A portrait in a rather unusual medium was the winner of this year's Whanganui Arts Review.

Mark Rayner's Self Portrait - a hand-hooked woollen rug - won the open award and a prize of $2000. Mr Rayner, who has made his name as a ceramicist, told the Wanganui Chronicle he's been making the portraits for about two years.

It's an involved process. Mr Rayner begins with, in the case of Self Portrait, a photo that he photoshopped. "I converted the photo into a pattern and then I chose the colours, which is the exciting bit."

It took him around 40 hours to make the portrait, painstakingly pulling wool through a canvas with a special hooking tool.

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"I love the process of it. When you're making the rug it's quite repetitive but also quite calming."

Mr Rayner enters the review every year and has previously won a merit award.

"I didn't expect to win anything. It's very exciting."

The other winners were Frances Stachl, David Murray and Tia Ranginui (highly commended); James Graves (youth award); Matt Dutton, Paul Rayner, Sophie Taylor, Kaye Coombs, Catherine Sleyer, Andrea Gardner and Debbie Hahn (merit). The exhibition is on at the Sarjeant Gallery until June 5.