"Heavy industry once defined the Illawarra. Squeezed in a narrow strip between the coast and a towering escarpment were coal mines, coke and brickworks peppered across the coastal suburbs. Miners cottages, postwar brick and fibro dwellings housed the workers and their families who operated and serviced this domineering industrial complex throughout the 20th Century. These homes were a prominent feature of the built environment, a profound mark between place and time in lived space. As the steel and coal industry has faded in the Illawarra in the last 30 years, so too has the texture of people's homes and their settings. New industries have led to dwelling gentrification. New replaces old without a murmur.
I have lived in the northern Illawarra my whole life. 'A Different Road Home' is an exploration of the smaller suburbs in the region often bypassed by the main roads and freeways. The homes in these suburbs, like many others, have been vulnerable to the changing circumstances and fortunes in recent years. In my practice I use woodblock printing techniques combined with painting to depict the vernacular architecture. By carving the image I create a level of density that ensures permanence, whether the existing structure remains or is destroyed."
Chris Zanko graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Arts at Wollongong University with a Distinction in Painting. He is a finalist of 2019 Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, was the winner of the 2016 Gosford and Gongcrete Art Prizes and a finalist in the 2015 Lloyd Rees Memorial Youth Art Award. He has exhibited in group exhibitions including at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Project Contemporary Art Space in Wollongong. In 2017 he was invited to participate in Art Box Project’s Japanese residency in Shibuya, Tokyo.