Anna Lewis is a Jeweller from Swansea and in 2005 was awarded £10,000 after applying for a Creative Wales Award.
Anna graduated from Middlesex University with a degree in Jewellery in 2000. She immediately set up her business back in Swansea making exhibiting and selling jewellery. Her reputation grew rapidly and she was soon showing at prestigious exhibitions in the UK and over seas including Chelsea Crafts Fair, Schmuck 2002 and SOFA Chicago.
Her jewellery collections at the time incorporated silver components with hand printed feathers and suede as well as one off larger pieces of conceptual wearable art based on themes of memory.
As her reputation grew and exhibiting opportunities continued she began to feel that the pressures of running her business were taking valuable time away from the creative processes needed to develop her work.
'Even though I had been successful with my collections, I had felt for some time a great frustration within my own creativity because of the lack of finance and time available to explore my ideas properly. My career had reached a point where, in order to take my designs to the next level I needed some time out from the everyday commitments of running a business to focus on the key themes which inspired my work and to push the boundaries within my own ability.
Cathexis Installation, Mission Gallery 2007: photographer Jesse Seaward
In addition to her need for research and development she had also just been commissioned by Mission Gallery to create an installation for exhibition in the gallery the following year. This was an additional incentive to apply for funding as it would be a huge creative challenge allowing her to explore more adventurous and large scale ideas.
On receiving her grant she was able to cut down on her exhibiting schedule and concentrate on a prolonged period of study including museum and gallery visits, reading, drawing, designing and photography, all of which were an essential part of the design process and would go on to inform her studio practice.
As well as this important study time Anna was able to buy some much-needed new equipment, take training courses in photo etching and computer aided design, and spend time in her studio experimenting with new techniques
"The award has opened my work up in many ways - having the time to explore new ideas is the most valuable commodity to any artist and, without the assistance of the Arts Council of Wales, a luxury I would be unable to explore to its full potential. I have been able to research, both visually and through reading, into themes that inspire my work such as memory, superstitions and emotional responses and relationship to objects.
"From this research and experiment with new materials I created a large scale installation and new collection of jewellery which have both opened up new ways of working and further opportunities to exhibit and collaborate with other artists and organisations such as an installation at Liberty, an order from the Tate shop for jewellery, exhibiting at Origin 08 and an exciting project with a photographer."
Anna Lewis's work (Origin Craft Fair - October 2008)
Anna hoped that her time spent on professional development would not only benefit herself but also help to raise the profile of Welsh contemporary jewellery within the UK and internationally.
She was given the chance to do just that in 2008 when she applied for, and was offered a stand at Origin: The London Craft Fair. The annual event, which is held at Somerset House in London by the Crafts Council, is the principle event of its kind for designer makers. She decided to approach Arts Council of Wales for a small project grant in order to help cover the costs of taking part. With her exhibition at Mission Gallery successfully under her belt and a new body of work created as a result of her Creative Wales award she was ready to exhibit in such a high profile show but was concerned about the financial implications of taking unseen work to market. She was awarded £3,600, which enabled her to confidently plan and prepare for the show.
"This was the first time I had taken part in Origin and it was a perfect opportunity for me to launch a new body of work. My entire creative focus for my jewellery at that time was with this event in mind, to attract both new retail customers and galleries. The new work had not been widely seen at that time so it was a great opportunity to present something fresh and exciting."
The show was a great success for Anna with sales in excess of her expectations and lots of new contacts made that will no doubt serve her well into the future. This can be attributed to the high quality of her work and also to her careful consideration of all aspects involved in an exhibition such as Origin, including marketing and display.
"Overall the show was very successful for me, the economic slow down did not appear to affect peoples desire to buy work and my customers loved the new designs, which was a relief."
Since exhibiting at Origin, Anna has continued to exhibit her work and has many exciting projects planned for 2009.
For more information go to www.annalewisjewellery.co.uk