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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Thousands of people attend Potfest celebration

Cumbria's going potty for ceramics as a creative industry proves to be big business with a global appeal.

Potfest photo
Visitors check out one of the pieces

Thousands of people turned out as people’s clay handiwork was celebrated at an ever-expanding event.

Potfest in the Park 2014 took place at Hutton-in-the-Forrest, near Penrith. First run in 2001, it attracts potters from all over the world who display and sell their work.

This year 109 of them made their way to the event – which ran from Friday to Sunday – some from as far afield as southern Spain and Portugal.

A crowd of 4,500 people made their way to the venue over the three days. Organiser Christine Cox was extremely pleased with how this year’s festival had gone.

“It was wonderful,” she said.

In fact, she was worried at one point that this year the event may have proved too popular.

She said: “For the first two days the parking field was filled up by lunchtime and we were worried we were going to have to use extra space but we managed to squeeze all of them in.”

Mrs Cox, who lives in Penruddock, near Penrith, said she saw a good number of new faces at Potfest this year who were enthusiastic about what they saw.

“I think that people who have never been before are always impressed at the variety and level of skill that is there, when you consider we are all using the same material.”

Potfest as a whole started in 1994 with events held at Penrith Farmers’ and Kidd’s auction mart at Skirsgill.

This became extremely popular and in 2001 the first Potfest in the Park was organised at Hutton-in-the-Forest took place with 200 ceramicists turning up.

As this was the same year as the foot and mouth crisis, Chris, who runs the event with her husband Geoff, said they were able to take advantage of Government funding as part of a drive to get people visiting Cumbria.

She finds it difficult to believe that this has grown by such a degree in popularity.

“It has completely taken over our lives because we spend all our time organising it,” she joked.

“People who live in Cumbria see it advertised and come along to it and are really interested and that’s great for the potters because they wouldn’t show up otherwise.”

One of the highlights for Mrs Cox this year was in impromptu performance of a Portuguese puppet show by the Upfront puppet theatre company.

She was also impressed by the winning entry for the theme competition, which this year was based around the title ‘Out of This World’.

The winner was created by Katherine Winfrex, of Leicestershire, which featured the voice box of a Clanger toy that went off when anyone applied pressure to certain parts of the pottery.

Mrs Cox has found that, like other traditional crafts, pottery seems to be enjoying a revival among the general public.

“We have had a lot more interest in the courses we run in the last few years,” she said.

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