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We didn’t think a trip to the Dandenong Ranges could get any better. You’ve got the infamous 1000 steps to conquer, breakfast in the breathtaking hills and a pitstop at the award-winning Pie in the Sky. But when we heard experiential artist Rone had opened his latest exhibit EMPIRE in an abandoned mansion, we were more than a little intrigued.

Burnham Beeches in Sherbrooke is Alfred Nicholas’s mansion built in 1933. Set amongst a picturesque backdrop of lakes and waterfalls, it’s been vacant for over 20 years. Yet it’s recently undergone a revival with chef Shannon Bennett opening his Piggery Cafe, immensely popular with families keen to enjoy lunch, a game of croquet and visit the resident baby emus and llamas. 

Bennett has another phase of the development planned - Victoria’s first 6-star luxury retreat. But before this transformation takes place, artist Rone saw an opportunity to transform the graceful yet dilapidated abandoned mansion into an artistic experience. 

Tyrone “Rone” Wright is known for his large-scale installations and artworks on abandoned buildings. He created EMPIRE in secret. Cleverly fusing art, vision, sound, light, scent and botanical design, it’s an immersive, multi-sensory journey.

Inspired collaboration with interior stylist Carly Spooner, composer Nick Batterham and scent designer Kat Snowden ensured every part of the exhibit was carefully considered. Wander through dark hallways lit by only the faint glint of candlelight. Observe a cobweb-covered antique grand piano or vintage champagne coupe tower accompanied by an eery soundscape. The immersive originality is truly stunning.

To preserve the entire EMPIRE exhibition for future audiences, it’s been scanned in 3D. Once the hotel is opened in 2020, the art will live on in an augmented reality exhibit. It’s one that’ll no doubt continue to delight visitors for years to come. ☆

Artwork: Rone

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