Artist Kelly Robson & The Tea Children

Kelly Robson answers some questions about how she she got started in street art; how her pieces are designed; and her involvement with the artwork in Chancery & Pennyweight Lanes. This is an expanded version of the Q&A used for my Bendigo Magazine contribution...feel free to check out the related article/blog post for the full story/background. Since the article/Q&A was written El Gordo cafe has changed hands & Megan (former owner/curator/journalist/radio presenter/film maker) assures us that Mike and Sara are equally excited and passionate about continuing the tradition of El Gordo's outdoor gallery space :) The full Q&A with Megan will be posted on Wednesday.

Photographs of some of Kelly's pieces in Chancery Lane by Megan Spencer

How did you first become involved in the lane way art in Chancery Lane?
I first came across it through El Gordo cafe's Facebook page about the Ground Level project and saw how La Trobe University Art students were taking up paste ups. I immediately jumped at the chance and contacted Megan at El Gordo and the City of Greater Bendigo Council to be a part of it. There are two different sections. The car park end is council owned so anyone, at any time can pop their own art up there. The El Gordo end is curated by Megan and artworks are carefully selected so it is more like a unique outside gallery. 
Can you explain to someone who has never been involved with street art & paste ups (aka me!) the process of a piece from start to finish?

I had actually never attempted street art before or knew anything really about the process, so my pieces have been different. A couple were just images from op shop picture books on a whim, whilst others have been created from my illustrations.  I usually just draw straight onto plain copy paper. Or, to reflect my mixed media aesthetics and style, I sometimes use a thin medium such as photocopies, paper doilies, playing cards or even fabric. I then cut out the piece and place it against the wall. I use basic wall paper glue which can be purchased from a hardware store to adhere the piece. It does make a fair amount of glue, so it’s a good idea to create a bigger piece or get a group together. Depending on where the work is placed, it will receive some damage from the weather. Usually the wall paper glue is a pretty decent sealant, and doesn’t leave a residue on the top. I guess it’s part of creating street art; it will never stay the same and is part of this genre of art. 

How many pieces have you had in Chancery Lane? Are they planned or spontaneous?

I have about seven pieces in the lane way. My first one was created using mixed media and text towards the car park end where I also spontaneously popped some Peter Rabbit pages. The El Gordo end has been mostly planned specifically for that area, such as the Grace Kelly image [which was commissioned to coincide with the exhibition]. A couple of the images I have placed near El Gordo have been part of certain events including the `Paste Up Party' that was held with local artists.

Photographs from Kelly's blog...cakes from the Pennyweight Gallery launch & `Wonderful Things' zine from her online store

Tell me about Megan you met and work you have done together.

I first met Megan a few years ago at a media workshop that was held by YO Bendigo, a program I have worked closely with for quite a long time. Then it just evolved from there. I ended up being able to be a part of El Gordo’s first group art exhibition before having my own exhibition with them last year. Things have just continued from there, including attending the café’s events, blogging and taking photos of my adventures in the lane way.

I'd love to hear about your involvement with `A Walk on the Art Side'...

`A Walk on the Art Side' was a program with the members and volunteers of Bendigo Tourism, visiting various local art precincts & learning about them via talks and tours. I had previously been part of a talk/workshop with Crusoe College students about street art, and was also a mentor at the `Paste Up Party' for El Gordo. As a result of this I was lucky enough to be part of the Chancery Lane section of `A Walk on the Art Side.'  So it has been quite a journey from not knowing much about the lane way art, and just admiring it, to actually being in the centre hub of it.

Photographs from Kelly's blog...some of her creations and afternoon tea on her travels

Photographs from Kelly's blog...some of her creations and afternoon tea on her travels

Tell me about your blog, The Tea Children...

I started my blog when I was 18 (2008), so I have been blogging 5 years as of this year. I started it to basically keep an archive of things I do in the arts world. I also wanted a website, but having no money to do that sort of thing (and no idea about websites and their codes) I stumbled upon blogging and haven’t looked back. The connections have been amazing. I have become “friends” in a sense with lots of great artistic and like-minded people on the internet, and it has become a great promotional tool also.

Who are the Tea Children? (I have a photo of a sweet little character with pink hair in the lane way…would that be one of them?)

I needed a name that had a unique sound for my blog/art adventures and this one stuck in my head for a while before putting it into play. I had liked picture books, little drawings, creating characters and designing little stories and names. The “tea” came up through my love of tea and tea drinking. I would make a cuppa and get to sketching little imaginary people. So since then it has stuck. You may find some of these characters in Chancery Lane, such as the little girl with pink hair. I relate to the Tea Children as an imaginary dream land in my head with lots of little creatures. It does, I guess, feel like more than one person working it all. Ha-ha :)

What projects are you working on currently? (asked back in April )

At the moment I am currently working on a large scale piece for the Pennyweight Lane Open Air Gallery (off Bath Lane) which is another new street art aspect in Bendigo. The art will be changed every 18 months. There are 12 artists involved this time round, and the new works will be up from the end of April. Apart from that I am continually blogging about all sorts of things and am always looking for new inspiration and ideas where possible. 

Kelly Robson's piece in the Pennyweight Lane Open Air Gallery

What's your favourite thing about Bendigo in Winter?

Waking up to a rainy day and staying curled up in bed. But there's also nothing better than taking out your umbrella and locating a café for a pot of tea and delicious cake or even a hot chocolate or chai. I love a lot of the café’s in Bendigo. I like to try different ones each visit. Changing the atmosphere is a good thing. I also love going to the cinema, coming out of the film to find it had rained and it’s now dark out instead of light. I also like browsing book stores in the colder weather.

Thanks for being part of my Q&A Kelly! Be sure to head on down to check out the pieces by Kelly & other artists in our local lane ways. Kelly's blog is definitely worth subscribing to as well...I've learned so much about creative happenings in Bendigo by reading through her archives...and of course one of my favourite things is when she posts about where she's been for tea and cake lately :) She also sells her creations in her online store.

You might also like: When Nothing is Straight (Q&A with Tamara Marwood) and Playing Tourist.