It’s an unlikely team-up: street artist and property development CEO, but the results are captivating. Turns out Len Warson, CEO of Glenvill Homes, has been collecting art by local street art stalwart Rone since 2011. More recently, Len extended the mural artist a unique opportunity at the site of his company’s future YarraBend Alphington housing development.
‘I was instantly drawn to the house, it was still in pretty good condition, and this is a concept I’ve been dreaming about for a few years,’ tells Rone of the early 1900s weatherboard home over which he was given free rein. ‘I have been painting abandoned houses for a while now, but it’s not something I could share with everyone. This project has let me do that.’
It’s like entering the set of a fantasy film. In this guise, ‘The Omega Project’ has been recorded innovatively using photography that teeters on fine art status, as well as an incredible 3D capture (take a virtual tour here). Rone is enthusiastic about documenting the project so it can last, in the face of the home’s imminent demolition, as well as the fleeting lifespan typically afforded street art.
The artist’s ‘Jane Doe’ depictions command each room, a signature that first emerged back in 2005. ‘The calming beauty was a contrast to lot of street art at the time, which was full of more aggressive, macho themes,’ tells Rone. ‘As the ‘Jane Doe’ murals aged on the street they would be torn or start to fall apart, and that’s when they were at their most powerful; when you could see the beauty just hanging in there. Ever since, I’ve been exploring the juxtaposition between beauty and decay.’
For the first time, Rone offers the viewer a chance to step inside his artwork, ‘rather than just look at it on their phone!’. He spent over a month creating the installation and capturing the final photographs.
Taking cues from the original walls, the artist has used the existing colours as a starting point, and built his tones from there. Friend, fan and now collaborator, Carly Spooner of The Establishment Studios also came on board to ensure the set dressing and styling of the home was authentic to both home and artist’s vision. She had a blast recreating the archetypal mid-century Australian interior landscape, to complement Rone’s paintings.
Carly’s contribution involved a lot of time spent trawling markets, secondhand shops and Gumtree, and delving into The Establishment Studios’ prop collection. Though an Avon Lady perfume bottle and a dog figurine come close, her favourite item on display is her Dad’s armchair, featured in the living room.
‘The Omega Project’ has already been described as a ‘potent symbol of defiance in the face of relentless change’ – change that Rone witnesses demolishing irreplaceable pieces of Melbourne’s identity. ‘I hope that visitors to the house will identify with it, and appreciate the things we are losing as our city changes,’ he welcomes. ‘It’s a sad fact that most of us can no longer afford a house with a huge front and backyard this close to the city. That said, I’m more scared of the endless sprawling suburbia that lacks infrastructure, than I am of high density living.’
‘The Omega Project’ by Rone
Saturday July 22nd to Sunday July 30th
28, Parkview Rd, Alphington
Rone has had enough of these wintery Melbourne Mornings, next he’s heading to Tahiti to paint walls for a bit! Follow his work on his website, here.