Crowland craftsman and artisan

Clark Watling in his workshop studio.
Clark Watling in his workshop studio.
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Clark Watling was written off at school in Crowland when he was just 12 years old.

His parents were told their son would be lucky to make it as a dustman, but thankfully they knew better.

Clark (48), who still lives near Crowland, says he was at school at a time when there was “no such thing as dyslexia”.

Eventually, he received the diagnosis and from 13 to 17 went to a boarding school that specialised in pupils with his disorder.

Teachers there helped him to catch up but Clark always knew he would do better with his natural artistic abilities – fine-tuned during early school years when words on a blackboard meant nothing, so instead of copying the text, Clark simply re-created what he saw in picture format.

A short-lived job as YTS painter and decorator and then as a car body repairer followed school, but by the time he was 24 Clark knew what he really wanted to do with his life.

With support from The Prince’s Trust, he set up his own business making jewellery. He worked out of a block of stables at Thorpe Hall, before it was sold to Sue Ryder.

Working with other artists and artisans, Clark picked up skills as he worked, quickly expanding his repertoire to carpentry and silversmithing, both things he had done at school, as well as painting and drawing.

The next ten years were happily spent there, learning as he went along and discovering that if there was anything he didn’t know, he could find out.

Commissions that gave lasting pleasure were a model for Richard Branson of his first plane, a Boeing 747, commissioned by a Peterborough centre the business magnate was visiting, and another for Prince Charles, of a jewellery box, when he officially opened another facility in the city.

Clark has been self-employed since then, these days working from a studio at his home, where he produces carvings, sculptures and other 3D objects in wood and other materials, as well as teaching in Peterborough.

Many commissions are one-offs, such as the gravestone depicting a man, his wife and their pet dog and rabbit, or personalised car mascots for Louis Lejeune Ltd.

Contact him at