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For Philina Den Dulk, Oamaru used to be that place you drove through on the way to somewhere else. But after moving here eight years ago and establishing her business Art on Tyne, the North Otago town now has her heart.

Oamaru – a treasure right by the sea, with loads of friendly, smiley faces.

To be honest, it’s a place I never ever would’ve expected to be living.

A born and bred Southland girl, Oamaru was the place you drove through while holidaying up north and never actually stopped in.

We arrived in Oamaru almost eight years ago, with my husband’s work bringing us here.

It also seemed like a great place for our four boys to smash out their most important schooling years.

As for me . . . I could take my work anywhere.

Being a fulltime artist I felt right at home. I instantly secured a work studio in the Woolstore at a mere $15 per week – how ridiculously cheap for such a beautiful space in the heart of the Victorian precinct.

Imagine the cost of a space like that in Auckland.

As an artist I simply never dreamt of it – or that I could afford it.

I went on to meet many amazing local artists like Donald Paterson, and that led me to a stint at the Crucible Gallery and then a few years at Steampunk HQ.

But I wanted more. I missed my creative side and being among the art scene.

Over my 15-odd years of being a fulltime artist I had made some amazing artist connections, which meant I had enough artists to pull together for another gallery in Oamaru.

Hunting for a space was the easy bit. I actually just picked a window I liked, approached the owners and the rest, as they say, is history.

Art on Tyne was established in November 2014.

The beauty of being able to grow a business in Oamaru is that it is affordable.

I have amazing landlords who have had their business here for 30-odd years. They understand Oamaru, and business, and they give me every opportunity to succeed.

I truly am blessed and I think in this day and age it is something to be treasured and respected.

It’s been almost five years since I opened my dream space, working for myself creating and selling my own work, as well as sticking to my ethos of selling only New Zealand made and created.

It’s bloody hard work, especially the long summer months of seven days a week.

But it is absolutely rewarding.

I believe in supporting fellow businesses and everyone doing their own thing.

Sticking to your core business and doing it well is the key in Oamaru. Establish your identity and roll with it.

Since opening Art on Tyne, we have continued to grow. We’ve extended the space once and we are about to embark on our next extension – which excites me so much – to offer an exhibition space.

There are so many amazing things in the pipeline, and I couldn’t imagine doing it anywhere other than Oamaru.

As a family, we have moved from one end of New Zealand to the other and I can honestly say Oamaru is truly the first place I feel my heart is content.

Oamaru – you truly are the gold at the end of the rainbow.