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Celebrating five years in business in Oamaru, Philina den Dulk has expanded her gallery Art on Tyne. Yesterday, she officially opened her new exhibition space “On the Freezer Wall”, in the adjoining historic freezer building, with an exhibition by local artist Matthew “Wicksey” Wicks. Rebecca Ryan asks her a few questions.

Q What was the inspiration behind Art on Tyne five years ago?

I’d been a full-time artist for a very long time, but kind of burnt myself out and discovered I had autoimmune conditions which meant being a full-time artist wasn’t ideal. I decided to reinvent my previous Gallery 36 Red, which had the same ethos, stocking only New Zealand made and created. Oamaru felt like the right place to reinvent and start again – and I’ve got a nice balance between creating and showcasing our New Zealand talent. My biggest focus is to keep my store unique, stocking pieces no-one else has in Oamaru. Keeping us just that little bit different is key.

Q How has your business grown and evolved over the past five years?

When I first moved into my space, it was tiny. Since then we have extended two times which has meant more opportunity to stock more wares and offer more exhibitions. I also think times are changing and people are becoming more conscious of buying New Zealand made.

Q How much time do you get to do your own art?

Oamaru artist Philina den Dulk. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Creating mostly happens after work, it’s a real juggle to make it all tick along nicely, but it seems to work. Some days aren’t pretty – but no reward comes easy.

Q Where did your passion for art come from?

I love that art is an expression of oneself. The fact that art is so diverse means that there is always something for everyone. I created in high school – luckily my teacher was Central Otago artist Nigel Brown. I never really painted again until I was pregnant with my fourth son. I desperately needed to do something for myself, and the rest is history. Over 10 years I was represented by lots of New Zealand galleries and have sold a lot of work throughout the country and overseas.

Q Tell me about the new “On the Freezer Wall” exhibition space.

The opportunity came up for me to take over the space next door, an amazing 100-year-old freezer. It will be used for exhibitions, art evenings and even pop-up shops. I am very lucky and extremely grateful. Local artist Matthew “Wicksey” Wicks is our first exhibition with his show Metamorphosis, and will be followed by Akaroa artist Deborah Fuller in December.