Australian artist Rone’s latest show, Wallflower, opens at London’s Stolen Space gallery on the 11th April. We caught up with one of the worlds most impressive muralists for a few words on his technique, the community he has helped build in Melbourne and the gorgeous girls who act as his muses.
More jump off after the jump off…
VNA: Rone, firstly congratulations on landing the show at Stolen Space, tell us a little bit more about your latest show… You’ve painted some of the biggest murals in the world, how do you keep pushing and challenging yourself?
RONE: I challenge myself in walls that actually don’t even think I can do before I start. Then once I’ve started I’ve got no choice but to make it happen. I always wanted to paint big ever since I went to Berlin for the first time and saw what people like Blu had done. Since then I realized what was possible with some paint and a roller.
Now I’m at a point where I know If I’m not truly scared of a wall I’m not pushing myself.
VNA: When you’re going big, how do you maintain the detail and perspective? Do you project up your large-scale pieces? Do you feel like projecting up is cheating a little?
RONE: I projected 1 or 2 walls before I worked out it was a waste of time. There is so many technical issues with projecting that it limits what I wanted to do. I now use my own method, much like the grid system but a bit more loose.
VNA: Give us some background on Everfresh, how that came together, who made it what it is and where is it at right now?
RONE: Everfresh was started by 5 or 6 Melbourne graffiti/street artists. We wanted our own space to work from rather than trying to fit into a traditional art studio. We found a space we all shared, it was more like a club house than a studio. 10 years later we have moved a few times and fluctuated in size as people come and go. Just this month we have signed a lease for a new space that we should be in for many years and what we hope to do in the future is start an international residency for street artists. Not to exhibit in Melbourne, but just to paint walls.
VNA: Who are the girls you paint in your pieces? Are they real people, or do you make them up in your head? Do you have a never-ending stream of beautiful girls on tap just queueing up to let you paint their portraits?
RONE: Ha, no I don’t have a stream of girls queuing. But it is getting easier to convince them to work with me. So yes, they are real. The girl in this show is actually Teresa Oman, she is an amazing person from Byron Bay in Australia.
VNA: What’s the art scene like in Melbourne right now? It’s traditionally home to Australia’s street art scene, do you feel it still holds that crown?
RONE: I think in Australia, Melbourne still has the strongest constant art scene. Strangely Melbourne has never had one of these mural festivals but I don’t think it needs one either as it is abundant.
VNA: What is it about Melbourne that cultivates such a liberal attitude to art and painting in public spaces?
RONE: I think there could be a thesis written on this answer but it still wouldn’t explain it all… Let’s say it’s complicated.
VNA: Do you feel you’ve helped to shape the scene in Australia through your work with Backwoods and Everfresh?
RONE: I wouldn’t say I have shaped it, but I have been there to see it change from an ignored sub-culture to Melbourne’s biggest tourist attraction. I think one thing we did right was to welcome other international artists. I’ve always been a big traveller, so whenever someone came into town from another country, we welcomed them, and I think that has made us a great destination for other artists. Just knowing they can ask us for help finding a place to paint or borrowing a ladder makes a huge difference when traveling.
VNA: What does this year hold for you project-wise? Are you continuing to work on projects abroad? Do you feel you have to exhibit abroad to step your profile up in the art world?
RONE: I’m off to Taiwan and Mexico if everything goes to plan in the next few months. I think painting abroad is a great experience, just to be part of a new community and to leave them something they hopefully love.
I haven’t exhibited (solo) anywhere for almost 18 months, but my focus has been more international rather than Melbourne. I think it’s important for an artist to exhibit out side of their home city, it is much more challenging but also more personally rewarding.
VNA: Is there anything you feel you still have to prove, or do you feel you’ve achieved as much as you want to artistically? What does the future hold for you as an artist?
RONE: I have already achieved far more than I ever thought I would as an artist. However, now I’m here, I know I’m far from finished.