Yorkshire jeweller becomes an unexpected tourist attraction - in the Falkland Islands

From June to October, Alice Clarke works out of a studio surrounded by the rolling hills of Nidderdale.

Alice Clarke's jewellery business has become an unexpected tourist attraction in the Falkland Islands.

For the rest of the year, she looks out on an equally picturesque scene – only the backdrop is the Falkland Islands where the Yorkshire jeweller’s business has become an unexpected tourist attraction.

The 29-year-old began splitting her time between North Yorkshire and the South Atlantic three years ago after meeting her partner Dan Biggs, a seventh generation Falkland Islander, when he was working as a PE teacher at Nidderdale High School.

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She had initially intended to spend her time helping her partner establish a new outdoor adventure business, but after being offered a studio space and opening a shop, she has now become the first stop-off point for the thousands of cruise ship passengers and tourists who visit the archipelago each year.

One of Alice Clarke's pieces

Ms Clarke, who trained at the renowned Birmingham School of Jewellery, said: “Dan’s mum works for The Penguin News newspaper (in the Falkland Islands) and when their little union office became empty she suggested I should inquire about setting up a workshop there.

“I hadn’t quite realised how big tourism is over here. During the main season we can get four cruise ships stopping off each day. Each carries up to 3,000 passengers which is more than the population of the capital of Stanley.

“They come from all over the world and they love my accent and the story of how I ended up here.”

Despite the pandemic halting the cruise industry, 2020 was Ms Clarke’s busiest year to date with orders both from locals on the island and overseas private commissions booming.

She said: “I have really immersed myself in nature over here. I launched a new collection called Archipelago which is inspired by the flora and fauna here, particularly the patterns of the giant sea kelp and ferns.

“Living here has definitely influenced my practice. Many of my pieces showcase the semi-precious agates which wash up on the stores here. They are really beautiful and I get them finished by a stone-cutter based in Ilkley which is nice, as it feels as though the two parts of my life come together in my work.”

Ms Clarke made her name using statement pieces which had been stained using tea and included wool from Wensleydale sheep.

She is continuing to experiment with the fleece of the Falkland Islands’ flock and, having learnt to sea kayak, she is determined to incorporate more of the landscape in her work.

She added: “When I first moved out here I did worry that I would miss the Yorkshire hills and Pateley Bridge, but very quickly I fell in love with the ocean. From my studio I can see the mountains in the background and sometimes a group of sea lions or dolphins will swim by.

“It’s a very special place and perhaps because it’s a farming community you get that same homely feeling as you do back in Yorkshire. The only difference is that while the Falkland Islands is definitely more remote, I am closer here to the nearest shop than I am back home in Yorkshire.”

Travel restrictions permitting, Ms Clarke hopes to make the 16-hour flight back home in June to continue her business working out of a purpose-built studio in the garden of her parents’ home.

She said: “I definitely feel like I could spend the full year in the Falkland Islands, but at the moment I am enjoying having the best of both worlds.”