A FESTIVAL showcasing printmaking had a 'successful' return for its 20th edition.

Printfest was held in Coronation Hall in Ulverston and received over 1,700 visitors at The Coro this Bank Holiday weekend.

Forty-four of the UK’s leading printmakers had work on sale at the annual contemporary art show alongside work from hundreds of Cumbrian school children who’d taken part in a record number of workshops leading up to this year’s Printfest.

The Mail: Artist Sinclair Ashman. Credit: Kate KirkwoodArtist Sinclair Ashman. Credit: Kate Kirkwood (Image: Kate Kirkwood)

Sally Bamber, the chair of Printfest said: "We had a huge number of visitors who told us they’d travelled from across the country to Ulverston especially for the event. One said they had 'got the impression Printfest was the 'Baftas of printmaking' and now they had come, they 'knew it really was'!

"We've still got five artists to report back but total sales so far stand at over £70,000 again. I can't quite believe it!"

The annual festival also saw the unveiling of a picture capturing an icon of Furness drawn by an icon of printmaking, Piel Island by Hilary Paynter.

The 79-year-old whose work has made it into the collections of the V&A in London and the Center for British Art in Yale, was named Printfest Printmaker of the Year 2023.

That entailed travelling to Ulverston in January from her studio near Bath in Somerset to find local inspiration.

She settled on sketching Piel Castle from Rampside and then engraved every intricate line of sky and stone onto boxwood for her print.

In all 18 prizes were awarded to the exhibiting artists including for the first time two Young Printmakers of the Year.

Shannon Sear from Ulverston Victoria High School won the accolade for secondary age children and eight-year-old Peter Dowling of Broughton-in-Furness CE Primary for the younger participants.

The other prize winners included Anja Percival from Durham whose etchings capturing different atmospheres with light won the public vote for the Visitors Choice Award, sponsored by James Cropper PLC of Burneside.

The Chris Benefield Memorial Prize went to Ian Cox with his linocut print of a shadowy crowd called ‘Among Us’.

Ronkey Bullard, who founded Printfest with fellow artist Judy Evans, returned to Ulverston to hand-out the Founders Prize for the printmaker touching the quirkiness spot.

That went to Graham Firth from Doncaster with his linoprints of high street characters, including a series featuring novelty dog jumpers.  

The weekend also saw the opening of a permanent printmaking studio at 9 Queen Street, Ulverston.

It’s been opened by Printshare Lakes, a group of printmakers who’ve been meeting since 2017 to share ideas, skills and equipment. It will be offering a rolling programme of exhibitions and courses, making Ulverston a real year-round hub for printmaking.