ARTIST Tyrone Wight (aka RONE) is known for his transformation of abandoned homes and industrial spaces, and evocative images of beautiful young women.
Born and raised in Geelong, RONE has gone from spearheading Melbourne's fledgling street art movement in the early 2000s to being a celebrated fixture on the international art scene, exploring themes of ruin and loss.
An inveterate traveller, his distinctive female muses have followed him around the world, and can be found - in various states of decay - peering from beneath overpasses and emblazoned on walls from New York to New Zealand.
Geelong Gallery is presenting the first comprehensive solo survey of RONE's career, from his early stencil works and street art, to photographs that document his transformation of abandoned spaces as well as large-scale murals.
It's a surreal experience to have his work shown at the gallery, admitted the artist, who remembers visiting the early 20th century building as a student.
"At the time I liked the idea of being an artist but I didn't see anyone making a full-time living from it. There always had to be a back-up plan."
That included a stint as a waiter and a graphic design/graphic art course. Still, there are times when this artist-of-the-moment feels "that I cheated, that I walked in the back door, because I didn't go to Fine Art School".
The exhibition runs until May 16.
Already one of its most popular features is the multi-sensory installation in the Douglass Gallery, a recreation of a grand reception hall from an earlier time, inspired by the artist's visit to Venice in 2019.
Installations are often difficult to describe but RONE summed his up perfectly. "My installations are like a painting you can walk through."
For the installation, he reproduced some of the gallery's iconic works, including Frederick McCubbin's A Bush Burial (1890), to hang on the walls. He gave them an aged appearance so they more closely resembled the original.
RONE's dream now is to find a small unloved ghost town that he can buy and work his special brand of creative magic on.
Pre-book exhibition tickets online ($16 ad/$12 conc - www.geelonggallery.org.au).
Getting there: V/Line services get you to the heart of Geelong. It's just a short stroll through parklands to the gallery in Little Malop Street or you can take the Geelong Flyer ferry service from the Docklands to Cunningham Pier, a 15-minute walk from the gallery.
- Geelong Flyer: 9514-8959, portphillipferries.com.au
GEELONG has a host of attractions, so it's worthwhile to stay over.
The National Wool Museum, housed in a beautifully restored 1872 bluestone wool store, recently opened On the Land: Our Story Retold, the first major exhibition on Australian wool since a 1994 exhibition by Sydney Living Museum. The contemporary, interactive exhibition offers a deeper cultural and environmental understanding of our wool story.
Even the museum's taxidermy sheep have had a makeover courtesy of Melbourne illustrator Ashley Ronning.
The museum is also hosting theworld-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum in London, until May 2. It features exceptional images which capture fascinating animal behaviour, spectacular species and the breathtaking diversity of the natural world.
The National Wool Museum, Moorabool Street, Geelong; admission $10 adults, $8 concession.
More than books
THE Geelong Library and Heritage Centre is no ordinary library.
The magnificent nine-storey dome structure looms over Johnstone Park and features state-of-the-art facilities, an event space, children's tactile area, archive collection, cafe and of course a library.
For those with historical connections to the region, there is a vast collection of heritage archives.
After exploring the centre allow yourself to be enticed by the wonderful nooks and comfortable chairs, pull out a book and settle in for a relaxing read.
Where to stay
Novotel Geelong occupies a prime dress circle position with impressive views across Eastern Beach from many of its balconies.
The 109-room hotel in the heart of the CBD is just a few minutes' walk from the ferry.
Accommodation options range from standard king rooms up to the top-of-the-range one-bedroom Steampacket Suite on the top floor.
YOU could walk past the unassuming shopfront at 47 Gheringhap Street, just a short stroll from the art gallery, but don't.
Inside is SUMI, an Asian-influenced charcoal barbecue restaurant and bar offering just 26 seats.
Operated by friends Alex Pan, Nathan Johnstone and Kyle Wang, it focuses on the flavours imparted by Japanese charcoal.
Pull up a chair at the bar or take one of the tables for two and prepare to be blown away by the offerings emerging from Wang's kitchen. It's open Wednesday to Saturday for lunch and dinner and for lunch on Sunday.
In the evening, Alma in Ryrie Street is the place for contemporary Australian dining with the flavours of South America. The food, designed for sharing, is sourced as locally as possible. The restaurant is open every day for dinner and Friday to Sunday for lunch.
After dinner drop into the Geelong Cellar Door in the Little Malop Street precinct where owner Jon Helmer, renowned for his knowledge of the local wine industry, selects the perfect wine from an impressive wall display dedicated to only Geelong region wine.
You can slip into one of the comfy booths or settle in by the fire and enjoy a charcuterie platter.
Sue Preston was a guest of Tourism Greater Geelong and Bellarine.
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