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Contender . . . North Otago Art Society president Jeff Armstrong?s painting of a scene from the coast road between Kakanui and Waianakarua (top right) hangs alongside the other 50 works in the exhibition. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

Art-lovers are in for a treat.

The North Otago Art Society’s biennial exhibition in memory of its late life member and patron Colin Wheeler opens at its Customs House premises tomorrow.

The exhibition features works from members only, but that doesn’t mean they are just from Oamaru. Society president Jeff Armstrong said the 85 members include some as far away as Wellington and Dunedin.

Fifty-one paintings are hung on the downstairs walls in the Customs House, ensuring no accessibility problems for visitors.

A prizegiving will be held tonight before the exhibition is opened to the public until March 29.

All the works are for sale.

“We are all amateurs – none of us make a living from our painting,” Mr Armstrong said.

“This is the only place around where amateurs can hang their work, have it seen by the public, get it critiqued, and sell it.”

Most galleries charged a commission and only accepted work from known professional artists, he said.

“It’s a Catch-22.”

Art from the Customs House, which is open four days a week, has been sold to people from Russia, the United States, Germany, and Britain in recent times.

with visiting tutors and a group of members meet at the Customs House on Tuesdays to paint together.

Discussion sessions were also being instituted on Tuesdays, Mr Armstrong said.

“We would love to get more younger members.”

He acknowledged the importance of art in challenging society’s norms, but said most members wanted to portray “beauty, truth and goodness”.