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World-class RONE Time Exhibition in Flinders St Station

Following weeks of finishing touches, Melbourne artist Rone reveals his most ambitious building takeover to date with the unveiling of TIME, an extraordinary and transportive immersive installation comprising eleven transformed rooms across the hidden upper level and ballroom of Flinders Street Station. All set within a mid-century time capsule, the art experience like no other has opened its doors and we were invited along to a VIP launch event.

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We felt this world class exhibition brings a brilliance and an authenticity, and evoked deep personal emotion, as I personally recalled my childhood experiences at my great aunts' mansion in Kew. It was as if Rone portrayed the intimate memories of my youth as well as yesteryear Melbourne. 

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Due to unprecedented demand from the opening through to the end of the year with almost all weekend sessions now sold out, Rone and the team are thrilled to extend the exhibition by three more months, now running until Sunday 23 April 2023.

“I can’t wait to finally show people what we’ve been up to for the last few years,” says Rone. “It’s been such a long time coming. We’re used to having a finite time with a space, so to have a whole six months to share with audiences will be really rewarding. I’m proud of what we’ve managed to create and I’m looking forward to hearing people’s own stories and connections once they come through the doors.”

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Of all of the locations that Rone has painted, Flinders Street Station is undoubtedly the most iconic. But instead of filling its halls with the glamour and excess similar to his previous work, Empire, TIME honours the blue-collar workers of industrial post-WWII-era Melbourne, the regular people – many of them migrants – who passed through the station each day to work in nearby factories, offices and shops throughout the city. Rone’s grandmother herself even worked as a seamstress on Flinders Lane in the 1940s.

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Using photo references from across the decades, Rone pieced together a vision for each of the rooms, which offer both a nod to the building’s actual history as well as to the industry of Melbourne’s downtown in the mid-1900s. A typing pool, a library, an art room, classroom, and more; each one referencing the toil of the working class and the tools and machinery of a forgotten era left behind.

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In the Work Room, vintage Consew and Brother brand industrial sewing machines and benches appear alongside a custom-built cutting table. And down the hall in the Typing Pool, fourteen matching mid-century typewriters appear on metal tables alongside weathered chairs that lead the eye into the main office room.

“There is so much detail in each room you could never see it all in one visit,” says Rone. “The aim is for audiences to be unsure where the artwork ends and where the original building starts. I like the idea that someone could walk in here and think, ‘He’s just done a painting on a wall,’ and that everything else they see is a legitimate, original part of the building. And perhaps they’ll think it’s kind of disrespectful that I’ve done that, that I’ve disturbed this space,” he continues. “For me, that’s the ultimate end-goal – it means it has worked.”

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Set to be the star of the show, the fabled cavernous ballroom known to all Melburnians but until recently seen by none, will greet visitors with a once-resplendent glasshouse more than twelve metres long, now rusted over and draped in entangled vines.

Appearing as his ghostly muse for Time, model Teresa Oman has worked and collaborated with the artist for close to a decade, appearing in dozens of his murals all over the world. Oman’s portrait will continue Rone’s distinctive and hauntingly atmospheric style of large-scale portaiture work, taking over vast spaces of the ballroom space and throughout the third floor.

Time also features collaborative works by sound composer Nick Batterham, set builder 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.

Beyond the third floor of Flinders Street Station, Time continues. Part exhibition space, part retail and completely free to visit during exhibition hours, Melbourne city visitors, residents and locals alike have the opportunity to enjoy the Newsagency installation and adjoining Mixed Business Store as it opens just a few doors down from the exhibition on Flinders St. A special glimpse of the Time experience set within the walls above it, Rone will occupy an empty storefront over the coming months where visitors can discover Melbourne’s underground creative network in a specially curated store.

Focussing on contemporary art, product and makers, plus new merchandise from much-loved Melbourne-based artists such as Callum Preston, Carla McRae, David Booth (Ghost Patrol), Lucy Lucy, Mysterious Al, Stephen Baker and local makers, Ruskin Black, Kate Bowman, Nate Gamble and more, this exciting addition to Time celebrates the breadth of local talent in the city’s artistic community, all in one location for the public to explore.

For Rone, perhaps the most satisfying outcome of Time is the prospect of audiences discovering the fascinating history of these long-forgotten spaces and seeing the potential for what might come next.“To really understand Flinders Street Station is to appreciate the important social role it played in Melbourne’s past, especially those who had traveled from other parts of the world to make their lives here,” he says. “The station is such an Australian icon, yet the wonderful stories of its heyday are largely unknown to people today. I hope this project stirs people to imagine a new future for these spaces; it would be incredible to see that same spirit of creativity, connection, and learning return someday.”