With the closure of Geelong Gallery in mid-March 2020 due to Covid-19, we made an early decision to postpone all special exhibitions scheduled for that year replacing them with a range of quick response projects drawn from our collection. A major exhibition originally scheduled to launch in May 2020 was RONE in Geelong, encompassing the first survey of the artist’s work, a 3-dimensional tableau recreating a former project, and the major transformation of the Douglass Gallery in response to the historical architecture and the collection. At the time of revising dates (to February 2021, the start of our 125th anniversary year), the project had been comprehensively scoped and a complex logistical schedule had been developed, the dates of which were rolled through into early 2021 (with the hope that no further closures would be necessary by that stage).
Central to the successful delivery of the project was the artist RONE building a 1:1 scale simulation of the Douglass Gallery in his Melbourne studio. This enabled all elements of the installation to be carried out well in advance – from the painted murals and trompe l’oeil simulations of plaster tondos and wall finishes, to the building of furniture and creation of copies of works from the Gallery’s collection that underwent various treatments. RONE’s engagement with the collection is a unique aspect of this project, reconnecting him with the holdings of the gallery he visited growing up in Geelong. On-site installation spanned a four-week period with Gallery staff working closely with RONE, the production team, stylist and composer.
While the artist’s reputation for working in abandoned spaces and sites scheduled for imminent demolition may seem at odds with the permanent edifice of the art museum and its purpose to preserve visual and material culture, RONE’s installation provokes new thinking on the very idea of the museum: of the images and objects that help shape individual and collective cultural memory; of the things we value as signs of our lives and times; and of what can so easily be lost.
Lisa Sullivan Senior Curator, Geelong Gallery
Images from RONE in Geelong member's preview & exhibition opening. Photos by Timothy Marriage. Installation view photos by Andrew Curtis, February 2021.
VIDEO | The making of RONE in Geelong
Go behind the scenes to discover the making of RONE in Geelong with a particular focus on the creation of a 200 square metre bespoke carpet.