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Kōtuku Studio


If anyone was in any doubt that Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, Gisborne is a hotbed of creative talent, they only need to do a count on the ever-growing number of artist-run spaces around town, to realise there must be something in the claim…


Kõtuku Studios is the most recent addition, joining the enclave of community-enhancing enterprises at the southern end of Palmerston Road. Tucked in between Bakery 22 and Dancefit Studios on one side, and Tairāwhiti Environment Centre and Gizzy Kai Rescue on the other, Kōtuku Studios is the whare of the creative businesses of Merle Walker - Toi Biz and Jody Tupara - Toi Tupara.


Originally the two friends were looking for some studio space to share, but happening upon this place with its white walls and polished concrete floors that lent itself so perfectly to a gallery, they realised that a gallery in which to share works of other local artists as well as their own, fit pretty seamlessly into their vision of a shared creative space. A couple of weeks of building, painting and enthusiastic support from friends and whānau later, Kōtuku Studios was born.


Merle Walker has been creating art since she was a teenager, and successfully selling pieces through her early 30’s. Art was put on the backburner due to medical reasons, and while she took some time with her children in Australia before moving to Te Tairāwhiti with partner Tyna Keelan. Upon landing here, Merle enrolled in the Toi Paematua course with Johnny Moetara at @Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in 2021 and continues to study there as she builds her skills and knowledge around toi.


Jody Tupara is perhaps best known for her large scale portraiture and digital prints. She also enjoys taking her art to clothing, and currently upcycles and paints denim jackets. She is grateful for the impetus and space Kōtuku Studios gives her to keep creating and to showcase her work as she juggles life with two beautiful children, full time work and studies.


Opening its doors a couple of weeks ago, most of the works on the walls of Kōtuku Studios reflect the relationships that the two have been formed whilst making art alongside each other and their peers at the Wānanga.


The pair are looking forward to continuing to work with other like minded people within our community, and sharing their space through workshops as well as exhibitions. Collaborations in the pipeline will see workshopping opportunities in various disciplines of toi from photography and printmaking to poetry writing, as they continue to develop their online print businesses and Merle, a series of team building workshops.


The current exhibition has works by Jody Tupara, Kathleen Dawson, @Sally McIntosh, Amanda Rutherford, Beka Melville, Merle Walker, Johnny Moetara, Raegan Dawson, Makahuri Thatcher-Wharehinga, Skye Pomana and Sam & Kushla Hodge. Jody and Merle are committed to showing the work of local artists, and are happy to host solo exhibitions also. Their aim is to create a friendly and supportive environment for people to show their work.


So if you’re looking for some artwork for your home or workplace, or as a gift, or are looking to exhibit some of your own work, head along for a visit! Merle and Jody are especially keen on meeting local potters!


Gallery Open Hours

Wednesdays, 12 - 5pm

Thursday, 11:30am - 5pm

Saturday, 10am - 2pm


For more information or to view by appointment kotukustudios@gmail.com


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