Printfest in Schools

Learning about printmaking

We aim to inspire young people with printmaking, encouraging the use of printmaking techniques and an appreciation of printmaking by others.

A printmaking brief for 2024 has been provided to Primary and Secondary Schools to spark ideas for projects and artwork which will be displayed at The Coro during Printfest 2024.

Primary and Secondary school printmaking showreel 2024

Printfest in Schools Impact Paper

Interview with Esther Benson and Lorraine Thompson
Written by Sarah Igo, 

The interest in the Printfest in Schools programme deserves to be talked about because of the impact it is having. The two key people running this programme, Esther and Lorraine, are receiving responses that need to be shared. This impact paper is in support of their valuable and worthwhile work. Printfest is very pleased to be supporting, developing and working with our local schools, from initial printmaking brief to exhibition of final work.

Comments from schools and school children in response to the Printfest weekend:

“I just wanted to say how fantastic Print Fest was this year, and seeing the students work presented so professionally was incredible. So thank you” UVHS

“My project for Printfest was great, once I was looking at my artwork in the gallery, it shone right in front of my eyes and I enjoyed it throughout the experience” Student from Lakes School

“I like how Printfest gives young artists an opportunity to be seen” Student from Lakes School

“The children get the opportunity to work to a brief and have their work displayed in a gallery. It gave our children a sense of achievement” teacher from Ramsden Infants School

“The children loved printing! It is very sensory and suited their needs” Teacher from Sandgate School

“It was great for the students to have their work exhibited outside of school. It raises their aspirations as well as their motivation levels” Teacher from Settlebeck School

“Lovely to have so many students involved. I really like that you do free teacher places on the courses” exhibiting Artist

“Great to see. Keep it going. Art in school is vital.” exhibiting Artist

“I am impressed by the variety of work produced and with the way it has been hung” Hilary Paynter, Printmaker of the Year

“I am trying to pick someone who has a slightly different voice, has a bit of individuality coming through, anyone can make a print, but how do you move out of the milieu, how do you make it powerful? Not pretty but powerful?” Gail Mason, Printmakers’ Printmaker and schools’ Judge

Instructional videos

Please feel free to use these during lessons, pausing the instructions as you go along ~ Click the image to view the videos in YouTube.

Relief Printing with Polyblock ~ Anyone can use this instructional video for learning how to create some simple printmaking techniques that can be done in any space.

Monoprinting with stencils part I Anyone can use this instructional video for learning how to create some simple printmaking techniques that can be done in any space.

Primary and Secondary school printmaking showreel from 2023

Primary and Secondary school printmaking showreel from 2022

Above is a selection of the prints created by the school children in response to the brief

Young Printmaker of the Year 2024
Highly Commended Schools

Artist SallyAdkins had the unenvious job of choosing our school winners this year. The standard of work submitted by schools was exceptional so very well done to all the teachers and young people involved.

First up our Primary School Winner:
~ Jaden Year 4 ~ St George’s Primary School

Sally also awarded Special Commendation to the following pupils for outstanding work –
Lucius, year 4, St Georges Primary School
Novah, year 3, Parkside Academy
Oliver, year 5, Lindal and Marton Primary School
Delila, year 6, Broughton School
Theo, age 9, Broughton School
Ivor, age 7, Broughton School

And also Special Commendation to the following Schools for their group efforts:
Grange Primary School
StPius X
Lindal and Marton Primary School

Next up our Secondary School Winner:
~ Luca Murdoch 15 ~ Lakes School

Young Printmaker of the Year Secondary – Luca Murdoch, age 15, The Lakes School
Sally also awarded Special Commendation to the following pupils for outstanding work –
Lola, year 10, UVHS
Evie, age 14, Sandgate Special School
Sophia, age 13, Dallam School
Alicja, age 14, The Lakes School
April, age 11, Appleby Grammar School
And also Special Commendation to the following Schools for their group efforts
Sandside Lodge Special School

2023 Winners:

Shannon, Ulverston Victoria High Secondary School
Peter, Broughton-in-Furness CE Primary School
Both the 2023 winning entries are currently on show at Swarthmoor Hall until the end of May 2024. Their prints hang alongside works from some of the most renowned printmakers in the UK, including Jason Hicklin RE, Anita Klein PPRE and Hilary Paynter MBE

Primary and Secondary

Primary and Secondary school pupils in the local area fully embraced our project. Using a range of printmaking techniques and a variety of creative responses to the brief, students produced an impressive collection of work. The work of over 600 children was on display over the Printfest weekend, up the stairwell, in the Super Room, in the Main Hall corridor or projected on a loop in the Supper Room.

The 2024 brief

Theme: Turning a sketch into a Print

Sally Adkins was voted as ‘Printmaker’s Printmaker’ at this year’s Printfest weekend.

Sally makes sketches whilst out in the landscape and in all weathers to capture the feel and mood of a place. These drawings inspire her prints; she doesn’t copy them, they just remind her of how it felt to be outside in nature. The print technique she uses is called etching and she works mainly in black and white.

She says “I sketch to capture the sense of place, the weather, the way the light falls, my visceral response to where I am. The sketchbook becomes a prompt, a memory of marks. My etching / print develops from that memory but takes on a life and path of its own.”

Graham Firth, another prize winner at Printfest 2023, sketches his surroundings in more urban settings and also turns his sketches into prints. Graham works mainly in multi colour lino prints.

Choose work you think is appropriate for the age group you are working with. We would like to ask school pupils to respond to the idea of Turning a Sketch into a Print. Any hand-made printing technique can be used.

Your Brief:

Explore the work of Sally and Graham, talk about how they use sketches to inspire their prints. Try making your own sketches and drawings on your chosen theme.

Develop ideas for print, this may include planning how to use colour. Develop your use of a printmaking technique to produce your final idea.

Print using printmaking techniques to produce your response to the artists and your theme.

The outcome

• Show work at Printfest 2024.
• Admission to Printfest is free for all children and students


Printfest has been able to offer 4 hour workshops, split into two sessions, to some local Primary Schools, with the aim of introducing children and teachers to printmaking techniques that can easily be taught in the classroom. The print work produced by the children in these workshops was on display with the school work over the Printfest weekend. There were also two places on each of the workshops at Printfest, for teachers, offering the opportunity for new skills and ideas to be taken away and shared in the classroom. We are grateful for the help in funding by Cumbria Community Foundation.

For further information about getting involved please email: or

Artists’ work examples:
above – Sally Adkins – ‘Flashes of light fall in the form of rain’
below – Graham Firth, working sketch and finished colour print, ‘Checkout’

Huge thanks to these amazing sponsors Essdee and James Cropper for materials for the schools project:

Love this blog on the Essdee website! click the image to read Printfest in Schools – Essdee Art & Craft

Essdee wrote: “Essdee are proud to be involved with Printfest for the third year and have been especially excited to have supported the Printfest in Schools project this year. We have been excited to partner with Printfest to help encourage young people to learn about printmaking and enjoyed attending the exhibition and have been really impressed with the work that the children have produced.”

We also love this page of the Essdee website – its been a joy to collaborate with them on the Printfest in Schools programme. Thank you Katy.

Printfest in Schools, July 2023