Jack Clarkson was born in Silsden in 1906. He began his art training at Keighley School of Art in 1921 and won a Scholarship to the Royal College of Art in 1927. Here, between 1927 and 1930, he studied under Gilbert Ledward and Henry Moore. Moore was particularly influential in encouraging both his painting and sculpture.
From 1930 he was Head of the Sculpture at Sheffield College of Art. In 1945 he was appointed Principal of Newcastle-under-Lyme Art School, a position he held until his retirement until 1968.
When he retired he continued to live in Newcastle-under-Lyme devoting his time to wood-carving birds and human forms. The industrial landscape of The Potteries inspired many of his oil paintings and the figures in the scenes are often shown as being dwarfed by the factories around them.
He exhibited his work widely, including the Royal Academy, Royal Society of Arts, and the Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield.
His work is in the permanent collections of the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, the Laing Art Gallery, County Hall, Newport, Isle of Wight, and at Cartwright Hall, Bradford.