Welcome to our series, ‘Meet the Entrepreneur’, where we meet entrepreneurs and start-ups from the Channel Islands. We find out what they are doing, what ‘drives’ them and what advice they would give anyone starting out in business.
Today, we meet Heather Brown, artist and founder of Jersey-based RampArts
Heather attended Highlands College Jersey, focusing on Advanced Art and Design, before taking a Fine Art Degree at Bournemouth Arts Institute. Heather works as an IP Renewals Manager at RenewalsDesk and is also the founder, owner and director of RampArts Jersey.
Heather tells us , I finished my Fine Art degree specialising in installation art, a not-so-common medium given the complexity and effort involved.
Past projects include sourcing internal and external spaces to work in, ranging from trees in public spaces, to toilet cubicles on campus. I’ve collaborated with carpenters to erect rooms to work in, textile businesses to obtain fabric to wrap walls, retailers to supply wigs and outfits, photographers to capture the environment and clubs to host one-night events staging role plays and take overs.
Whilst living in London I created a miniature mock-up space in the converted piano factory where I lived in Hackney. It provided me with a small form of creative freedom, to dream up my big ideas!
I established the RampArts art collective in 2015. It started off as a conversation with creative friends, all struggling to find direction and motivate themselves to finish something! I wrote a brief, secured a location to exhibit from and the ball started rolling!
I wanted to create a community, to generate inspiration, throw ideas around, reach out and see how far we could go together! Since then, the collective has grown, the variety of creatives involved has expanded, and it gets more and more exciting every day. There is a real thirst for involvement, artists have come to launches and asked to join, I get emails and messages asking for help and information. I’s really shed light on a need for a creative outlet of this kind and I am so grateful for the support and confidence in RampArts Jersey.
When did you first realise you were artistic?
I was creative from a young age, copying Disney characters off my VHS boxes and writing poetry in textbooks stolen from school, I knew I would always have art in my life, it’s been an emotional outlet and provided a clear pathway for me.
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue the arts further?
At secondary school, Art was my favourite class and I knew at that point I would go onto study Advanced Art and Design at college, I found my voice and my confidence there and worked hard to gain a place at University to study Fine Art.
University in Bournemouth opened my eyes to the art world, I developed a hunger for it, and set my sights on London.
How did you achieve this?
Once I graduated, I returned to Jersey and an opportunity came up to submit a proposal to the Arts Council to secure a temporary studio space at Westmount (now developed into housing). I was successful and grateful for a creative space I could access 24/7 and share with like minded creatives from all walks of life.
We had jewellers, carpenters, sculptors, painters a great mix of experience and skill. This provided a creative base whilst I worked 2 jobs to save for my move to London. Within 11 months I was ready, found people to live with on Gumtree and landed in Hackney raring to go!
Can you explain the technical side of your work?
Installation art involves a lot of networking. Sourcing a space to work in can be complicated, third parties are often involved, with authorisation and permissions required before getting started.
Generally, I would visualise an idea and match this to a location appropriate with the works. Once established, I’d try and gain materials in exchange for advertising, or collaborate with other creatives to produce the completed pieces at a low cost. The size of the installation would depend on the location, sometimes they would be perishable, left to decompose or weather away, whereas others would be installed to a deadline, and then dismantled.
The same rules apply to RampArts Jersey projects. My passion sits within the detail and meeting so many wonderful artists, musicians, and writers, bonded by our love of art and music.
Where have you exhibited or sold your work already?
As a collective we have exhibited island-wide, collaborating with local businesses like The Yard and other creative platforms like the Song Writers Society, to celebrate local talent. This involves writing briefs, selecting artists, collaborating with sponsors, and getting sign-off on proposals and timelines.
We currently have a ‘Revolving Wall’ incentive with Common Ground, each month we rotate the artwork, mixing up themes and artforms, featuring new RampArtists and reaching out to others who wouldn’t necessarily have the means or the confidence to network their skills themselves.
Last month we were able to share our exhibition at The Bar Gallery in The Jersey Arts Centre via virtual tour, enabling viewers to enjoy the experience safely from the comfort of their own home. It featured four of our female RampArtists work in resin, collage, illustration, ceramic art and paintings!
We have also launched our latest Mural Project, spread over three east side locations, the parish of St.Clement and Grouville have kindly permitted RampArts Jersey to revamp and brighten up these public spaces! There will be a public announcement very soon sharing the artists involved and their designs. We look forward to the island supporting our efforts and joining us in celebrating the vast amount of creative talent we have here.
How has Covid affected RampArts? Have you been able to do anything online?
Due to Covid, I haven’t actually met all of my RampArtists. Some have had work in exhibitions, but I haven’t had the opportunity to meet them all in person yet!
We were able to share a virtual tour of our Bar Gallery exhibition at The Jersey Arts Centre. It was fantastic to enable a safe viewing of our work from home, at a time when you couldn’t go into Cafejac to see it.
For our collaboration with Common Ground, we have created ‘social media launches’ each month, in line with the revolving artwork. The artists involved with that particular wall are posted as our ‘featured artist’ promoting their RampArts profile and providing a little more information about them and the inspiration behind what they create. It allowed us to continue to collaborate and share exhibitions without having visit the café directly.
What would you like the States of Jersey to do to support entrepreneurs and the arts?
I try not to get too political with what I do with RampArts Jersey, we like to reach out to artists who might not have the confidence to share their work with the island, and offer our collective to charities and community projects, to inspire children, and spread a positive creative message.
There is a need for free artist networking and collaborative opportunities that reach out to everyone on a creative level. As a young or up and coming artist in Jersey, it can often be difficult to know who to turn to with creative questions, you might have an idea but are unsure of the direction to take it.
There is a hunger among local artists to find shared creative spaces, away from a laptop and hot desk, somewhere with a sink and high walls, big enough to contain the boldest and dirtiest of artistic ideas! I wish there were a way the government could connect these needs and available spaces on the island together.
What do you do in your downtime?
I take great pleasure from organising and managing RampArts Jersey projects, as I also work full time,. I tend to do this in my down time, but when I can, I like to illustrate and paint in watercolours. Recently I have been playing with the introduction of rosegold leaf and glitter, to add texture and depth.
How can people buy your work?
You can take a look at the tremendous body of work created by our RampArtists via our Website. If anyone would like to purchase or commission works they can do so by getting in touch via the Contact page.
Get in touch with RampArts
We encourage anyone with a creative thread, who might like to shed some light on their talents to get in touch too. There is creativity in every corner of every parish, and we want to raise our hands and grab it the attention it deserves!
Are you a Channel Islands entrepreneur/startup who would like to be featured in Channel Eye? If so, please drop an email to email@example.com