Rone: Empire

A multi-sensory decaying world by Melbourne street artist Rone — set in a deserted 1930s mansion.
Hudson Brown and Marissa Ciampi
Published on March 05, 2019

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From towering silos to inner-city suburban landmarks, Melbourne-based street artist Rone has always been pretty creative about where he paints his large-scale murals. But for the last 12 months, he's been hiding away in the lush community of Sherbrooke, in the Dandenong Ranges, transforming the dilapidated art deco mansion Burnham Beeches into an artsy dreamland.

Famous for his massive portraits that combine elements of beauty and ruin, alongside concepts of new and old, Empire is Rone's most ambitious project to date.

It's set in the 'decaying glory' of the 1930s estate, which has periodically acted as a family home, research facility, children's hospital and luxury hotel. The mansion is now owned by the Vue Group but has been vacant for over 20 years. Empire spans 12 (previously empty) rooms over multiple storeys and centres around a series of the artist's signature 'Jane Doe' monochrome portraits — the muse for which is actress Lily Sullivan (MentalPicnic at Hanging Rock).

Apart from the murals, the art deco-era furnishings are courtesy of interior stylist Carly Spooner (Fitzroy's The Establishment Studios), who also worked on Rone's The Omega ProjectThe rooms have been furnished with over 500 antique pieces, including a moss-covered grand piano — which was left exposed in the open garden for several weeks to attain an aged effect.

The four seasons play a major role in Empire, and this varying atmosphere was accomplished by a team of specialists — flairs of art, vision, sound, light, virtual reality, scent and botanical design will take visitors on an immersive multi-sensory experience. Expect a hauntingly beautiful vibe of an era-gone-by, as Rone seeks to create an ambiguous storyline that can be felt by each guest individually. Rone takes personal inspiration for the space from the Mark Romanek-directed music video for the Johnny Cash cover of Hurt (originally by Nine Inch Nails) — which should give a sense of what you're in for.

Empire will run from Wednesday, March 6 to Monday, April 22 at Burnham Beeches. Tickets start at $15 and can be purchased here.  


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