Suffolk’s Modern Artist-In-Residence Anna Mac Is Keeping Creativity Alive On The Coast

Anna Mac, 34, is a British Contemporary Artist based in a rural market town in coastal Suffolk. 

She manages to recast simple lines and shapes into conversation-starting pieces of art using acrylic paint. Don’t be fooled by how simple that sounds. Her work is complex, it harnesses the power of colour and toys with its relationship, not only with other colours, but the viewer, too. Anna, describes the process “like a game of building and taking away” with the smallest edition of a shape or use of colour having the ability to transform the painting.

Often inspired by the beautifully painted local houses, as well as the sea, Suffolk serves up plenty of inspiration. Here, Anna invites us in to her community-focused art space, and gives us the inside track on where to eat, stay and shop.

Can you tell me a bit about your journey into the world of art?

I’d always wanted to be an artist but never felt it was possible. I dabbled around in lots of different areas and jobs but ultimately decided to just go for it in 2017. It’s a complete roller coaster, but I am so happy and grateful to be doing what I love day in and day out. 

Did you inherit your love of art? 



On Suffolk and the creative scene there?

I moved to the Suffolk Coast 5 years ago and was pleasantly surprised by how creative it is here. It didn’t take long to make creative connections who became supportive friends. The support from Suffolk locals has been invaluable and really encouraged me to keep going especially in those early days.

And have you also found support in the industry?

It has been a very positive experience, I have had so much support from people within the industry. It really makes such a difference.

Can you tell me about your studio?

I was lucky enough to be one of the first artists to move into the Art Station (a non-profit arts organisation) . My studio has beautiful big windows that give great light for painting. The ceilings are really high, so there is a feeling of space and airyness. The building was built in 1954 and used as a telephone exchange. There’s a really great feeling to the whole building with different creatives occupying the studios. 

What inspires your work? 

Colour, structure, negative space, lines and shapes in architecture, interiors and exteriors of my immediate surroundings. 

Can you talk us through the process of creating a piece? 

It varies but at the moment I start with quick line drawings, just to get shapes down on paper. I’ll keep drawing over and over – keeping the shapes and lines that are working and developing the bits that aren’t working. I can keep drawing these shapes over and over for hours. I find it really relaxing as there is no pressure with each sketch. It is just about those initial shapes. From there I will move to my iPad to develop the chosen sketch, adding in colour and constantly switching the colour combinations until it feels right. I will then either do a small mockup on paper or go straight to the canvas. I like to keep sampling the colour by making swatches. This allows me to see how the colours work together in real life and how the light hits. 

Do you ever create pieces you can’t bring yourself to part with?

I definitely have had my favourites that part of me would have liked to have kept. But most of the time I am ready to part ways as they have lived inside my head prior to being brought to life and then living with them on the walls. It’s good to say goodbye.

Can you tell me about the Together/ Apart collages, and your charity pledges?

I started the Together/Apart collages at the beginning of the Pandemic,  as like most people I had no idea what the next few months would look like. I thought I may as well use the time to experiment in a medium I hadn’t explored.  I guess my style of work was already conducive to the technique of collage due to the blocks of colour and clean lines. I began by painting sheets of paper and started to build up a collection of painted paper. Initially I didn’t have much of a plan and was experimenting by cutting out familiar shapes often used in my paintings. After some experimentation the collages started to come together and form these fragmented scenes of homes and buildings.  Synonymous of where we all were in terms of Covid and the lockdown – together but apart.

When I had several pieces ready I really wanted to donate a proportion of the sales to charity. As we know, so many people were suffering due to the Pandemic. I didn’t anticipate over a year later I would still be creating them. 

“Each time 20% sales go to a different charity. I am very lucky to be in a privileged position, I live in an area where there is plenty of outdoor space, I am healthy and still able to work safely.”


Do you have a favourite place/ beach/ spot in Suffolk that you can share?

Dunwich beach is really special.

Do you have any daily/ weekly rituals in Suffolk? 

I try to make the time once a week to take a long walk in Dunwich forest, it’s incredibly peaceful and a great way to clear your mind. You can spend hours walking around without seeing a soul. 

What do you love the most about living there/ can you tell us a little about the lifestyle? 

I really enjoy being in nature and the peace and quiet. It’s perfect if you are into walking, running, cycling, swimming in the sea. There are so many beautiful routes to explore. 

Can you tell me about two or three local businesses you’ve discovered in the area? 

‘Vanil’ in Woodbridge. Mandy the owner stocks a range of Scandinavian homewares as well as supporting local creatives. 

‘Five Acre Barn’ contemporary bed and breakfast set in five acres of tranquil garden and woodland near Aldeburgh. David and Bruce have an incredible eye for design and detail. The whole place is stunning and welcoming. 

What was the last thing you bought from an Independent brand?

Ocelot chocolate.

Favourite place for coffee/ to eat out?

Two Magpies Bakery (in Darsham, Aldeburgh and Southwold) do takeaway stonebaked sourdough pizzas Fridays and Saturdays. Collect your order and take it to the beach with a beer. Perfect.

Favourite shop stocking independent brands?

Vanil, Tea and Kate, East of Eden..

Favourite gallery?

Going to the Tate Modern always feels like receiving a big hug.

Is there a must-see exhibition on your list for this year?

‘The Call’ – Prudence Flint. Mother’s Tankstation, London.

Do you have any travel plans for the rest of the year?

I am hoping to take a bikepacking trip in the UK. I really enjoy being out in the countryside and getting some headspace. I am quite addicted to working so doing something where I can get some space from it all is probably a good idea.

The Instagram Edit – Can you share 9 pics from Insta that sum up your life? 



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