Rone transforms Flinders Street Station ballroom to bring back a lost era

Sep 29, 2022
  • Article by Benay Ozdemir

Internationally renowned artist Rone is set to take over Melbourne’s iconic location with his exhibition, Time.

The epic new installation will be brought to Flinders Street Station’s hidden third floor and ballroom, bringing a lost era of Melbourne history back to life.

Over three years since its inception, Time will open to the public on Friday 28 October. 

The artist behind Time, Tyrone ‘Rone’ Wright. Photo: Tony Mott Photography.

Since first using abandoned buildings for his first distinctive large-scale portraits and hauntingly atmospheric multimedia installations in 2016, Melbourne-based artist, Tyrone ‘Rone’ Wright has established an international reputation and presence.

The artist transforms the spaces of derelict and forgotten sites through rich sensory experiences presenting intriguing fictional histories and divergent themes of beauty and decay, materiality and loss through his art.

Following Patricia Piccinini’s hugely popular Rising exhibition, A Miracle Constantly Repeated, which closed in June, Rone’s upcoming installation will be held in a space that was once occupied by sporting clubs and language classes.

Patricia Piccinini’s Rising exhibition, A Miracle Constantly Repeated. Photo: Eugene Hyland

This time the fabled ballroom is being transformed into a nostalgic tribute to mid-century Melbourne. The exhibition will capture both the timeless character of the 112-year-old site and the sentimental details of a period of the city’s life long lost to progress.

Shining light on a working class era

The exhibition will focus on the city’s working class, offering fictional histories that will transport audiences to post WWII Melbourne through installations of the artist’s making. Visitors will be able to explore 11 distinctly themed rooms filled with countless original and meticulously recreated period objects, evocative lighting and sound design. 

The project will take them on a journey to the typing pools, machine rooms and public libraries of mid 1900s Melbourne and, in true Rone style, female portraits hover serene and ghost-like above each scene.

Work area of the clock room in the Time exhibition. Photo: Tony Mott Photography

“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,” says Rone.

“I find it fascinating that there is an entire wing of the building that was locked up for decades,” he explains. “Once I discovered how important these spaces had been in the past, I knew I wanted to share that with people.”

Challenges faced for Rone’s team

Rone describes the various restrictions he and his team faced while curating the exhibition in the Heritage-listed space. He had to engage a team of more than 120 professionals to work over a period of several months to complete Time’s intricate installation process, with scenic artists, lighting designers, Heritage experts, riggers and many others working behind the scenes.

Flinders Street Station. Photo: State Library of Victoria

“It has taken more than three years to bring this project to life and, when I began the process back in 2019, no one had really been up here for 40 years,” explains Rone. “Though it was a dream come true to finally get the go-ahead, for a long while I wasn’t actually allowed into the space. So a lot of it had to be done remotely – and then all at the last minute. Between Heritage restrictions and pandemic lockdowns, there were a lot of hoops to jump through.”

Rone describes Time as an open-ended narrative, saying there is no right or wrong way to experience it, but there are trails he hopes people will pick up.

“People make their own story, and every person will experience it differently,” he says.

Tickets for the exhibition are on sale from Thursday 29 September via www.rone.art.

Also in Melbourne, after an action-packed winter of art exhibitionslive music and delicious food, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) is set to keep the party going with its Spring/Summer Season.

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