Time - The Library

OCTOBER  28 2022 - APRIL 23 2023
Flinders Street Station, Level 3.

Set in the long-abandoned third-floor wing of Flinders Street Station, Time is a nostalgic love letter to mid-century Melbourne and a tribute to one of the city’s great icons.

Created and developed over three years, this truly exceptional site-specific experience was Rone’s most ambitious project to date. Profoundly atmospheric, Time captures both the grand scale and character of the site and the minute detail of a period of Melbourne’s history long lost to progress.

A fictional history that transports audiences to post-WWII Melbourne, Time is inspired by an era when European migrants powered the city’s booming manufacturing industries. A vignette of mid-century working-class life and an ode to the faded yet enduring beauty of this forgotten place, Time captures the spirit of the city’s industrious past while offering glimpses of the station’s role as a once-glorious hub of work, learning and social life.

Twelve installations, each room was adorned with Rone’s haunting signature murals, the artist and his team created an immersive, multisensory installation that audiences will remember for time to come.

Artist Statement

The amazing space that I’ve been given access to for my latest work, Time, was long thought lost. I had never seen it before but had always known about it. It’s one of those urban legends of Melbourne, that there’s this hidden ballroom at the top of Flinders Street Station.

When I go into abandoned spaces, it’s what’s left behind that tells the story. This space tells a million stories. The third floor of the station building was a hive of activity for decades, a communal space for railway workers. There was a ballroom up here, as many people know; there were also sporting clubs, wrestling matches, a billiards room, and an amateur radio station. Adult education classes taught everything from English language to wine appreciation. During the 1970s the space housed a sauna, and at one point there was even a running track on the roof. And not far from here, in Flinders Lane, the city’s rag trade thrived after the Second World War. My grandmother worked in a factory there. These stories are still there, if you look hard enough.

Now, painting is just a fraction of my practice. In Time, I’m building on an immersive approach that I started with my installation Empire at Burnham Beeches, a faded Art Deco mansion out in the Dandenong Ranges. In conceiving this show, I had the idea that while Empire told the stories of the wealthy upper class, Time is more about the working class, about industry. This is a place where real people came and worked and learned and played, every day.

But Time is not a history lesson. It’s an interpretation of the space, of the wider area, and of an era lost to time. Time tells many stories, through objects, through sound, and through the character of the existing building. It’s an open-ended narrative – there’s no right or wrong way to experience the space, just trails that I hope people will pick up. People make their own story, and every person will experience it differently.

I can’t imagine creating a work like this again in Melbourne. There just won’t be a better one. The work that has gone into Time is the culmination of 21 years of working as an artist in Melbourne. For a street artist, finding hidden, abandoned spaces is a challenge. The Flinders Street ballroom has been my white whale. The work won’t last – it has been designed with a limited lifespan in mind – but I hope the stories will live on

- Rone