THROUGHOUT the past century, the Lake Artists’ Society summer exhibition at Grasmere Hall, now in its 115th year, has set the gold standard in Northern art, and this summer’s collection of 319 works is as distinctive, distinguished and diverse as ever.

Visitors will discover masterful landscapes, arresting still life and fascinating portraits in watercolours, oils, acrylics, pastels and charcoal, as well as beautiful and innovative sculptures in stone, wood and ceramics, earthenware clay, welded steel and wire.

However, the success of the exhibition doesn’t rest solely on the works themselves, but also on the skills of good presentation, as the society’s newly elected president Kevin Chester knows only too well, having in the past been exhibition director.

“The ten days before the exhibition are hectic, beginning with the hanging committee, who select which works from members and non-members will be hung," Kevin said.

"As director, I never had a masterplan, but the aim is always to make the exhibition work as a whole - it has to flow, because it’s that vital juxtaposition of paintings and sculptures that pulls in the viewer. Pieces have to blend, there must be harmony, and it’s the subtle merging of works that brings it together."

As opening day approaches, members are busy painting the display boards, plinths and stands a dark, enticing wine red, particularly effective for the flesh colours of portraits.

The ink is barely dry on the catalogue as the private view opens, and few in the waiting queue outside would imagine how much work goes on last-minute behind the scenes.

In the opinion of its new president, the standard of work at Grasmere is equal to any major exhibition in the country: "We’re talking about reaching out beyond Cumbria, perhaps even becoming an international exhibition."

Ambitious it may be, but the area’s World Heritage status puts art in the Lakes on a higher level than ever before, supported by the present calibre of work. Every piece displayed has earned its hallowed place at Grasmere. Among 2019’s prize winners are Gemma Duffield, Stephen (George) Rae and David Cemmick.

Joint winners for the most outstanding exhibit are two exquisite works, Peter Monaghan’s Cumbrian Glassworker No. 2 and Kevin Chester’s Igreja dos Pretos. Martin Greenland’s brooding, majestic Crookscape deservedly won the award for most captivating landscape.

l Open daily, 10.30am-4.30pm, until Wednesday, September 4.