The making of RONE in Geelong
The theme of the grand reception room was inspired by a trip to Venice in late 2019, where I often found the trompe l'oeil painting more beautiful, or more dramatic, than the actual marbles and moulded plaster details. For me, showing an illusion of what could be—or what could have been—is sometimes more exciting than what is.
Researching the Gallery’s collection, the muted tones of Florence Royce’s painted ceramics spoke to what I often try to represent: a fading beauty. Building on the reception room concept, I wanted each end of the room to feel different but to have continuity. Light and dark was the answer to this: the sun-faded colours of the lighter end under the glass ceiling contrasting with the soot-stained darker end of the room, the residue of a burnt piano.
Trompe l'oeil is part of everything I do: the entire space is an illusion. My installations are like a painting that you can walk through. Every object and item in the space has been put there with intent. Many of the items of furniture are replicas; some are easy to spot, but others are simply altered originals. The harp is a non-functional replica, and the piano is damaged and unplayable, but the musical soundtrack that fills the room is very real.
The idea of replicas also extends to printed reproductions of paintings and watercolours from the Gallery's collection. These were then framed with second-hand frames so they appear like the originals, only aged and uncared for. The muse, painted directly onto the walls, appears oversized but subtly blends with its surroundings: her presence links her to the fabricated history of the space.