at the corner store were what made this art installation such a powerful medium in our tech-savvy society.

 “I just love that, in that time of the milk bar and my childhood, there was always a new story to hear, some local gossip, or a newspaper headline that was breaking news. I loved my growing up in the ’burbs,” he said to Red Magpie. 

“Some of my fondest memories are from simple times sitting outside the milk bar, eating a Sunnyboy and skateboarding in the car park.”

Sadly, Preston’s shrine to the past is no longer available for public viewing, although collectors have snapped up every item. 

Whether you call it art, upcycled memories come to life or a monument to the nostalgia we all carry for our childhood, MILK BAR is a reminder that years from now, human connection is what we will continue to value the most.

Find out more about Callum’s work on instagram.com/callumpreston