A BREATHTAKING array of traditional Chinese artwork from an international competition left visitors to a St Clement's gallery spellbound.

The 22 pieces on display at the Sinolink Gallery last week were the winning entries of this year's Woodblock Printmaking Awards, run by the Muban Educational Trust.

Set up two years ago to promote the printmaking technique, the awards encourage young people in mainland China to look away from digital methods and turn their hand to an ancient tradition in order to keep it alive.

Professor Weimin He, an Oxford University artist-in-residence and tutor at Ruskin College, toured the gallery with Elizabeth Reid of the Muban Trust last week.

He said: "China invented the woodblock printmaking technique in the late sixth century, around 800 years ahead of European printmaking; it has a really long history.

"This trust is trying to save the older technique and promote awareness; computer printing is quick and immediate, but woodblock printmaking needs effort."

A total of 99 submissions were received from artists, mostly aged under 30, in mainland China, some of whose works have been collected by the British Museum.

Prof He added: "I was impressed - they were all wonderful in different ways."