We caught up with Kellie Lawler, Events Coordinator of Frouteville – one pretty special community arts Festival! Set in regional Victoria, this sustainable and community minded approach to Festival making is what we love to see and hear about. Good folk coming together, doing good things!
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do? My name is Kellie Lawler. I live in Bruthen, a small town in the far east of Victoria. I grow flowers and a bit of food, have 2 small kids and hang with other like-minded people in a community arts collective called F.INC East Gippsland.
What is Frouteville? Frouteville is F.INC’s annual community and arts festival. Frouteville was named after the arts group (f)route (later becoming F.INC), whom started the event in 2013 at a small Winery in Nicholson. (f)route began simply from the conversations of artists and doers that knew that where they lived was special, and that art had the ability to make East Gippsland viable, economically and socially. Frouteville is the event to celebrate it all – our food, art + making, community, good conversation + activism. And it is a lot of fun.
What is your role at Frouteville? I have always tried to do something for Frouteville. But earlier this year I was lucky to help facilitate the event and I took on the main coordinator role for the 2018 Frouteville. There isn’t much time between finishing one festival and moving onto the next. I had to decide pretty quickly if I was up for the big job. But once I decided to take it on, I sat down and had a play with ideas, what I would like to see and do at a community and arts festival. This, it turns out, was so enjoyable. There was something very childish and delightful in dreaming up wonderful stuff to see and do. But now it is all doing, having meetings and finalising that fun stuff I first imagined. I have a great team of people with a range of skills, and whom all love playing too.
How did you get involved? I literally found a scrap of a postcard which (f)route had published. It talked of its values and the importance of local. However, underpinning it all there was art. I was fascinated, and carried this postcard around until I found them set up at Orbost, and got chatting.
What kinds of ideas and things are you working on at the moment? There is large art project, FLOAT, happening in Lake Tyers Beach. It is part of the Small Town Transformation project by Regional Arts Victoria. FLOAT are building a floating artist in residence (gasp!). But as a side project, the town is inviting us to make small artworks inspired by Lakes Tyers Beach. I have started looking at the beach shacks that still dot the area, of which I will make small embroideries.
How does where you grew up and where you live now affect your art / practice? As suggested above, the far east of Victoria affects A LOT about the event and why there was this strong drive to create the festival. On a different note, Regional Victoria is plagued by boredom and, I suppose, complacency and it just doesn’t need to be like that. I remember hearing Andrea Lane, a founding member of (f)route, say a strong influence of hers was that she hates seeing people bored, and that resonated with me.
Please describe the space where you do most of your creating / spend most of your time? My family no longer eats at the dinner table. I’ll leave it there.
Do you have a ritual for getting in work mode (music you listen to, certain exercise, food you eat) aka a productivity tip? Taking strolls through my garden. And a swept floor. I don’t mind dirty dishes, but I do like a clean floor.
Which artists/thinkers/creatives are you obsessed with at the moment? Jill Hermans is a jeweler that lives in Clifton Creek. Her approach, ethics, grace and, as a result, her product is amazing.
What do you enjoy doing when not creating art / working / making stuff happen? I am a gardener. That is my go to every time. I create gardens with mismatched pattern, clashing colours, hostile textures but mesmerizing none the less.
What is your absolute favourite thing to do? I love reading awesome adventure stories to my kids. Or board games. I love a board game night.
Do you have fingers in many pies, or are focussed on one single project / goal? I am also working on Bruthen Blues and Arts Festival. Again, it is a wonderful volunteer committee of committed folk wanting the best for their town.
What tips can you share about being aware of your impacts on the world? I don’t think I have anything amazingly different to offer… I buy 90% 2nd hand, avoid fast fashion, limit packaging on all foods etc. Importantly to me is that Frouteville is seen as a sustainable festival, as well as promoting our art and makers. We do a breakfast and a community dinner at the event which only uses real crockery and cutlery. The dishes at the end are colossal – but worth it. We banned straws, we had a wash station to encourage food stalls to have real crockery as well and our coffee merchant had re-useable coffee cups for purchase. Our bins were practically empty, it was wonderful!
What is success? Remaining happy and joyful through it all (or it ain’t worth it)
What is the next step for you? What does the future hold? I would like to do Frouteville one more time. Each year I learn so much; helping decisions come a lot quicker and realising what can work and what doesn’t. So, pretty much after March next year, I’ll be starting work on the next one!
Where can we find and follow you? Frouteville and F.INC East Gippsland are on FB. I think there is also Instagram, but I can’t keep up. Website is: www.finc.org.au/frouteville
What’s the best or the worst advice you’ve ever received? Go here for the best 23 tips to kickstart art in your community by (f)route (and FLOAT) lady Andrea Lane. I love it!
Interview by Belinda Suzette.