Austi’s Chris Zanko is a young artist and performer who’s on the brink of doing amazing things.
It was his gorgeous lino prints of iconic local architecture that caught our attention. Not only are they created by a Northern Illawarra local, but they depict some of the area’s most recognisable properties.
Chris is a born and bred local.
Austinmer Public School then Bulli High led Chris to a Diploma in Fine Art at Wollongong TAFE, followed by a Bachelor to Creative Arts at UOW. In fact, he’s just about to graduate, with the students currently holding their final exhibition.
Chris says he’s always wanted to become an artist, drawing inspiration from his artist mother, Roz Chattaway.
“Also,” he says, “lots of our friends are artists and creative people, so I just sort of fell into it”
Chris says his father is a collector of all things art deco, so he was drawn to the older, classic local homes, and they’ve been hugely successful for him.
“Growing up in the Northern Illawarra, I’ve really noticed the area change. When I was younger, people didn’t have as much money. The homes were more modest. Now, all those homes are being knocked down so the area is not going to look like this much longer. It’s great to be able to capture these beautiful buildings while they’re still here.”
Chris has depicted six local buildings for the Egg and Dart Christmas show, which starts in Thirroul this week. In fact, when he’s not in his studio, he works at Egg and Dart, immersing himself in the local artistic community, and is part of a group exhibition being hung there next April. “This show will feature more of my adapted lino prints. I really like lino. I like its relationship to the heritage of this area as flooring in so many of the original homes.
As part of his major Uni Graduation project, Chris has taken a similar, thoughtful approach to Port Kembla Steelworks, first making a lino print, then filling it in with paint.
“I draw a lot if inspiration from a Melbourne artist Howard Arkley,” he says. “He spent a lot of time depicting suburbia in Melbourne. My steelworks series shows the industrial architecture, and its relationship to the local area, and the smaller fibro homes. Now work is slowing down at Bluescope, these homes are being redeveloped. There is no relationship anymore.
“I’d like to further explore this concept in other towns where the steel industry has gone all together. Newcastle here in Australia is one example, while Manchester in the UK is another.”
They’re currently experiencing great success, with a South Coast tour underway and another planned for the North Coast later this year. “We will be performing at the Mornington Peninsula Boardriders Club Christmas Party,” he says, “which is the biggest boardriders club in Australia!”
They’re on the road with Byron Bay rock band Skeggs, thanks to an association formed during a concert at Thirroul last year. “We supported them at their show at Finbox, and became great mates, so now we’re touring together.”
The Pinheads were recently made famous by an on-stage incident at the recent Yours and Owls Festival, when a photographer got too close to a leaping rock musician, copping a foot to the lens and winding up unconscious in hospital, but not before capturing the moment the boot hit the camera!
“So many well-know artists are also musical,” Chris says. “It just goes with the territory. I would like to see my music and my visual art work hand in hand. It worked for Reg Mombassa!”
The exact moment Pinheads lead singer kicked a photographer in the camera, which hit him in the face, knocking him out! Photo thanks to @asharperimage on Instagram