September 24, 2009

Today I began work on our sign:


& I upholstered a chair:


I think it turned out quite nice,


& Totoro seems to agree:


We found five of these chairs on the street and fixed them up, and the fabric came from op-shop Friday at the church down the road from my house. I still have four to upholster, so I am going to use different fabric on each one. It is very comfortable to sit on because it has much more padding than a regular chair!


teaNA program

September 24, 2009

This is it… same information, slightly more pleasing to the eye:

teaNA program

…& for anyone wondering where to find the tea house, it’s just a short walk from Newcastle train station. We’re on the corner of Hunter and Morgan Streets, in the Hunter Street Mall.



September 23, 2009

I’m working on our program of events for TINA next weekend and having a lot of trouble trying to fit it all onto a flyer. We’re hosting some NYWF roundtable discussions as well as the world’s first ‘Disco Lecture’, and a 140th birthday party for the postcard! Well, here it is… flyer is coming soon:


Friday, October 2nd

5.00 – 8.00pm: Opening Night Party!!

5.30 – 6.30pm: You Can’t Stop The Musing The philosophy of disco with Craig Schuftan

White pants, mirroballs, dancing while pointing at the floor – everybody knows Disco is fun. But is it good for you? For many, in the seventies, Disco represented the last word in mass-produced trash – moronic music made by robots for robots. For others, it was a solitary ray of humanist hope in a world that was rapidly going to the dogs. Now that Disco is back (trust us, it is), the time has come to determine, once and for all, whether it’s part of the problem or part of the solution. Triple j’s Craig Schuftan – author of The Culture Club and Hey! Nietzsche! Leave them Kids Alone – presents the case for and against in You Can’t Stop the Musing – the world’s first Disco-lecture. Expect to hear from The Silver convention, The Chic Organisation and the Frankfurt School, and don’t be surprised if you start doing that which both Theodor Adorno and the adherents of the Disco Sucks movement considered an impossibility – thinking and dancing.

6.45 – 7.15pm: Maddy Phelan plays Indie-Breaky Heart

7.30 – 8.00pm: Bicarb & Vinegar


Wonder Chamber: a collection of the curious, wondrous, and whimsical, featuring: 7U?, Textaqueen, Emily Hasselhoof, Leigh Rigozzi, Helen Nehill, Neil Tomkins, Ace Wagstaff, Chris Tamm, Kake Geck, and Licky the Cream… (until Nov 6th)

zine launch: ‘This is the [second] stupidest tea party I’ve ever been to in all my life’


Saturday, October 3rd

11.00 – 12.30pm: Space Invaders: DIY and Artist-Run Festivals and Spaces (NYWF Roundtable discussion)

No budget is the way of the future. DIY spaces bring people together, creating an explosion of ideas and action: real social networking, people. Hear true stories and get valuable advice on setting up spaces and running whole festivals with just enough money to buy a shoestring. Featuring: Ianto Ware, Guy Sterling, Danielle Bentley, Susy Pow, Maddy Phelan, and Natalie Aylward.


Sunday, October 4th

4.30 – 5.30pm: Curatorial How-To (NYWF Roundtable discussion)

Wranglers, hoarders, dropouts, show-offs, very talented circle of friends! Wanna figure out how to get all gallery on that shit? CURATORIAL is part of NYWF’s new series of informal, abnormal, but very, very practical roundtable how-tos. Featuring: Ianto Ware, Anthony WP O’Sullivan, Lev Diatschenko, Nimble Fox Trappings, Emily McCulloch Childs, Maddy Phelan, and Natalie Aylward.

6.00 –  7.00pm: The One Hundred and Fortieth Birthday of the Postcard

Participate in the collective penning and posting of 140 postcards plus eating cake and other regular birthday party activities. The event will double as a book launch for ‘from sometimes love beth’ a postcard compendium by Beth Sometimes.

Presented by Beth Sometimes: misssometimes@gmail.com


Monday, October 5th

Come rest your weary head as we serve up some hot brews and cool tunes.

Let’s just take it easy today.



September 22, 2009

Here are a few photos of the shop, taken by Carli Hyland (thank you!). We’d just moved some furniture in and were making a list – our opening is less than two weeks away and there is still so much work to be done.

Oh, I may as well mention that we’re after a nice rug if you have one to spare?

totoro_tea_house_lr-13What a mess! These windows open right up and let in the breeze. It’s a very charming place to sit.



totoro_tea_house_lr-8We are very busy! We will be removing those benches and repainting the wall over the next week, ready to hang our opening exhibition.

Definitely Famous

September 15, 2009

A few weeks back we were mentioned in an article here on the TIME magazine blog  and another here on Reuters. Both articles are discussing economic downturn and the commercial real estate market, and speak about Renew Newcastle.

Opening a teahouse on a 30-day lease is risky stuff and so we get a mention for that reason mostly… Oh, and because people are excited by what we are doing and they want to hang out and quaff some tea. It might be a huge risk but it’s also a huge adventure and we’re both learning so much through this experience.

Getting a mention on those blogs came as a huge surprise and we were a bit unprepared, so now we’re making an effort to keep this up-to-date and interesting!

Tea Cup

Dinosaurs, rawwrr!

September 7, 2009

We’re going to the Tyrannosaurus show at ARThive on SATURDAY night – if you’re in Newcastle you should come too!

Details here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=98798831331&ref=ts


September 4, 2009

We are finally opening (for real!!) so come along to meet us, check out the space, and sip some tea. We’ll have a great exhibition featuring some of our most talented friends, and entertainment from Craig Schuftan and possibly Mickey Gloss. We hope so!!

During TINA [This Is Not Art] (October 1st – 5th) we’ll be hosting a few different events too, including the discussions on gender, curation, a comic jam, and the Ministry of Post. So if you can’t make it to our opening drop by throughout TINA for a chocolate rooibos tea.


Group launch party night!

August 10, 2009

Time:                      5.30pm – 10.00pm

Project:                  Totoro’s Tea House

Location:               Shop 1, 111 Hunter St (Cnr Morgan St)

Event:                    Pre-opening party

Description:          With cupcakes and cups of tea by donation, this is a pre-opening party held in the space that will soon cocoon and grow into a colourful creature. Live acoustic set by Maddy Phelan and some totes hot tracks by special guest DJ Craig Schuftan (Triple J).

About:                    Totoro’s is a Tea House Gallery soon to be stocked with sumptuous sweets and fresh-brewed teas. We will be working hard during the month of August to fancy the place up, but we’d like to say hello to Newcastle and make some Renew friends.

Please come for a cup of tea or to shake your booty.

Hello. My name is Totoro. I am a tea house.

August 9, 2009

We are a new tea house opening soon as part of Renew Newcastle [www.renewnewcastle.org]

Want to know more? Read our profile:

Who are you?

More importantly, who is Totoro? (He is our rabbit friend). We are Maddy Phelan and Licky la Creme. We’re organisers of events such as zine fairs, art exhibitions and tea parties. We make zines, art, music and stories and now we are taking on a new identity: tea ladies! We come from another steel city but now we’re planning to live between three cities on the Eastern seaboard.

What do you do?

“We don’t DO, we just ARE!” …not really. that’s a quote from party monster. ❤  We DO like to serve tea, make new friends and transform spaces into inviting places. How do you do? We’re please to meet you.

What inspired you to get involved in Renew Newcastle?

We were headhunted by one of the project bigwigs via a social networking site. And we thought, well, why not be part of this crazy revolution? Who are we to stay in our quiet suburban bedrooms spending too much time on social networking sites? Also, our lovely friend opened a zine shop. The tea house was something we wanted to do for a while,  but until we heard of Renew Newcastle, it was never more than vague plans for some kind of monthly themed party. Now we’re doing it for realz!

What are you doing in your new space?

Making love – I mean tea. Tea with love. Tea with scones and jam and cream. Afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, Turkish tea with a side of hommus and tabbouli, chai tea with spice biscuits. We’re also exhibiting artwork by all your favourite zine kids and indie darlings as well as displaying some curious objects that may prick your interest. We want this to be a space where you come to read a book, practice the lost art of conversation, work on your upcoming zine, do your homework, cross-stitch in the corner, or bring a group of your favourite friends for a tea party.

Tell us about the space – what was its previous use? Anything unique about it? Your response to the space?

It used to be a trendy juice bar, catering to all sorts of juice-drinkers. Juice recently suffered a fall in popularity, and tea enthusiasts have taken this opportunity to gain a foothold in the beverage market. It’s a very commercial space, fitted out with tiles and stainless steel, but we’re hoping to make it a bit more welcoming.

Opening soon! Group launch is Saturday, August 15th.

Tea Arrangement