THE UK’s leading artist-organised festival of printmaking smashed all records on its return this year after a two year gap due to the pandemic.

There were more than 2,000 visitors over the four-day event last weekend, at The Coro, in Ulverston which was a ten per cent increase on 2019.

The 44 artists sold more than £73,000 of their work, a 30 per cent increase on 2019, 120 Friends signed up for membership, a 76 per cent increase, and there were 20 awards, including six new ones for 2022.

Printfest chair, Sally Bamber, said: “People turned up in big numbers, probably as they had waited for three years to enjoy this festival of affordable art.

“The sheer joy of walking into the festival where there were a large number of artists clearly passionate about their work, energetically discussing printmaking techniques with visitors, many of whom chose an artwork to take home and enjoy.”

For the first time, Printfest had a main sponsor, financial advisers, Canter Holland. Managing director Karel Jacobs said: “Congratulations to the whole Printfest Team for making this year’s Printfest the best so far!

The Mail: TURN OUT: The preview evening of Printfest on April 29TURN OUT: The preview evening of Printfest on April 29

“In these difficult and somewhat dark times, this endeavour, kindness, and community spirit provides a glimmer of hope for us all.

“We are delighted to have been the inaugural main sponsor of Printfest 2022. Bring on Printfest 2023!”

As well as the main exhibition at The Coro, there were 20 venues across Ulverston taking part in Fringe events at: cafés, restaurants, home-wear shops, fashion shops, businesses, galleries, picture-framers, holistic therapies and a museum.

There were four printmaking workshops at Printfest over the weekend delivered by tutors who are members of Cumbria Printmakers. Print Share is also offering four printmaking workshops on consecutive Saturdays starting on Saturday, May 14.

Printfest also engaged with 22 primary and secondary schools, whose art filled the staircase walls at the Coro. Two even received Visitors’ Choice votes.

One of the award winners was Gail Mason from Bristol who was voted by her peers to be Printmakers’ Printmaker for the 2023 event, which will be held from April 27 – 30, at the Coro.

She said: “Oh, my word!! So over the moon to be voted the Printmakers’ Printmaker at Printfest.

The Mail: WINNER: Printmakers’ Printmaker award winner Gail MasonWINNER: Printmakers’ Printmaker award winner Gail Mason

“Thank you so much Printfest team for an amazing event, created with so much care and attention to detail by people who are so passionate about what they love. What a joy to be there.”

James Cropper sponsors the Visitors’ Choice award. Their winner, Jenny McCabe from Lancaster, said: “It was so wonderful to be back out talking to people about all things printmaking and showing my work.

“Everything is brand new and made in the last few months after waiting two years for Printfest to happen due to Covid cancellations.”

Printfest has been held annually since 2001, at The Coro, formerly Coronation Hall, Ulverston, except for a break in 2016 and the two pandemic years.

The Mail: SMILES: Visitors' Choice award winner Jenny McCabe presented by Richard Dancy of James CropperSMILES: Visitors' Choice award winner Jenny McCabe presented by Richard Dancy of James Cropper

It is dedicated to the exhibition and sale of contemporary hand-made prints by some of the most renowned printmakers in the UK and beyond.

Printfest offers visitors the experience of purchasing artworks direct from the artists. There is also the opportunity to talk to the artist, hear the story behind the work and find out more about printmaking. The artist also gets to hear why you as a visitor have responded to it.

The Award winners in full:

Awagami Paper Award Winner: Rahil Sheikh, London
For his powerful story-telling images

Cranfield Inks Award Winner 1st: Mark Pearce, Ravenglass, Cumbria
For ‘Sunshine and Seagulls’,
“I can actually hear the seagulls and imagine myself moving those few feet to the left so that the boat would protect me from the setting sun – wonderful” Michael Craine

Cranfield Inks Award Winner 2nd: Alexandra Buckle, Bicester
For ‘Landing’
“Impressionistic style works brilliantly – colours balance excellently too!” Michael Craine

EssDee Award Winner: Helen Murgatroyd, Bude, Cornwall
“We love the sense of character and artistry in her work and felt that many of her pieces have a great feeling of humour about them. We really value how she depicts everyday life in her work.” Katy Yeomans

Haigh Award Winner: Alison Diamond, Consett, Durham
For ‘The Slide”
“The thrill of the big slide, climbing to the top and speeding down the slide, so high, so fast, great composition” Roger Haigh

Hawthorn Award Winner: Moira McTeague, Harrogate
For ‘Set of Four Birds”
“Love the use of colour, detail and the birds are impressive” Michael Rushton

Handprinted Award Winner: Cath Brooke, Leeds
For “Dulas Bay I’
“Draws me close in, love the textures, colours and combination of techniques”

Ironbridge Printmaker Award Winner: Jenny McCabe, Lancaster
“Jenny’s work is original and so striking, her technical ability as a printmaker and her imagery is excellent. She is also prolific in her making and each piece is beautiful in its own right. A brilliant printmaker!” www.ironbridgeframing.co.uk

Kunstprenteverket Award Winner 1st: Jo McChesney, Lutterworth
Kunstprenteverket Award Winner 2nd: Anthony Ratcliffe, Ashton-under-Lyne
Norwegian printmaking studio dedicated to the preservation of traditional printmaking techniques and equipment. Kunstprenteverket translates as The Art Printworks

McClures Award Winner: Adele Burdon, Hexham
For ‘Ragged”
“Different technique, good colour” Ben McClure, Heather McClure

TPFramework Award Winner: James Green, Meersbrook
For ‘Donkey World Series’
“We loved the sense of fun, but equally the talent is evident“ Fay & Terry Powley

Chris Benefield Memorial Award Winner: Alan Stones, Penrith
For ‘Fly’
“Chris in his day was a fly fisher – loved the peace – and the action – this print says so much” Janet Benefield

Founders Award Winner: Nell Smith, Manchester
“Like her quirky spirituality” Judy Evans & Ronkey Bullard

Zillah Bell Gallery Award Winner: Ian Phillips, Gwynedd
For ‘Sea Mist’
“The contrast between the delicacy of the sky & sea with the strength of the rocks” John Bell

Printmakers’ Printmaker Award Winner: Gail Mason, Bristol
Voted for by her fellow exhibitors, an accolade that is particularly meaningful as it reflects recognition by her peers

Visitors Choice Award Winner Sponsored by James Cropper PLC:
Jenny McCabe, Lancaster – presented by Richard Dancy
Mr Dancy also brought two A2 reams of paper that were presented to:
Printmaking paper awarded by James Cropper PLC: Anita Klein, selected by Mr Dancy
Printmaking paper awarded by James Cropper PLC: Jo Bourne, selected by Printfest for stepping in at the last minute
James Cropper PLC create some of the world’s most distinctive and technically advanced paper products, using materials from cotton and wood to carbon fibre.

The 20th award was to Printmaker of the Year 2022 Anita Klein.