Tyrone Wright, also known as Rone, is doing pretty well. This year he was approached by property developer QIC to paint a mural on Collins Street, overlooking the (now-closed) Rue & Co pop-up. The result is one of the largest murals in the southern hemisphere. Following several overseas trips, Rone has returned to his stomping ground to present his new solo exhibition, an installation at the NGV for its Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition, and to (legally) decorate a tram.
“When I started there was no such thing as a career [in street art], no one was making a living out of it. Now there are schools who call us and ask us to give workshops to kids and it’s really kind of bizarre,” says Wright. He believes institutional acceptance of street art as a sanctioned art form will get people involved in all aspects of public art.
So what exactly is street art? Is it time for a new label? Wright describes his work as, “New age muralism”, a term that seems more accurate. Whatever you want to call it, the city seems to be lapping it up.
Wright’s work consists of female portraits, often using a restrained colour palette. For his new solo show, Lumen, Wright is exploring the idea of a spiritual awakening.
“It’s about when you’re growing up and you realise that something you have been told your entire life is not exactly the truth ... and you can’t continue on."
The exhibition is taking place inside and outside of a building at the site of his eight-storey Collins Street mural. Eleven large works have been hung inside the space and an additional two adorn the outside of the building.
Meanwhile, down the road at the NGV, Wright has an 80-metre installation. It consists of four portraits of Gaultier's “Australian Muses", who are Cate Blanchett, Kylie Minogue, Gemma Ward and Andreja Pejic.
You can also catch his work on a Melbourne Art Tram; the City of Melbourne has chosen to adorn one of its trams with Wright’s work. Wright tailored the art work to match the specifications of the tram by mapping out his design (to scale) on a wall and then photographing it to be printed onto vinyl. So if you see a chunk of Fitzroy on the move through Essendon, you’ll know why.
"It's very strange to see your street rolling down the street," says Wright.
Tram 209 will operate on Essendon Routes 55, 57, 59 and 82.
Wright’s show Lumen is on at 109 Little Collins Street, Melbourne from 24 October 2014 until 9 November 2014.