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The Clever Design Store

At Home with Anna Church in Toronto, Canada

1/12/14 1:02 PM

Moving to Toronto has been so beneficial to my creative perspective. I’ve been immersed in a new creative community and have had opportunities to meet and collaborate with other emerging mid-career artists.

1. I’m interested in your move to Toronto from Waiheke, and particularly how the move from a small island at the bottom of the world to a large metropolis may have changed the content of your work - has there been a notable change in the items and materials you use in your compositions since moving to Canada? How much inspiration do you draw from your immediate environment and how much is based on your past experience?

Anna Church: I’ve been immersed in a new creative community and have had opportunities to meet and collaborate with other emerging mid-career artists/photographers, and to participate in their work.

I’ve viewed and been exposed to many hugely talented international artists and photographers at festivals and in galleries spotted throughout the city. I’ve also connected with galleries that represent artists on the international stage.

Since being here I’ve created two new series - Insignia and Out of time.

2.  The symmetry in your work is impeccable. Are you now, and have you always been a very precise and ordered person with your other belongings and your home? (Admittedly, I enjoy arranging my bookshelves by the colour of the books’ spines)




I think I have become more ordered and precise as I’ve got some years under my belt - my mother never would have said this when I was growing up!

I do like things to be presented well; arranging little vignettes around my home, making sure the carpet is straight and there’s not much mess… oh my goodness, I’ve never thought I was that person, but maybe I am! That said, my desk is far from ordered, and I can leave the bed unmade on occasion too!

It’s funny - I’ve had many people comment and make a parallel between my arrangements and the themes of Wes Anderson. My work is often discovered if people ‘hashtag’ him (#wesanderson) – I’m a big fan of his, so I’m more than happy with that comparison!



3.  What was it that drew you away from a career as a graphic designer and towards working with real-life objects?

I love the thrill of the find and the interactions I have with people, shop owners, and collectors; people who also love the ‘found object’ and the ‘curious’. Connecting with people on this platform is where many of my ideas really start to formulate!

I still have a passion for graphic design; looking at it and appreciating it, but the process isn’t tactile enough for me. 




4.  How much of yourself and your own lived experience is reflected in your works?

The common thread that stitches all my work to date is my exploration of history, nostalgia, and identity, and the places those things hold in our lives.

Whenever I embark on a new concept, theme, or idea these seem to be the parameters I work within, but naturally and without force. I also think about interior aesthetics and who my audience is. Most of the time my works are a reflection of my own aesthetic: and my audience seem to be those cut from the same cloth as me.

This has been instrumental in building my Instagram community. Gosh, what a wonderful community too - I love it. It’s such a buzz when connections are made with people globally & locally on such a symbiotic level!

 Photo by Rebecca Wood


Photo by Rebecca Wood

Photo by Rebecca Wood

5.  Social commentary on stereotypes and trends can be insightful and humorous, but also controversial! What are you trying to convey with the Out of Time series? What types of reactions have you received so far?

I’ve created the Out of Time series to definitely be a conversation starter! I have purposely left the description of each piece to a minimum in order for the viewer to devise their personal interpretation! The reactions so far have been that of entertainment and beauty – which is great! I really wanted to create something that was a pleasure to look, be easily lived with, as well as have an underlying humorous twang . He’s such a loveable character, I found it hard to say goodbye to the furry fella at the end of my project, he was a great sport!


6.  How have you found the creative community in Toronto? Has the big city opened any interesting doors for you in terms of collaborating with other creative folk?

It most certainly has! I’ve had the chance to have my work reviewed by some well-regarded Canadian and international industry people at both the Contact Film Festival and at SNAP (a Toronto photographic completion).

Just recently I received some incredible feedback at OCAD (the Ontario College / university of Art and Design). The reviewers and reviewees both loved the Out of Time series, much to my relief – it's always nerve racking releasing new work to an audience of industry professionals, well any audience really!

These are amazing opportunities I could only have dreamed of back home on Waiheke. In the process I’ve made connections with many other creatives, and formed some lovely friendships.


 Photo by Rebecca Wood

  7.  The Insignia series reminded me of reading ‘I Spy’ books as a kid – details and objects continue to reveal themselves the longer you look. It’s quite mesmerizing. What are the most common reactions to your pieces?

Yes, I love that you say that! This is exactly the intention, and this is the reaction most people have too! 

I also love - especially with the Insignia series - how people like to take the concept and intertwine it with their own heirlooms or special trinkets. The ‘Bespoke Insignia’ idea [creating bespoke works by commission] is something I have been dabbling with and working away on. Watch this space!

Post by Jeremy

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