Potfest in Penrith celebrates 25th anniversary

Crowds at a previous Potfest in the Pens

Crowds at a previous Potfest in the Pens - Credit: not Archant

Many of the world’s best ceramic artists will be exhibiting their work near Penrith this summer.

Potfest in the Park will feature more than 100 of the worlds best ceremic artists

Potfest in the Park will feature more than 100 of the worlds best ceremic artists - Credit: not Archant

Potters Chris and Geoff Cox loved a show they exhibited at in Holland so much, they launched their own in this country. And 25 years on from their first Potfest in Penrith, the event is now regarded as one of the best showcases for the world's leading ceramic artists.

Since its launch in 1994, Potfest has expanded and now features two shows near Penrith and one in Scotland.

Potfest in the Park takes place from July 26-28 in the grounds of Hutton-in-the-Forest and will feature the work of more than 100 specially invited ceramicists from across the globe. The more informal Potfest in the Pens happens the following week, August 2-4, in the auction mart beside junction 40 of the M6.

Chris and Geoff are both still making and exhibiting - you'll be able to see them and their work at Potfest in the Pens - but they now leave the organising to son Matt. He said: 'The original event grew and reached a stage where it was getting too busy, so my parents launched Potfest in the Park, a select event where they invited the people they considered to be the best around to exhibit. They had exhibitors from Japan, New Zeland, Australia and about 30 from across Europe. It became one of the best - if not the best - ceramics shows in the world.

'This year we have more than 100 exhibitors at Potfest in the Park and it's nice that we are starting to see quite a few younger exhibitors reaching the standards. Events can become stagnant if they always have the same people exhibiting, but we try to have about 30 per cent at each event who weren't there the year before.'

Matt was a mature student studying medicine at university in Edinburgh when his parents launched Potfest Scotland. He was roped in to help and the studies went by the wayside as the events grew - at one stage they were running seven Potfests each year, from Scotland down to Somerset. That has now been whittled down to three and Matt's return from a spell living in France coincided with his parents' decision to step away from organising the events.

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'We will have about 175 exhibitors at Potfest in the Pens,' he said. 'I expect we'll have about 4,500 people visiting each show - people come from all over the North West, and some from even further afield.'

So, having grown up with potters and spent so long being associated with the events, does he ever have a desire to sit at the wheel himself? No, it seems he doesn't.

'I have spent so much time around amazingly talented people and I realised quite quickly that what I see in my mind's eye is a world apart from what I can actually make. There's an egg cup that proves the point. I'll leave that to other people who are muchbetter at it than me.' u

Potfest in the Park will be at Hutton-in-the-Forest from July 26-28, with Potfest in the Pens at Skirsgill Auction Mart, Penrith from August 2-4. For more information, go online to potfest.co.uk.