Rone’s new exhibition, Time, is a nostalgic ‘love letter’ to mid-century Melbourne. It’s fitting, therefore, that the expansive project is set within one of the city’s oldest and most famous landmarks – Flinders Street Station.
It’s been three years in the making, with more than 120 creatives and professionals working on the the 11 carefully crafted installations and rooms adorned with the street artist’s signature murals.
The piece brings Rone’s unique style of visuals, objects, evocative lighting and sound design to the station’s 112-year-old ballroom and third floor – a space that was once a hive of activity, hosting everything from dance classes to sporting clubs from the mid-1900s until the ’80s.
‘For years, I had heard all these stories about the mysterious ballroom above Flinders Street Station. I always wondered how much of it was truth and how much was urban myth. I was desperate to get in there,’ Rone explains.
The local artist has worked with historical buildings before, previously taking over an ornate Art Deco mansion in 2019 for Empire. But Time, his most ambitious work yet, is dedicated to our city’s industrial past and working class.
‘The inspiration for [Time] was the building itself,’ Rone adds. ‘Each room informed what we would create inside. Many of the spaces felt like administrative spaces so that’s what we created. For example a mailroom, switchboard and a typing pool. Other areas were more social like the ballroom of course, and then we looked at education spaces like our library and classroom installations which are a direct nod to what actually existed up there during the mid-1900s.’
It’s a clever combination of this expertly crafted fictional history that transports audiences to post-WWII Melbourne, while offering glimpses of the station’s role as a ‘once-glorious hub of work, learning and life’.
Rone says the planning process began with photos he’s taken of model and muse, Teresa Oman. From there he creates mock ups, before painting directly on the wall or structures, which his team often design and build from scratch.
‘But the access to the site was the biggest challenge,’ he reveals. ‘Firstly, we couldn’t spend years onsite slowly developing the project like I have done before. Everything had to be done remotely. So the whole build was developed in 3D first. Then we also had to consider that everything needed to be hand carried through an 80cm wide door, through a lift, and on an active train platform.’
And the end result is something pretty magical: an ‘open-ended narrative’ that Rone hopes every person will experience differently.
Time opens to the public from Friday October 28 to Sunday January 29 at Flinders Street Station, Level 3. Buy your tickets here!