Whanganui artist Kathryn Wightman has won the Whanganui Arts Review open award for the second year in a row.

Wightman, better known as a glass artist, this year entered a life-sized bust of her two-year-old son Austin, created with a 3D printer using a scanned image, and accompanied by a smaller gold-painted version.

The open award is worth $5000 and Wightman is also the first recipient of the pattillo project, a solo artist showcase exhibition at the Sarjeant Gallery in 2020, sponsored by Wellington consultancy pattillo.

Sarjeant Gallery relationships officer Jaki Arthur said about 320 people attended the Arts Review opening, held at the War Memorial Centre on Friday, March 8.

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Speakers included mayor Hamish McDouall, gallery director Greg Anderson and co-director of pattillo Maree Maddock.

Announcing the awards, Arts Review judge Andrew Clifford, of Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in Auckland, said Wightman was an artist with an established practice who continued to push into new territory and to explore new approaches.

"This work uses digital technology, not to finesse something into an unnatural perfection, but to look at the qualities of being digital," Clifford said.

"The resulting artefacts, glitches and gridded frameworks allow the object to break down in interesting ways that play with scale and materiality to question the kind of scaffolding we use to construct images and objects."

Excellence awards of $1000 each were presented to Rick Rudd for his earthenware Teapot (Dalgleish Architects Excellence Award) and Glen Hayward for his wood, paint and resin work Fountain Solomon Guggenheim New York 2017 (Central City Pharmacy Excellence Award).

Rose Hird's acrylic Rohi won the WDC Youth Committee Youth Recognition Award of $200.

Frances Stachl used pruned tree branches, collected, stored, handsawn, sanded and drilled for her entry If Not Now, Then When? which won the Friends of the Sarjeant Gallery Merit Award of $200.

Other merit awards worth $200 were won by Andrea du Chatenier for her ceramic work Signal (sponsored by Recaffeinate), Catherine Sleyer for The Blue Boy - cyanotype on Fabriano paper (Renata's Art & Framing), Rita Dibert for Mousewheel: Contemporary Life - photography (Rivercity Picture Framers), Emily Wrigglesworth for Kowhai Yellow - watercolour (Wanganui Garden Services), Thompson Kiwikiwi for Kupapa or Kaupapa? - natural ochres and acrylic paint (The Whanganui River Markets Trust) and Keiran Donnelly for Objects for a Modern World - brass, iron, puriri wood (WHMilbank Gallery).

The finalists' work is open for viewing at Sarjeant on the Quay. The exhibition runs until May 12.