Over the past two decades, Melbourne-based artist Rone has built a reputation for his large-scale portraits and hauntingly atmospheric installations. Known for transforming unusual and forgotten spaces into richly sensory experiences that explore themes of beauty, decay and loss, Rone’s latest show ‘Time‘ is his most ambitious piece of work yet.
Time is an extraordinary immersive installation within eleven rooms across the hidden upper level and ballroom of the iconic Flinders Street Station. My plus one and I were lucky enough to visit on opening night to speak to the artist and explore the rooms for ourselves.
Each room reflects the everyday workers who would have passed through the station on their way to work in nearby factories and offices. Both a nod to the building’s actual history as well as to the industry of Melbourne’s downtown in the mid-1900s, you’d struggle to believe that these rooms were not just abandoned one day but instead they have been carefully constructed from the ground up. A typing pool, a library, an art room, classroom, and more; each room referencing the toil of the working class and the tools and machinery of a forgotten Melbourne.
In the Work Room, vintage industrial sewing machines and benches appear alongside a haunting portrait of Rone’s muse. Further down the hall in the Typing Pool, fourteen matching mid-century typewriters appear on metal tables alongside weathered chairs. Cobwebs and dust cover every surface, it’s truly hard to fathom that this was only finished a week ago.
There is so much detail in each room you could never see it all in one visit. It’s often intentionally difficult to tell where the artwork ends and where the original building starts. While we knew these rooms were completely fabricated for the experience, the level of detail is astounding and will have you second guessing yourself that you have just uncovered an abandoned space.
The fabled ballroom is the star of the show with a twelve metres long glasshouse, rusted over and draped in vines. The space has an eerie yet peaceful soundtrack by composer Nick Batterham, that slowly changes between each space. As you walk between rooms, keep an ear out for the subtle changes in both the dynamic lighting design and the tunes.
Time is a collaborative work with set builder and director Callum Preston, set decorator Carly Spooner, as well as a team of more than 120 Victorian creatives and professionals to help realise every element of the exhibition’s vision. Rone told us how the project began in 2019, so we’re so glad to see it come to fruition.
For many people that missed out on the first few months of tickets, just a few doors down from the exhibition on Flinders Street is a Newsagency installation and adjoining Mixed Business Store. Part exhibition space, part retail, this area is completely free to visit during exhibition hours and features a glimpse into the full experience upstairs as well as a focus on local creative like Ghost Patrol, Mysterious Al, Callum Preston and Carla McRae.
Rone continues to amaze us with his large-scale installations. This show is a blockbuster event and we’ll be back to see it in a different light over the coming months. At some points in the show we were lost for words and will be dreaming of exploring the empty halls of Flinders Street Station for years to come.
– The Plus Ones