IF THE Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition shows the best of the best fine art from around the globe, then the Original Print Show in Thirsk is showing the cream of global printmaking.

“Don’t look at the names, look at the pictures," advised senior Royal Academician Norman Ackroyd, who formed part of the hanging committee at the Royal Academy in the summer and selected highlights from the ever-popular Print Room to curate this show which continues until October 31.

“It’s hugely democratic, that’s what I like about it, a complete unknown, a student, hanging next to a Jasper Johns. I love that sort of thing. The whole British community of artists get the chance to exhibit with one another once a year, ” he added.

The exhibition is nothing short of first class. It is a privilege and a pleasure to find the pick of this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition has ventured to a small North Yorkshire gallery.

The Zillah Bell holds the largest collection of work by Norman Ackroyd in the UK and there are stunning examples of his work on show, notably his breath-taking etching of Galway Bay depicting moisture in the air so heavy that it is almost tangible.

There are works by some of the UK’s most celebrated contemporary artists, among them Michael Craig-Martin, Yinka Shonibare, Julian Opie, Barbara Rae, Gillian Ayres and Turner Prize nominee Ian Davenport to name but a few.

Personal highlights include an arresting monochromatic woodcut on kozo paper by Christiane Baumgartner hanging in the window. Step beyond Baumgartner’s trees to be confronted by the equally stunning physicality of Rook, a woodcut by Julian Meredith.

Upstairs, a sobering, bird’s-eye-view aquatint by Robin Jung Hun Kang entitled Overflow (Tokyo, Japan) hangs opposite Ade Adesina’s large linocut, Adaptation, presenting an alternative and similarly uninviting yet technically accomplished and conceptually intriguing cityscape.

The best pieces to my mind are the sexy, dripping contemporary takes on still life by Gordon Cheung in the final gallery space upstairs. Summing up the entire exhibition, his digital inkjet prints are sensational and unmissable.

Sarah Mayhew Craddock