About 120 art teachers arrive in Whanganui today for the start of the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Art Educators (ANZAAE) conference.

The conference, held every two or three years, will be hosted by Whanganui UCOL today, tomorrow and Thursday.

ANZAAE president Lee Devenish said the conference was always held at a tertiary institute, usually in Auckland. The last one, in 2014, was held at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

"This is definitely the first time the conference has been held in Whanganui," Mr Devenish said.

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"It is easier to host a conference in a big city, but it's also important to recognise that there is a lot going on in regional parts of New Zealand."

Mr Devenish told the Wanganui Chronicle he had never been to Whanganui, and he was looking forward to getting to know the place.

The conference delegates come from as far away as Dunedin, and include primary, secondary and tertiary art teachers, as well as gallery educators. Mr Devenish said the majority of delegates were secondary school teachers.

He said art teachers faced particular challenges, especially school teachers.

"It's important to have a conference like this, because art teachers are often sole charge, so they can be quite isolated. There's often very little support for art teachers."

Mr Devenish said most art teachers felt a tension between their teaching profession and their art profession.

"The job of being a teacher has increased, and it's a lot harder to be a working artist as well now.

"I've been a teacher for 12 years - in the first few years I was still having solo shows. I can't do that now," Mr Devenish said.

"I couldn't really call myself an artist now."

For more information on the conference, visit the conference website.