Anna-Mercedes Wear – the people’s potter

Anna-Mercedes Wear
Anna-Mercedes Wear in her studio 2016
Anna-Mercedes Wear in her studio 2016

Story by Nico Hall and Anne Smithies | Photos by Ben Boswell

The ceramicist Anna-Mercedes Wear died this September of cancer at St Luke’s Hospice with family beside her. Anna lived in Firth Park and had her art studio at Manor Oaks. Well known in Burngreave and Sheffield for her distinctive work, teaching and community activities, Anna is also nationally recognised for her art and has exhibited throughout the UK. Anna was born in London in 1965. Her mother was Irish and her father Russian. Anna was proud being the child of immigrant parents. Before settling in Sheffield in 1995, Anna moved around the UK. She grew up in Sussex, did an HND in ceramics in Croydon, a degree in Edinburgh and was artist in residence in Farnham.

She worked with the cerebral palsy charity Paces Sheffield. Anna, Richard (husband) and their two children, who attended St Catherine’s and Fir Vale schools, lived in Firth Park from 2000. Anna had ambition. She wasn’t happy if she wasn’t being creative and making a difference. She was always looking out for opportunities to do so, while encouraging and supporting others to do so too. Anna was passionate about families and concerned with women’s issues. She loved the outdoors; walking the Sheffield outskirts and spending time on her allotment with her children making (and sharing) homemade preserves.

Anna worked as a community artist in schools and community groups. She was involved in the Firth Park and Abbeyfield Festivals, Burngreave Voices project, delivering workshops on Christmas wreaths, lantern making and willow projects, including the willow dome at the Firth Park Clock Tower. She taught pottery classes through the WEA at Fir Vale and Firth Park schools, independently her own studio and at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Anna exhibited her sculptures at Cupola Gallery locally, from Sussex to Scotland and at annual ceramic fairs nationwide.

The last show that Anna attended was the Earth & Fire International Ceramic Fair in June 2018 held at The Harley Gallery near Worksop. Visitors were asked to vote for their favourite potter. Anna won the 2018 People’s Potter award.