Featured Artist – Anna Clarke
What is your name or the name you go by for your art?
Where do you live?
What’s your background?
I have 30 years’ experience across buying and design in fashion retail, most latterly for Sainsburys Tu Clothing, where I was Head of Design and Innovation. I have successfully launched two fashion brands and managed teams of over 65 people.
Which media do you prefer to work with?
Mixed media (i.e. watercolour, acrylic, and oil) along with texture, collage and textiles.
How did you learn your craft i.e. college, self-taught and what did that entail?
After completing my A Levels, I went to Loughborough College of Art for an Art foundation course, and then completed a four-year BSc degree in Textile Design at Huddersfield Polytechnic.
My dream job for the last 25 years has been in buying and design for fashion retail, most latterly as Head of Design & Innovation for Sainsburys ‘Tu’ clothing range, so I have been lucky enough to indulge my passion for colour and textiles on a daily basis.
I decided to take voluntary redundancy (VR) from this dream job to design my dream life in 2020, just as a pandemic and lockdown occurred!!
However, this gave me the time to re-evaluate, and I concluded that I wanted to create a portfolio career that allowed me to pursue my passion for art on the one-year Porthmeor Programme at St Ives School of Painting, as well as starting a gut health business and serving others in my local community.
Last year (2021), I also renovated the crumbling coach house at the end of our garden into my fabulous studio to create a permanent creative space, which both my daughter and I love to use.
What does your work aim to say?
My work combines my love of the open sea and admiration of Mother Nature the Artist, both of which inspire me with their ever-changing iteration of texture, pattern, and wondrous colour.
Does your work comment on current social or political issues?
Who are your biggest influences?
Influences of my textile degree and career in fashion are apparent in my recent creative practice, which is dedicated to my beloved father. I have painted scenes of places where we spent holidays together on his sailing clothes to keep his memory very much alive.
How do you navigate the art world?
I continue to love visiting galleries either in London or St Ives, whenever the opportunity arises.
How have you developed your career?
I took VR in June 2020, with the aim of pursuing my passion for art and hence I am transitioning from my dream job to designing my dream life, with a portfolio career that inspires others to create, nourish and heal, by launching my new business, Anna Clarke, in July 2022.
I am continuing to discover my creative voice as an artist, having completed the Porthmeor Programme at St Ives School of Painting. My ultimate ambition is to become a therapeutic artist, whilst volunteering at a local hospice charity shop.
Having prioritised my own health in 2020, as a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer, and after successfully putting my disease into remission, I started my gut health business to help others improve their health with improved nutrition and focussed wellbeing.
How do you seek out opportunities?
I love trying new practices and hence take every available opportunity to sign up to the varied courses, both live and online, offered by St Ives School of Painting, as well as retreat days with artists Natasha Clutterbuck in Bristol and Sally McCabe in St Ives.
How do you price your work?
My commercial background steered me to cover my costs, amortise my overheads and create a 50% profit margin, pitching at a gallery price. I also sell limited prints of my original artwork and gift cards.
Do you know where you are heading career wise? What are your hopes for your future?
Yes, as following the success of my first exhibition I am confident enough to call myself a practising artist. This means I am giving myself permission to paint weekly and join a local art group, with the ambition of continuing to exhibit annually, both in St Ives with the MAC l RAGs Art Collective 9 (see below) and locally in Warwickshire.
I would love to work in collaboration with other artists and I am keen to become a therapeutic artist to support others with their creative mindfulness.
Do you have any tips for young artists just starting out?
Just continue to do what you LOVE and hopefully you will be lucky enough, like myself, to incorporate your creative thinking and passion for art into your future career.
Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
Sadly, none coming up, but I have only recently completed the St Ives show, ‘Breathing Space’ with Gwynne Penny and the MAC l RAGS Art Collective.
The MAC l RAGS Art Collective – our name comes from the initial letter of each of our first names – is a group of seven artists who embarked on the year-long Porthmeor Programme at the iconic St Ives School of Painting in 2020. We were delighted to present ‘Breathing Space’ as a celebration of our time together.
We were drawn to St Ives by its light, inspiring scenery and fresh air, and the chance to work with other artists over nine weekends. We discovered that, while each of us has our own distinct identity and artistic practice, collectively we share a love of St Ives and the influence it has brought to bear upon us and our work.
The Covid-19 pandemic delayed the start of our Porthmeor Programme by five months, and continued to affect our time in St Ives, with several weekends together being postponed. The silver lining to this was that we completed the programme over 15 months, rather than the intended ten, which enabled us to get to know each other more deeply in the exploration of our art practices.
I am hopeful that we will be exhibiting together as MAC l RAGS on an annual basis.
Where can you be found on social media?
Personal Instagram and Facebook: @annaclarke2002
I am launching my new business, Anna Clarke – Create Nourish Heal, with a website on 1st July 2022. This will enable me to showcase my artwork and hence I will be setting up different Instagram accounts to allow me to separate my personal social media from my art, so watch this space!