Annual ceramics festival returns to Cumbria

Penrith is set to become the ceramics centre of the UK as two long-running pottery festivals return to the town this ​summer.

For two consecutive weekends artists and potters from all over the world will be making their way to exhibit at Potfest in the Park ​in July ​and Potfest in the Pens​ in August​.

Taking place at Hutton-in-the-Forest and Skirsgill Auction Mart respectively, Penrith has become home to the biggest international gathering of potters in the UK.

As potters themselves, organisers Geoff and Christine Cox, from Penruddock, each year take part in a number of continental ceramic festivals, partly to sell their own work but also to find makers to invite back to their Penrith Potfests.

Geoff said: “Each year we try to find special groups from different parts of Europe who we think make interesting work and hope that our visitors will feel the same.

“In the past we’ve had guest groups from Holland, Belgium Germany, and France but this year Catalonia comes to Cumbria with potters from an area between Barcelona and Tarragona at the Park and the Pens.”

They are not the only long distance travellers; Denmark, the Adriatic coast of Slovenia, Burgundy, Brittany, Normandy and the south of France will all be represented at Potfest, along with UK makers from Aberdeen to Dorset, West Wales to Norfolk bringing a selection of pots plates and ceramic sculptures to Penrith.

But the two events can be very different experiences for visitors.

Chris said: “Potfest in the Park, being in the main of international stature, is an event of aspiration as well as inspiration. Being held at Hutton-in-the-Forest encourages visitors to make a full day of the event, with entrance to the gardens and grounds included in the admission price.

“Potfest in the Pens is a more down to earth atmosphere, with free hour long classes available to visitors who would like to try throwing on the potter’s wheel. It takes place undercover so there’s no need to worry about the weather.”

There will be demonstrations in hand building, 3D printing in clay and chance to see the experts taking part in a throwing competition and a chance for any aspiring potter to talk with and buy from around 150 ceramicists with trade stands for those wishing to source clay, materials, tools, and kilns.

Geoff and Christine’s idea is to not only make a show of excellence but also to make one to create a desire to get more involved in the craft.

Since BBC Two’s Great Pottery Throwdown ceramicists have noticed an upsurge of people looking to try pottery as a hobby.

For these Potfest is a must place to visit; Potfest in the Park to see what can be achieved at the highest level and Potfest in the Pens to find their creative spirit in clay.

Potfest in the Park takes place at Hutton-in-the-Forest from Friday 28 July until Sunday 30 and is open from 10am – 5pm daily. Adult entry is £6-50 which includes admission to gardens. Accompanied children are free and well behaved dogs are welcome. Free parking, picnic area and refreshments are all available on site.

Potfest in the Pens takes place at the auction mart, Skirsgill from Friday 4 August until Sunday 6 August and is open from 10am – 5pm daily. Adult admission is £4.50, seniors £4.00, accompanied children are free and well behaved dogs are welcome. Free parking and refreshments available on site.

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