Staff at Whanganui's Sarjeant on the Quay Gallery were kept busy accepting entries for the 2020 pattillo Whanganui Arts Review on Tuesday.

Sarjeant events manager Raewyne Johnston said final numbers were to be confirmed but it was looking like there might be record entries this year.

"There was a queue when we opened at 10.30am and people have been flooding through the door with their submissions."

Many recognisable and established local artists were delivering their work to the gallery, as well as students and amateur artists of all ages and stages.

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The Whanganui Arts Review has been running for more than 30 years and is New Zealand's longest-running competition of its kind.

This year, the open entry competition is 32 years old.

In 2019, the Sarjeant Gallery entered a partnership with Anne Pattillo and her Wellington consultancy company pattillo, as principal sponsor.

The sponsorship means the winner of the open award, now named the Pattillo project, receives a $5000 (previously $2000) prize and a solo exhibition at the Sarjeant.

Glass artist and UCOL lecturer Dr Kathryn Wightman was the 2019 winner and her Digital Parent exhibition is showing at Sarjeant on the Quay until May 3.

The 2020 Whanganui Arts Review will also offer two excellence awards of $1000 each, sponsored by Dalgleish Architects, Article and Vernon Money Poppins as well as eight merit awards of $200 each, sponsored by Friends of the Sarjeant Gallery, River City Picture Framers, Recaffeinate, Renata's Art & Framing, Wanganui Garden Services, Edith Collier Trust, Whanganui River Markets Trust and Barnicoat & Healy.

Johnston said the cash prizes were always an incentive but the awards also carried some renown.

"There is a certain prestige in being able to say you've won a prize in this competition."

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The competition has been described as a great leveller, as many previous winners have had no formal art training.

Sarjeant Gallery relationships officer Jaki Arthur said there were only a few rules: contributing artists must have completed their work in the past 12 months, and live or work within in the Arts Review catchment region which includes Ruapehū, Rangitīkei and all areas that link to the Whanganui River.

"It is amazing to witness all the people arriving at the gallery, each with their own individual artwork generated out their own perspectives, feelings, concerns, sorrows, joys, obsessions, influences, lives. No two are the same. Guaranteed."

The selected works for the 2020 pattillo Whanganui Arts Review will be exhibited at the Sarjeant Gallery from Saturday, February 29, until May 18.