PRINTFEST returns next week - mooted by many as the UK’s foremost artist-led printmaking festival.

Staged at Ulverston’s Coronation Hall, the fabulous festival runs on Saturday and Sunday, May 3/4 with 38 makers exhibiting.

Last year’s festival saw 1,600 visitors beat a path to Ulverston to see work from some of the best in the printmaking field.

This year’s gathering promises to be better still with Gill Tyson leading the line-up as Printmaker of the Year 2014.

Gill studied at Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh University, receiving an MA (Hons) in fine art in 1979. Her main practice is in lithography, concentrating on the richness of expressive marks within this medium. She develops her prints by building up layers of colour to create a depth and intensity in deceptively simple and distilled imagery. Her work has been likened to “painting in slow motion.”

Gill explains that she likes remote environments where she seeks out what she describes as human markers in the landscape.

“My last exhibition Shelter focussed on different sources of shelter, from a castle to a telephone box, including recent work from the Outer Hebrides and St Kilda. I think that implicit in my subject matter is our desire at times to withdraw and retreat from the world while still needing the companionship and support of human communion.”

Gill is no stranger to Cumbria. Her grandfather was a stone mason from Ulverston who one day carried his tools across the sands to Lancaster. Her family settled in Heysham but her parents later moved to Grange-over-Sands.

Her recent exhibitions include the Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh Printmakers, The Red Barn and Printroom.

In 2012 she was one of the artists representing Britain in The International Print Exhibition in Kyoto, Japan.

“We’re very lucky to have Gill as our Printmaker of the Year,” adds Printfest’s artistic director, Janice Benson. “Her work is so atmospheric and, with her love of isolated places, it’ll be fascinating to see the print she creates during her time in Cumbria.”

Also among the illustrious list of printmakers are Rosemary Vanns (Printmakers' Printmaker 2013), Jim Anderson, Joanna Bourne, Janice Earley, Raymond Higgs, Beverley White, Mark Pearce, Alan Stones, Emerson Mayes, who won Young Artist of the Year Award in 1995, and Anja Percival, former Printmaker of the Year, who will be exhibiting a new collection of work.

Laura Boswell is new to Printfest and specialises in relief printmaking working in linocut and Japanese woodblock. In 2009 she studied traditional woodblock under masters in Japan and in 2013 she completed a second Japanese residency. She’ll be delivering a summer school on Japanese woodblock printing in August.

As usual, there will be demonstrations and workshops so that people can have a go at printmaking for themselves as well as talking to artists about what they do.

As the demand for demonstrations is always so high, this year we’ve commissioned two short films which show how artists Judy Evans and Jim Anderson create their work. Judy is one of Printfest’s founders and is based in Cumbria, while Jim is a regular exhibitor at Printfest. The films will premiere at Printfest and then be shown on line.

The Printfest Trail sees art in shops and other venues around Ulverston, including the Coach House Cafe at Ford Park, the Hot Mango Cafe and Natterjacks.

Printfest at the Coro is open 10am-5pm.