17 April 2024

Wagga artist to unveil 'world’s largest' Chiko Roll

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Wagga pop artist Chris with his giant Chiko Roll

Wagga pop artist Chris Roe with his giant Chiko Roll. Photo: Supplied.

Wagga pop artist and Region Riverina editor Chris Roe is ready to unveil his latest exhibition – a fusion of Australian history, culture, and imagination with a post-apocalyptic flair.

Rogue Thoughts features paintings and sculptural works depicting iconography, history and Aussie ‘Kulcha’ with a post-apocalyptic, comic book aesthetic.

The exhibition will kick off at the Ambo Gallery on Johnston Street on Friday (19 April) afternoon featuring the “world’s largest” Chiko Roll and a revealing piece featuring Ned Kelly.

Monolith is a new, inflatable sculpture celebrating Wagga’s claim to being the home of the iconic Chiko Roll.

Chris said he was drawn to the absurdity of the Chiko debate.

In 1951 Bendigo boilermaker Frank McEnroe super-sized a spring roll and launched his culinary creation at the Wagga Show and 73 years later, the feud over the Chiko’s origins continues, with Bathurst challenging Wagga’s and Bendigo’s claims.

“Is this oversized spring roll really how we define ourselves in Wagga?” Chris asked.

“Apparently it is! Even if you’ve never eaten one, there’s no doubt the Chiko is a deep-fried 20th-century icon.

“I wanted to create a piece of mobile public art that would give people a laugh and, at the same time, ask questions about how Wagga represents itself in the grand narrative of Australia,” he said.

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The big Chiko has been a work in progress for the Wagga artist for a few months.

“The hardest part was probably having to scale down my original ambition of a four-metre-tall outdoor inflatable.

“It was just going to cost too much so I shrunk it down to a convenient ‘selfie size’. I still hope to make a bigger one if I can get enough interest.”

But can he really claim that it’s the “world’s largest”?

The biggest Chiko Roll Chris found was a fibreglass one attached to a Variety Club car in a museum in Bathurst.

“It’s about 140 cm and mine is between 185 and 200 cm and is much more realistic.”

Rogue Thoughts opens Friday 19 April at the Ambo Gallery in Wagga. Photo: Chris Roe.

Nude Kelly is an acrylic painting with collage elements depicting the bushranger as never before.

The painting features the infamous outlaw’s helmet combined with the body of Michelangelo’s David and is rendered as a two-tone silhouette on a heavily textured surface.

“By bringing together and reframing two instantly recognisable motifs of Australian and classical art, the painting challenges the mythology of the Kelly legend and pokes fun at the cult of masculinity and anti-authoritarianism that obscures historical truth,” Chris explained.

“I think it’s important to expose these venerated figures and ask who they really are underneath.

“Making fun of Ned is almost a sacrilege in Aussie ‘Kulcha’ so it will be interesting to see what the ‘Such is Life’ devotees make of my Ned in the nude.”

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Ned Kelly is a historical figure Chris has always been intrigued by.

“What’s not to like about a gunslinging outlaw in armour? I do love the wilder side of history but I feel that truth and nuance get lost in mythology and ideology,” he said.

“History is grey, not black and white and humans are always complex.”

Nude Kelly will be unveiled at the Rogue Thoughts exhibition. Photo: Chris Roe.

The news editor by day and enigmatic artist by night said he tended to get mildly obsessed with grand, silly and unusual ideas and liked to challenge himself to make anything and everything.

“I like to create artworks that are almost like a missing piece of a story and hope to inspire people to create their own narrative around the images,” he said.

Rogue Thoughts is Chris’s second exhibition for the year. In February his first solo exhibition, Rogue Elements, was held at Gallery 43 at TAFE NSW.

Earlier this year a painting of his was selected for the Bald Archy Prize.

Rogue Thoughts’ opening night is Friday 19 April from 5:30 pm while the exhibition is set to run from 20 to 28 April at The Ambo Gallery, 54-58 Johnston Street, Wagga.

All works are for sale. Check out CROE Workshop on Facebook for more information or to get in touch.

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