Empire by Rone
The Beauty of Melancholy
Rone is a Melbourne street artist best known for his haunting images of stylised women's faces, which always seem to project an air of wistful melancholy. His latest project, Empire, amplifies this into a deeply immersive experience which promises to evoke profound emotions.
Burnham Beeches is a crumbling 1930s mansion nestling in the Dandenong Ranges just outside Melbourne. Once an opulent home, the building had been turned into a hospital before it was shuttered more than 20 years ago, a decaying edifice perfect for Rone's ambitious project. He and his team spent a year to create this remarkable installation, which includes specially designed lighting, music, scents and botanical displays.
Rone's muse peers down from the wall of every room, overseeing scenes of doleful decay. Old furniture are scattered forlornly throughout, each piece with its own tale to tell, from the piano surrounded by sheets of music to the grand dining room with its pyramid of champagne saucers, remnants of a magnificent party abandoned before it got going. Dried flowers and dead branches sprout in unexpected places, as if the re-encroachment of nature has also come to an end. There is an overwhelming sense of sadness and contemplation, as the imagination turns to lives which could have been and might have been.
Empire is a fully immersive exhibition which runs from 6 March to 22 April, just as Melbourne surrenders to the inexorable embrace of autumn.