Gallery lifelong dream

A South Otago couple are about to realise a long-held dream, by opening a boutique art gallery this weekend.

Paretai husband and wife Peter and Beth Linklater have harboured a lifelong passion for art but, like many artists, have had to push their creative ambitions aside in the pursuit of everyday life.

A farmer and horticulturist, Mr Linklater said he had painted landscapes since he was a young man, as an escape from the daily toil.

"I worked most of my life in farming, and did painting part-time in between whiles.

"In the early 1990s, we came to work here at the former Paretai Cheese Factory, which was a tulip bulb farm by then.

"Well, after about 10 years, we had a chance to buy the property, so we did."

Former horticulturists Beth and Peter Linklater prepare for the weekend opening of their new art...
Former horticulturists Beth and Peter Linklater prepare for the weekend opening of their new art gallery in the former Paretai Cheese Factory, near Balclutha, yesterday. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

Since that time, Mrs Linklater said, the pair had been cultivating a heritage fruit tree orchard and free range chickens, while quietly nurturing ambitions to establish a gallery in the factory buildings, which lie beside the Clutha River.

"About 15 years ago I went to a mixed media workshop in Balclutha, and I was immediately hooked," Mrs Linklater said.

"Since then, we’ve both had the idea in our head we might start a gallery one day."

She said when taking lunch in the bulb farm’s smoko room 25 years ago, she had no inkling it would one day become an outlet for her and her husband’s creations.

"It was a laboratory for the cheese factory, then a smoko room. We have lots of good laughs and nice memories from back then, so it’s a real pleasure to get to share the space with people as a gallery now."

Mrs Linklater said the couple did not expect to become millionaires from their new endeavour, christened the Art Nuggets Gallery after the noted Catlins landmark.

"A lot of our art is inspired by local landscapes and nature, from the Catlins north. We just want to get our art out there, and hope others can appreciate it as much as we enjoy making it.

"We want to keep the passion going."

The gallery, at 34 Factory Rd, near Balclutha, opens to visitors on Sunday, then daily, year round.


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