A thousand pictures will be filling The Coro this weekend as the UK’s leading festival of printmaking peels back the bubble wrap for 2023.


Among the most exciting unveilings at the annual Ulverston art extravaganza which opens on Friday (Apr 27), will be the first showing of Piel Island by Hilary Paynter.


The celebrated wood engraver whose work adorns the Newcastle Metro and books by the likes of Simon Armitage, cast her eye over the Furness coastline for inspiration for her commissioned piece as this year’s Printfest Printmaker of the Year.


“I’d seen a TV programme about Piel Island and felt intrigued - especially by the access via the low-tide causeway,” she said.

“The best view turned out to be from the bench at Rampside even though it was sopping wet! I really liked the way the view kept changing with layers of cloud and hints of land and Blackpool Tower appearing but didn't want to distract from the main subject.

“I had a strong vision of what I wanted to convey - the essence of the place rather than simply a snapshot.”


Paynter is one of 44 artists with work on sale this year at Printfest, selected from a record 93 applications drawn from across the UK from Perth to Penzance to Penrith.


“We’ve got artists who’ve built a real fan base here since the event began in 2001, including people like Kelly Stewart, Mark Pearce and Anja Percival,” said Printfest chair Sally Bamber.


“And it’s always exciting to see work by artists new to Printfest too - we have a record number of those this year – seventeen in all.”


They include Lisa Takahashi, a previous semi-finalist in Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year.


“Lisa’s a British-Japanese artist based in Taunton in Somerset. Her linocuts celebrate the overlooked beauty of everyday things and scenes in bold, colourful shapes. I think people will really enjoy them,” said Sally Bamber.


Alongside the work from professional artists will also be a selection of pictures by Cumbrian schoolchildren. Nearly 700 children have been able to have a go at printmaking this year thanks to workshops and teaching resources from the Printfest team.


“It’s a real buzz for them to have their work on display with the professionals,” said Sally Bamber. “They’ve produced some amazing work and for the first time we’ll be giving out a ‘Young Printmaker of the Year’ prize to help inspire the next generation of printmakers.”


The feast of art continues outside The Coro too at cafes, restaurants and shops displaying paintings and prints as part of the event’s Ulverston Fringe.


“We’re really proud of the quality and diversity of contemporary art on show,” said Sally Bamber. “Printfest is unique in offering visitors the experience of getting artwork direct from the artists, hearing the story behind it and finding-out more about printmaking. It’s all set to be another very fulfilling year.”


Printfest 2023 opens at The Coro, Ulverston from April 27th and runs until April 30th.