You can’t miss her. She’s the 22 metre by 22 metre mysterious portrait towering over the construction site of Hibernian Place, a new development in the east end of Perth. The mural, which adds a calming tone to the busy CBD, is the work of Melbourne street artist Tyrone Wright (referred to as Rone), who has a signature style of painting female muses in juxtaposing settings around the world.
Rone comes down from his crane and wanders over from the construction site for a chat. You can’t miss him in his hi-vis safety gear, splattered in grey and white paint.
“I just signed it an hour ago on the top left side, so she’s finished,” says Wright. “It’s a commitment when you sign it. I know it’s finished when I can’t see anything wrong with it, it doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as nothing is wrong.”
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Wright says that his subjects are always based on a photograph and completed freehand using layers of monochromatic paint. In this case the subject is a Perth local, who Rone says has an interesting look because you can’t immediately distinguish her heritage.
“As interesting as she is, it’s not about her. It’s more about using her as this image of beauty and painting her on this boring wall, and the contrast of beauty and decay, which is like most of my work,” he says.
Whether it’s a hidden wall in Cuba or cement silos in Geelong, Rone is renowned for painting monochromatic portraits – predominantly of women – on buildings around the world. He’s also contributed to permanent collections at the National Gallery of Victoria and National Gallery of Australia.
“It all started in 2001. My friends and I were doing all different subjects and one of my friends was painting a screaming vampire and I realised that everything in street art is super masculine, so I wanted something that was the opposite,” says Wright.
It was then Rone realised the calming portraits of women spoke louder and decayed more beautifully over time than more aggressive subjects.
“So I started to explore this side of beauty and decay and it was a cool thing to eventually grow into,” he says. “That’s why I love old buildings and raw surfaces and this wall I’ve just painted is new but raw. When I was working with the architects, they were trying to work out if they should resurface it and I told them to leave it. Having that rawness and the tension between ugly and beauty is more interesting. To try and make an ugly wall look beautiful is the challenge.”
Over the years, Rone has gained the reputation of being responsible for launching the street art movement in Melbourne. He started his studio, Everfresh, in 2001 with a number of respected street artists including Callum Preston, who also came to Perth to help Rone complete the mural in just eight days.
“We had allowed three weeks to complete her, but the weather has been great and we managed to finish much sooner,” he says.
The mural faces Hay Street in the east end of the Perth CBD and is the public’s first taste of the new Hibernian Place, which is launching in late April this year. Developed by BGC Development, Hibernian Place will be home to Perth’s first Westin hotel; as well as Garum restaurant by Guy Grossi; an all-day eatery by Graham Arthur; Melbourne’s Huxtaburger; a rooftop bar by Andy Freeman; coffee roaster by Mary Street Bakery; Uber’s Perth headquarters; and a Bodhi J wellness spa and a central plaza for people to enjoy into the late hours.
Hibernian Place is at 480 Hay Street in East Perth and opens in April.