Anna Clark – Caring and Making

From a young age I always loved makings things with my hands – sewing; knitting; painting; drawing. Whatever else my school reports said, they always mentioned I was good at ‘handwork’.

But life intervenes and during my twenties my handwork lapsed into non-existence as I back-packed my way around the world, intent on adventure.

Those adventures ended in a small mountain town in Canada where I married a Canadian and bought a house. Wondering what to do with myself, I took an evening class in jewellery making, and from there I went on to the full-time course in Jewellery & Small Object Design. The long drive to college on snowy winter roads was often treacherous but I never missed a day as I loved the course, the studio, the other students.

I felt at home in the amazing world of working in metal: meticulous, small treasures sitting in the palm of my hand – I had found my niche.

Green and cream enamel earrings
Blue namel necklace

By 2012 I had a successful art jewellery business, I sold my work in galleries across Canada, made works to commission, and won awards from the Metal Arts Guild of Canada and the British Columbia Crafts Association. I was thriving but I felt strongly that I had to return to the UK. My parents were unwell and needed help. In April of that year we sold our house and flew ‘home’, arriving in time for the wettest, coldest summer on record.

The difficulties involved in moving across the world and setting up all over again, while at the same time caring for my parents, led to huge emotional stress. I fell into despair countless times.

As many people know, caring for people you love as they decline into incomprehensible illness, is terrible and sad and draining. Trying to set up my jewellery practice and workshop at the same time was the most difficult thing I’ve done. Yet there was always the making to keep me going. I rented studio space in a freezing converted cow shed on a farm, and there I could lose myself and get some peace by working with my hands, thinking in images and drawing designs in my sketchbook.

Slowly and incrementally over the years my parents’ situation changed and I found ways of separating my work thoughts from my family ones. We built an insulated studio in the garden and I took an inspiring course at West Dean College from the renowned enamel artist Jane Short. I also joined The Sussex Guild where I found a warm, friendly community of fellow artists and a well-run organisation that gave me a place to belong back here in the UK.

Now it is ten years on and my caring duties have finished. Putting sadness behind me I feel excited and encouraged and I’m looking forward with a sense of delight and expectation to the years of making I have ahead of me. I am specialising in engraving and enamelling on silver, relishing this challenging work. I can’t wait to get into the studio each day and work on my pieces.


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