Do­ing what they love in Strat­ford

Stratford Press - - News -

The say­ing is ‘do what you love and you’ll never work an­other day in your life,’ and for the cou­ple be­hind the newly-opened Fen­ton Street Art Col­lec­tive, it could al­most be a mis­sion state­ment.

“We’ve set up a num­ber of very suc­cess­ful busi­nesses over the years, but ev­ery time we have ended up sell­ing them be­cause we wanted to fo­cus on our art rather than a busi­ness.”

Stu­art Green­hill says this time it will be dif­fer­ent for him and part­ner Jo Stal­lard.

“This is go­ing to be our last stop so to speak. The plan is once it is fully go­ing we will be able to let the busi­ness run it­self while we work in the stu­dio space up­stairs.”

The busi­ness is based around the things they love, with an espresso bar, an art gallery, a small gin dis­tillery and a bou­tique art re­tail area, with the fo­cus for all four ar­eas on qual­ity rather than quan­tity, says Jo.

“Our cof­fee and gin will be batch pro­duced, while the art on dis­play and for re­tail is care­fully sourced by us. You won’t find any­thing mass pro­duced here.”

While the cou­ple opened the doors to the pub­lic for the first time last week, the busi­ness has been there just un­der two years.

“We searched New Zealand for an old build­ing. Iron­i­cally it was in our home town that some­thing vi­able turned up. We knew what sort of busi­ness we wanted, and we knew we wanted a very spe­cific type of build­ing for it to be in.”

Jo says the old Till Hen­der­son King build­ing on Fen­ton Street was per­fect and they have spent the past two years turn­ing it into the Fen­ton Street Art Col­lec­tive.

“It’s got his­tory — it will be 100 years old in two years. We’ve tried to keep as much of the build­ing’s orig­i­nal style as pos­si­ble on the in­side.”

With old safes re­pur­posed into wardrobes and pantries, Jo and Stu­art have man­aged to make use of the quirky space that is both a busi­ness and a home.

Down­stairs is the espresso bar, which serves two roasts pro­vided by their daugh­ter’s roast­ery in New Ply­mouth.

“We have a medium and a dark roast on of­fer, but even­tu­ally we will be roast­ing our own beans here,” says Stu­art. They will be small batches, and change fre­quently.

Once a liquor li­cence is ac­quired, batches of gin will also be dis­tilled on the premises.

“We will be pair­ing the gins with a range of ton­ics, plat­ters and desserts. Peo­ple will be able to book in for a Fri­day night to also en­joy wine and craft beer, sur­rounded by art.”

The gallery mean­while has the first of what will be many ex­hi­bi­tions and Jo says she al­ready has sev­eral artists lined up for the fu­ture.

“Dur­ing the gar­den fes­ti­val we have work from Jenny Coker go­ing on dis­play. She is an in­ter­na­tional artist based in Tau­ranga who paints gor­geous botan­i­cal wa­ter­colours.”

Jo her­self has much of her art on the walls of her stu­dio up­stairs, while Stu­art uses part of the up­stairs space for writ­ing. His first novel, based partly in Strat­ford, is cur­rently in ne­go­ti­a­tion with a Lon­don pub­lisher and he is work­ing with a Welling­ton-based pho­tog­ra­pher on a book of po­etry.

Jo and Stu­art aren’t the first artists or writ­ers to make Strat­ford their home, and the town’s his­tory of cre­atives is some­thing they wanted to ac­knowl­edge some­how, says Stu­art.

“Strat­ford is much more than just a ser­vice town. It has been home to some great tal­ent through the years, and still is. Strat­ford writ­ers took out the

30-year an­niver­sary of Ron­ald Hugh Mor­rieson Awards last year, win­ning the short story and po­etry sec­tions. We have recog­nised this creative his­tory by putting the names of some ta­lented peo­ple on the stairs lead­ing up to our apart­ment and stu­dio space.”

In a nod to the build­ing’s con­struc­tion, the cou­ple com­mis­sioned a New Ply­mouth artist to cre­ate poster-style paint­ings, in the style of the

1920s, ad­ver­tis­ing tourist at­trac­tions in the area.

“We want peo­ple to stop off here when they are in Strat­ford and not just have a cof­fee, or see some art, but to be in­spired to ex­plore more of the area as well.”

■ Fen­ton Street Art Col­lec­tive: Fen­ton Street. Open 8am — 3pm, Mon­day to Thurs­day and Satur­day. Fri­day: open un­til late once liquor li­cence in place, Sun­days: open 9am — 3pm.

Jo Stal­lard and Stu­art Green­hill in the build­ing’s green space.

Amelia Lett is the man­ager of the espresso bar.

Some of the cre­atives who have made Strat­ford their home in the past have their names on the stairs in the build­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.