Donovan Christie: Exclusive Limited-Edition Prints

Following the success of Donovan Christie’s solo exhibitionBluethumb is excited to announce The Milk Bars Are On Me limited-edition prints. Exclusive to Bluethumb, this print drop includes 16 framed Giclée prints in editions of 100. Available from February 28th until sold out. So, be quick and grab these highly-anticipated prints for your home! We caught up with Donovan to discuss the success of his solo exhibition, the inspiration behind his work and the path that led to a career in art.

The man behind the milk bars: Donovan Christie.

Donovan is a self-taught artist whose paintings are hyperrealistic and often mistaken for photographs. Known for his urban landscapes that highlight a nostalgia for times gone by, The Milk Bars Are On Me series continues the dialogue around fading shopfronts. 

The Milk Bars Are On Me exhibition was a great success with almost all the original paintings selling, two of which even sold to one of our nation’s biggest icons,” said Donovan. This limited-edition print series allows collectors to own a piece of Australian nostalgia for their homes. The series features paintings of quintessential Australian Milk Bars, including exterior landscapes, the products found inside, and ghost signs which once brightly clad the sides of shops. Milk & Paper (pictured below) won last year’s Bluethumb Art Prize Still Life Category award. 

Milk & Paper limited-edition print is now available.

Milk & Paper limited-edition print is now available. Grab your own copy of this award-winning piece!

Donovan enjoys connecting with the public via the shared nostalgia depicted in his artworks. “The memories and stories the work evokes can be funny, heart-warming or sad. This is what fuels me. I’m not only documenting these landscapes but immortalising them,” he said. “I like anything that has character and charm, something that a lot of the new builds lack.”

“The elements that appeal to me the most are the eroding vintage enamel signs, the sign-writing on the brickwork, the tacky 70’s, 80’s and 90’s advertising posters and the landscape around the shopfront. I believe the setting is a large component; this creates the energy of the piece and tells a story. For example, the humble Milk Bar attached to a suburban red brick home with galvo fences and greenery peering over. If these walls could talk, they would have generations of tales. For me, these things evoke that nostalgia.”

‘Behind Bars I’ is now available in print!

The Adelaide-based artist has always had an ever-present love of tactile expression and an urge to create. “My mum would help me create handmade gift cards and bookmarks from the age of 4,” he recalls. “I would then go door to door in my neighbourhood selling them for 25c each or 5 for a dollar. This not only sparked the creativity in me but also the hustler’s ambition.

“Fast forward to my teens, where that passion for art was funnelled back into the streets in the form of graffiti. Hip-hop was a big influence in this, I lived and breathed it. After a few run-ins with the law, I chose to channel that passion onto the canvas. I began painting portraits of rap pioneers and the like, then went on to dabble in some pop art and finally landed on urban landscapes, which I continue to paint to this day.”

‘Piggy In The Middle’ is a staple piece of Donovan’s emblematic milk bar series.

At the heart of his practice is an undulating force of passion. “I’m definitely a workaholic when it comes to my art practice, that’s for sure. I don’t feel myself if I’ve been out of the studio for more than a few days. It’s a form of meditation for me.” Inspired by the everyday streetscape, Donovan aims to capture a piece of history that is rapidly vanishing.

“These are snapshots and backdrops that we don’t take notice of in the present, but in a decade or so, we will soon realise how nostalgic this imagery really was. Therefore, this pushes me to attempt to paint and immortalise all these shopfronts and establishments that still have that touch of character and charm,” said Donovan.

'Corner Bouys' was a finalist piece in the 2021 Bluethumb Art Prize. Both the orginal and prints are available to purchase.

‘Corner Bouys’ was a finalist piece in the 2021 Bluethumb Art Prize.

Donovan is a confessed purist when it comes to technique. “I think this comes from being such a perfectionist, I paint the image the way I see it. I take photographs to use as reference and the majority of the time I won’t adjust anything in the picture. The only thing I might do is remove a person or car, leaving it vacant, allowing the shopfront to shine and be the hero of the painting. It also doesn’t date the work through the make and model of the car or the fashion at the time, this allows people of all ages to create their memory and story from their day.”

A picture of a photo or painting? Donovan Christie keeps us guessing at first glance.

A picture of a photo, painting or print? Donovan Christie keeps us guessing at first glance.

Choosing a streetscape that borders on the mundane of Australia’s suburbs allows Donovan Christie’s technique to come to the fore. There’s a tangible influence of fellow Adelaide artists Jeffrey Smart and Richard Maurovic. “[Richard] was initially a neighbour who saw me grow up knocking about over the years,” Donovan said.

“Each of us has a divine love and admiration for what others might find bleak, tired or weathered. Instead, we choose to romanticise these things through shape, colour and composition. The three of us are from three generations, each inspired by the former, viewing the world from a similar lens, decades apart yet, creating similar subjects in different styles.

Who remembers the taste of Dixie cup spoons? Grab your Dixie 91 print by Donovan Christie before they sell out.

“It’s such a bittersweet position I’m in because I love these places that I paint yet it seems as soon as I paint them, within months I hear of them shutting down or being demolished to make way for yet another cookie-cutter building or convenience store,” Donovan reflects as we discuss the decline of the quintessential milk bar across Australia. “It truly is a sign of the times, especially the strain small businesses have faced in recent years. Sadly, I don’t think people will appreciate what we’ve got until it’s gone.”

Complimenting his streetscapes of Australia’s iconic Milk Bars, Donovan’s limited-edition prints include paintings of nostalgic lollies and snack foods.

“During my journey over the years, as I’ve photographed and documented these places, I’ve found through chatting with the owners, that they don’t even know what modern-day relic they have. This is why you are beginning to see what ones are left, are being gentrified and spruced up, leaving them sterile and cold, erasing what once made them the cosy cornerstone of the Australian community.”

A paradigm of his urban landscapes, 'Mellow Yellow' will be available in print.

A paradigm of his urban landscapes, ‘Mellow Yellow’ is available now in print.

Donovan has brushed shoulders with some of Australia’s most prominent artists and has accolades in many major art prizes. His career kicked off in 2014 when he was a finalist in the Waterhouse Prize. He was nominated for the Channel 9 Young Achiever Arts Award in 2015 and won it the following year. His other notable awards include Lethbridge 10000, The Kennedy, and BSG Small Scale Prize.

Don’t miss out on these Donovan Christie limited-edition prints! Available now, exclusively through Bluethumb, until sold out.

View this week’s curation to see the Bluethumb artworks Donovan is loving at the moment.

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One Comment

  1. Just mind-blowing. EXTRAORDINARY!

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