Author: Alicia Muir

Q&A with Nessie Ramm

Nessie Ramm is a Sussex-based contemporary landscape artist with a passion for plants. From flattened drinks cans to abandoned road signs, Nessie upcycles and breathes life and colour into detritus with the adornment of flowers. We were thrilled to get a chance to learn more about Nessie's practice, inspirations and love for nature. 

Q&A with Nessie Ramm | Image

Countryfile, Feb 2023

AR: We are so excited to welcome you to Art Republic. Can you start by telling us a bit about your art practice - where did your love of art begin, and did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

I have always loved both plants and art, right from the beginning. But I didn’t really think it was possible to be an artist full time - I thought making art would always be my hobby. So I studied plant science, then gave myself a year of doing art while I worked out what to do next. The year became two, then three… and I’m still making art 25 years later!

AR: What are your main influences? Are there any artists which have particularly inspired you?

There are so many- from both the science and art worlds. The microscopes I used in my science degree opened my eyes to a hidden world and I drew upon scientific images in my early plant paintings - Ernst Haeckel and Karl Blossfeldt in particular. I love botanical illustrators of course - especially Marianne North who combined her studies of plants with the natural landscapes they were growing in - an amazing skill. I thoroughly recommend a visit to the gallery which houses her paintings at Kew. For landscapes I always turn to Stanley Spencer and Eric Ravilious for inspiration - both captured the English countryside with such exquisite vision.

Q&A with Nessie Ramm | Image

Countryfile, Feb 2023

AR: Your intricate wildflower paintings are so detailed and completely mesmerising. You are obviously very knowledgeable about natural science and nature, is accuracy important to you?

The variety in nature is so much a part of its beauty. Each plant in a verge, each ‘weed’ in a lawn belongs to a particular named species, with its own role in the ecosystem, and a host of tiny creatures that depend on it. Our size generally means we overlook these smaller, less charismatic things - we focus on bigger things - or what’s colourful, cute or impressive in some way. Yet without each little thing something is lost from the system and it doesn’t function so well. We are in danger of losing a great deal of biodiversity at the moment, which is not only careless but also incredibly foolish because it will ultimately impact on us. As part of my practice I grow wildflower plants from local seed to reintroduce into local wild verges. I am also donating a proportion of the profits from the sale of my prints to the charity Plantlife, to support them in their work of conserving our wild plants.

AR: It was fascinating to learn of the abundance of wildflowers that you have discovered across the country on road verges. Do you have a favourite flower that you are particularly happy when you find?

There are lots of plants I’ve only ever seen on road verges. Finding orchids is always magical - like finding treasure. They often pop up in odd places; my first ever bee orchid was on a roundabout in Arundel. Cowslips are also a favourite as they were the first roadverge flower that I really noticed - growing alongside the A24 in the South Downs.

Q&A with Nessie Ramm | Image

Reduce Speed Now by Nessie Ramm

Q&A with Nessie Ramm | Image

AR: What is your process? Do you work from photographs, sketches, or outside?

The starting point is a photo of a specific road verge somewhere, taken on one of my hikes. A verge will catch my eye if it’s got a good variety of plants and I’ll photograph it to record that - all the leaf shapes and different greens. The photo will form the basis of my composition but I always have a jar of leaves on my table to refer to - it makes my painting more lively.

AR: We love how you transform litter into things of beauty, do you think that working with found items and objects will always be a fundamental part of your practice?

My use of found objects has grown as my unease with the environmental crisis has grown. I feel more comfortable re-using existing objects, if I possibly can, than bringing new objects into the world.

Art by its very nature transforms everyday materials - like stone, clay, fabric, metal, and pigments - into something of significance, beauty and value. So transforming a squashed can or dumped sign into an artwork is very much in this tradition. However, there is extra satisfaction in starting with a piece of litter; what we throw away says so much about our species and culture.

Q&A with Nessie Ramm | Image

Countryfile, Feb 2023

AR: You work on very varied scales, from your small ‘Roadkill cans’, to some of your larger ‘Road Verge Paintings’, do you have a preference?

I think it’s great to mix it up a little. I love getting engrossed in a large piece, but by the end of it, I’m exhausted and ready for something smaller. Small pieces allow me to be experimental and keep my ideas moving forward.

AR: Do you have a favourite artwork? If so, why?

My favourite is always the piece I’m working on at the time!

Q&A with Nessie Ramm | Image

Countryfile, Feb 2023

AR: We can’t wait to see what you do next; how do you see your art developing in the future?

I have many more road verges to paint! I’d like to make work based on the M25, and A21 (such glamorous locations!)

I’ve always wanted to make prints alongside my oil paintings but I didn’t know where to start. I’m looking forward to working with Art Republic on some experimental editions, combining different printmaking techniques to make something really special.

Looking for a beautiful floral print to bring the outdoors into your home? Head over to Nessie's collection now. 

Images courtesy of Countryfile Magazine. 

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