Treat yourself at ‘Sugar Republic’

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Lolly land at Sugar Republic, photography by Desiree De Bruin

Remember the ginger bread house that Hansel and Gretel couldn’t keep away from? That is Sugar Republic, a pop up art exhibition in Fitzroy dedicated to sweet lovers.

“Sugar pie honey bunch, you know that I love you, I can’t help myself” plays over the speakers as you first walk into the exhibition. It is true, visitors cannot help themselves (myself included) and proceed to eat all the lollies in sight. 

The tickets used to redeem sweet treats. Photograph: Desiree De Bruin

Instagram led to Sugar Republic’s success and visitors take photos at the ‘insta-worthy’ place all day long. The @sugarrepublic Instagram page has more than 57,000 followers. 

Hundreds of people wander through the exhibition daily. Entry is $35 per person and unfortunately there are no student discounts, however, can you really put a price on a perfect selfie? It is mainly women at the art event, with the occasional boyfriend dragged along to take their girlfriend’s photograph #boyfriendsofinstagram. 

The perfect photo opportunity. Photograph: Desiree De Bruin

An artist whose work is featured in Sugar Republic, Sarah Borg said, “I’m so excited to have some of my creations featured, the exhibition is full of sweet, magical goodness!” Borg is an artist from Melbourne who says she has a “fervent need to make and create.” This is what led to the creation of her business Bangin Hangins. Sarah began designing and constructing wall hangings three years ago. She has created commissions for companies such as Cotton On, Mecca Maxima, Havaianas and even the Pentridge prison. She makes custom pieces for weddings, birthdays and any special event. Her latest work is a commissioned piece for Sugar Republic and it is one of her bigger pieces to date (5m X 4m). It can be seen below as the colourful backdrop for the giant cake (not her work). 

Bangin Hangins by Sarah Borg, photography by Desiree De Bruin

Allison Jones is the managing director at Sugar Republic, she told Orenda Magazine that she “came up with the idea after travelling to lots of quirky museums around Europe and Asia and noted a trend for immersive and interactive art events. I thought it would be fun to create an adult experience that was about re-living your childhood, and what better theme than sweets!” 

Tasha Elias works at the pop up event and said it was created “just for some fun and for big kids to feel like little kids again”. The sensory and interactive exhibition certainly makes patrons feel like kids in a candy shop. The majority of the art is edible, “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men” once said Willy Wonka.

I heard one visitor say “it’s just a place for people to take selfies” before they proceeded to take a selfie. However, there’s no shame in taking photos and kudos to the one girl who was dressed head to toe like she was a part of the installation.

Australia’s first neon art wall. Photograph: Desiree De Bruin

Sugar Republic will run until until the 17th of August, so (sugar) rush down, it’s not everyday you get to play in a giant ball pit without being judged by onlookers. 

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