Inside a home-turned-gallery café: A nomadic couple return to Stratford and launch the Fenton Street Arts Collective and distillery
Arts Collective Website stencils merro berry
Arts Collective Website stencils merro berry

Jo Stallard and Stuart Greenhill have been around long enough to know the only accolade worth coveting comes from people that don't require mass nor media to tell them what to do or think - that is why the subjectivity of ART is their indulgence. In 2016 they searched for a historic building to restore and turn into an Arts Collective. They found 11 Fenton Street in Stratford and almost two years later Fenton Street Art Collective had come into being.

Jo and Stuart, grew up in the small rural Taranaki town of Stratford. In their early 20s they left their house in Waitara with their children Christopher and Adrianna, to study art at Canterbury University before embarking on careers in teaching English, Art History and Classical Studies, with Jo also teaching Drama back in Taranaki, this time New Plymouth. Utilising Stuart's Diploma of Horticulture that he gained following high school, the couple also spent time growing erica and boronia plants on their Brixton property for export to Japan.

Jo Jo in her studio at Fenton street 2019 2

A move to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty saw Jo and Stuart, alongside Stuart's brother, purchase the Deckchair - "the worst cafe and re-creating it" in 2007. Three years later after selling up, they were on the move again, this time to the Marlborough Sounds to write and paint before spending a year in Chiang Mai.

A return to Tauranga in 2013 had the couple approached to help design the interior of a complex development, 'Quantum Vis Eatery' which kept them there for three years until a new project drew them back to Taranaki.

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Jo comes from an art history background and is a portrait artist. She works in the traditional painting technique of "grisaille" or "dead painting" to traverse the landscapes of the human face and body. Those are the landscapes she loves. People come to the Collective, grab a coffee or gin from downstairs and visit Jo's working studio upstairs - and maybe even chat about a commission.

When he's not distilling their award winning gin, you can find Stuart in his writing den. A lover of poetry, prose and now a published novelist, Stuart has worked to finish his first novel Dante Fog, which was published in 2020. Covid-19 allowed him time to finish his passion.

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