Maker: Kelsie Allan
Craft: Mandala and Zentangle artworks on wood and paper.
Objects: chopping boards, cards, t-shirts, prints and paintings
I meet Kelsie in Creative Village Newcastle pop-up store in Charlestown Square, where she has been part of the store as a maker for about six months. Kelsie is a mandala artist (mandala - a circular figure representing the universe in Buddhist or Hindu symbolism) and I am struck by her musical, infectious laugh and warm, engaging personality. Kelsie is always wearing flowers, whether it be in her hair or on her dress fabric - she exudes life and love.
Like many creative mothers, Kelsie's time during the week is split between her work as a primary school teacher, raising her two kids - a 5 yr old boy and a 7yr old girl -and she also manages to work in Creative Village over the weekends. Like many of us, she feels the pull of her creative activities concurrent with the demands of spending time with her kids and her husband. Kelsie has a very musical background. Kelsie speaks fondly of her father who is Scottish and her mother who lived in a Kibbutz in Israel in her twenties. Following her Mum's lead, Kelsie travelled in her twenties, living in London for about 1.5 years but came back to Australia to be with her family and friends.
Like many Australians, 2020 was a very busy year for the Allan family. Time flew but Kelsie now has her own space at home to create. She clearly loves it as a oasis and escape and despite loving her family endlessly, there is always the desire to spend more time there. This year, Kelsie plans to be combining some time teaching English as a second language with spending time in the Creative Village shop. Creatively, Kelsie is planning more original work and hopes to expand into new projects like sea creatures and commission single artworks.
As we chat, I wonder how Kelsie started with mandala art. She tells me it was a chat with a counsellor who gave Kelsie a notebook with lovely paper which reminded her how she enjoyed the calming, peaceful nature of drawing and the joy of feeling her pen on the papers. This joy stemmed from completing a lot of scrapbooking and jigsaws when she was younger as well as patchwork quilts - piecing things together. A self-confessed jigsaw ninja, Kelsie recently finished a 1500 piece jigsaw in about 6 hours.
In Kelsie's artwork, I can see a love of aboriginal art and a deep respect for the Australia she calls home. Zentangled artwork influences have also come together in the pursuit of mindfulness and the calming activity of letting an artwork absorb you. I marvel at the depth and detail in her work and how she uses no templates or plan on the mandalas, whatever her mind feels like doing at the time - the artwork just evolves and unveils itself.
Kelsie recently completed some large scale mural artworks at the school she teaches at. The artworks promote the schools values and are interactive, like the one pictured in the photo above. Kelsie would love to do some more original canvases, they are her passion. She starts in one corner as she can't see the whole thing from the start. Working in groups, Kelsie feels her way through when the contrast needs to change and when she feels how the pieces need to fit together.
Which artwork are you most proud of?
I really love the gum leaves and my kookaburras. Patterns come to mind and I fit them together like puzzle pieces.
You obviously love Australian flora and fauna. What are your influences and where do you get your inspiration from?
This is the thing! I am mostly asked to make something for others which I love to do. Sometimes I'm surprised that I can do things I wouldn't normally do but it flows from a request. It starts out as something, a plan and then builds from making something for someone else.
What is your end game - your goals for your creative life?
Always to continue exploring this creative path, dedicating more time to it and to see where it goes in the future. Maybe exploring workshops, original artworks and larger works as opportunities come up.
You can contact Kelsie at Creative Village Newcastle
Blog post - 9th January 2021