May 2021

If anything’s going to tip your emotions into tears there’s a fair chance that music will.

Julie’s eye are brimming, welling. I go to hold her hand but I only touch her fingers briefly, and then let go. Shy (immature? unkind?) I stand close, though, as we listen to the music in a room evoking faded beauty, the transience of life, lost grandeur, and, perhaps, abandoned love.

A piano is broken. Burnt, seemingly. A harp is stranded, unplayable. Chairs in a once lavish dining room are rotting. Fallen over. A walking stick lies on the carefully-designed mottled carpet. A chandelier casts no light, let alone opulence. Stained paintings on the wall, famous paintings. Cracked crockery. Rusty cutlery. Old books.  Playing cards.  Aces, hearts, A vase. A sideboard. A lamp. All tainted by age. Dilapidation.

From each end of the long room a woman’s face gazes. Large murals. Not subtle.

If anything’s going to tip your emotions into tears, there’s a fair chance that being in your hometown will.

We are at the Geelong Gallery. The art is by Rone. The music, a 17 minute soundtrack, is by Nick Batterham.

The combination has cast a spell. We do not want to leave, despite the sadness. We do not want to step into another room, a different exhibition, because then the moment will be lost. Over. Gone.

There are people milling about. It is a very popular exhibition.

We stay for at least 17 minutes. And then more. And more. But the crowd is growing. Swarming. Dozens of high school students in uniforms we recognise from our long-gone youth.

Julie’s tears have dried but the redness is there.

We exit through the gift shop. Of course. No other way. A Rone jigsaw? A Rone catalogue? A tote bag? No. No. No. The Nick Batterham soundtrack? Yes. Sometimes you want to re-live the sadness, the intimacy, so that the fingers touch not briefly, but longingly.


Soundtrack excerpt via Nick Batterham website

Rone website

Stereo Story #604

Vin is founding editor of Stereo Stories and director/MC of Stereo Stories In Concert.