THE ceramics event of the year will be marking a special anniversary next week.

Potfest reaches its 25th year in 2018, having established itself as one of the biggest dates in the Cumbrian calendar.

Between its two events - Potfest in the Park at Hutton-in-the-Forest, taking place from Friday July 27 to Sunday 29, and Potfest in the Pens at Penrith Auction Mart from Friday August 3 to Sunday 5 - it is expected to bring in the region of £1m into the local economy.

Following an invitation to exhibit at a ceramics market in Holland and being blown away by the experience, two Cumbrian based potters, Geoff and Christine Cox, asked the question: “why is there nothing like this in the UK?”

Having spoken to other events organisers and failing to pass on their enthusiasm for the event they decided to run one themselves.
Potfest in the Pens

In 1994, 100 potters from all over the UK gathered in the cattle mart in Penrith to make the first event of it’s kind ever held in the UK, an unselected, down to earth pottery market - Potfest in the Pens.

By 2001, the festival had become so successful that a second event was added the weekend before. This time at Hutton-in-the-Forest, a small Country House four miles north of Penrith, the home of Lord and Lady Inglewood. Potfest in the Park, is a selected event showcasing the very best of European studio pottery. Between them the two events now make the biggest ceramics show in the UK and one of Europe’s premier pottery events.

Between the two shows around 270 makers will be taking part, traveling from all parts of the UK, Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Denmark and Portugal - one even coming from Japan just to exhibit their work in Penrith.
Potfest in the Pens

This year will be the 25th Potfest in the Pens with 170 exhibitors taking part. The festival market now also offers visitors the opportunity to get hands on with clay through free throwing lessons on the potters wheel, modelling and hand building workshops and ‘the big tile making’ project where visitors will be encouraged to help make a 1,000-tile mural.

Matt Cox, festival organiser, said: “Potfest in the Pens is the biggest that it’s been for a long time - we’ve got a record number of first-time exhibitors taking part this year.

“We’ve extended the number of hands-on activities which include workshops with Clay Craft Magazine, as well as the usual throwing lessons and raku demonstrations.”

Over the past 25 years Potfest has made Cumbria a UK hub for ceramic arts with dozens of new artists starting businesses in the area and established makers moving here.

It is estimated that Potfest in the Pens has provided a launch pad for the artistic careers of well over 100 new ceramics artists.

For more information on either Potfest events, visit www.potfest.co.uk