‘If art inspires you and stimulates your emotions, then that’s good enough for me’

Jasmine Rose Noel, owner of JARO, which is based in the Parade Picture: ROB CURRIE (37465368)

Owner of JARO Jasmine Rose Noel speaks to Emily Moore about why the town-based gallery is about more than just sharing a passion for art

AS she strolls around her gallery, introducing the artists and stories behind their work, Jasmine Rose Noel pauses in front of a piece by Mr Controversial.

Painted over a blue background is the simple, yet poignant, expression: Follow your dreams, they know the way.

For Jasmine, not only is this piece of art one which she would happily hang in her own home but the sentiment behind it is one which has particular resonance for her.

“I have always loved art,” reflected the founder of JARO gallery. “I studied it at GCSE and A-level but, at that time, I had no idea that you could make a career from it. Even now, a lot of really talented young people study fine art at university and then come back to Jersey and work in the finance industry. I am really hoping that JARO will help emerging artists, both from the Island and further afield, to build a career from their passion.”

Jasmine says that she has always had a passion for art Picture: ROB CURRIE (37465382)

Unaware in her teenage years of the potential opportunities that the art world could offer, Jasmine studied architecture at university after attending school in Switzerland.

“I’m from Jersey originally but when my parents were considering my education, they were struck by the lack of private co-educational schools in the Island,” she reflected.

“They found a great school in Switzerland, which I absolutely loved. Mum moved out with me to see how I would settle in and, after two weeks, I said: “That’s it; I’m staying here.” The teacher was from Guernsey and there were only four students in the year group, so my school days were like an epic sleepover with my three best friends.”

Returning to Jersey after graduating, Jasmine worked as an interior designer, a position which both reinforced her love of art and showed her how different works can complement and transform a space.

“Even now, I love it when people move to the Island and are decorating a home and ask me to find artwork for each room,” she said. “It can be a very emotional journey, finding pieces which both elicit a positive reaction from them and which work in the space.”

And it is the way which paintings make people feel – something often reinforced by the story behind the paint – which sits at the heart of Jasmine’s approach to JARO.

Four Jugs by Ariel Luke Picture: ROB CURRIE (37651039)

“Although there are other galleries in Jersey, they are not on the high street and are not generally designed for people to pop into whenever they are passing,” she explained. “I want JARO to be an open space where people can just walk in and feel inspired. It is not just about selling art but about interesting people in the different media, the artists and the stories behind them.

“For example, one piece in the current exhibition by Ariel Luke looks, at first glance, like four jugs. It was only when Ariel described the piece to me that I understood each jug represented a family member, with the two in the middle depicting her reaching up to kiss her husband, and the jugs on each end of the row representing their children.”

Jasmine’s own introduction to art galleries came shortly after the birth of her second child seven years ago.

“My dad is an art collector and I used to go to lots of auctions with him,” she reflected. “Shortly after the birth of my second son, a gallery owner came to the house to look at dad’s art collection. When he arrived, I was cradling a newborn baby and it felt like I hadn’t had a proper ‘adult’ conversation for several days. As a result, I chatted to him for ages and at the end of the conversation, he said: ‘You’re very knowledgeable; come and work for me.’”

Instantly enamoured with the work, Jasmine went on to work for some galleries in the East End of London but, as she said, “it was too exhausting travelling backwards and forwards all the time, spending some nights in London and some nights here with the children”.

But while the constant travel proved too demanding to maintain, the experience left Jasmine in no doubt about her career aspirations, although she did encounter some challenges along the way.

“I admit now that I under-estimated just how much would be involved in getting my own gallery off the ground,” she smiled. “While I don’t have any problems sourcing the artwork, talking to artists and clients and creating a nice space which looks and feels good, the background work was a lot more demanding than I had expected,”

Despite the challenges, JARO opened its doors on the Parade at the end of August.

“I had been selling art directly to people who knew me and from various pop-up locations for a while when my business partner mentioned that this property was available,” she said. “As soon as I saw it, I knew that it was the perfect space, with the symmetry of the door resembling a London gallery, and the space getting larger as you move towards the back.

“It is a perfect quaint and quiet spot, perfect not just for displaying art and holding exhibitions but also for events, something which is important to me, as I really want to create an interactive and welcoming space, where people will be inspired by the art and the creative atmosphere.”

To this end, Jasmine hosts regular life-drawing events – “they are lovely sessions, almost like a form of meditation, as you are both relaxed and concentrating in something at the same time” – as well as using the gallery for weekly Pilates classes and monthly WHM breathing and ice bath workshops, run by a teacher certified in the Wim Hof method.

JARO is currently exhibiting the work of artist Ariel Luke Picture: ROB CURRIE (37651035)

Describing the way in which she sources the art for JARO, Jasmine says: “I focus on contemporary modern art, from emerging European artists whose work I either find beautiful, or whose message I like or who I think will be a good investment. The exhibition running at the moment [from 21 March to 20 April] is by Ariel Luke, who has flown all over the world painting people’s gardens.

“Her work has been exhibited alongside that of Henri Matisse and, having got to know her in the build-up to the exhibition, I have been struck by her message and beautiful outlook on life. In JARO, her work is positioned alongside that of her daughter, Poppy Whatmore, a London-based sculptor who is doing amazingly well. The Saatchi Gallery has invested in her work, featuring her in its permanent collection, so it is quite a coup for us to have this mother-and-daughter exhibition in Jersey.”

The timing of the event is also significant for Jasmine.

“Spring is a super-important time to me, representing energy and rebirth, something which I think everyone needs to feel this year after such a horrible winter, weather-wise,” she said. “Spring also has a special significance for me because when my son was born, he needed heart surgery and I remember going to London with him for treatment and thinking that when we came back, the daffodils would be out, it would be a new time and we would be starting afresh.

“Art gives the same sense of positive energy that you get from the sunshine and the dawn of spring, so it is great that we are able to stage this exhibition now and I hope it will be inspiring and mentally stimulating for people, giving them something to talk about when they leave.”

As part of the exhibition, and linked with Jasmine’s desire to introduce children to art from an early age, Ariel is offering a portrait service for children.

“I am really keen to get families involved, so we are inviting them to arrange a time to come into the portrait studio, where the children can have their photo taken and then Ariel will paint their portrait from the pictures,” Jasmine explained.

With further exhibitions already in the pipeline for the rest of the year, Jasmine has a busy few months ahead.

“I want to keep the offer fresh and I also want to showcase the work of as many artists as I can,” she said. “Because I am constantly meeting people in the art world, I want to be the link between Jersey and the international art scene, bringing back the pieces I love and sharing them with people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to see them.

“Some of these pieces may grow in value and prove good investments but, for me, the priority is having something which makes you feel happy. I like artwork that inspires me and makes me feel good, and I want things in my home which make me feel peaceful, calm, happy and empowered, so I tend to choose work from artists who have a similar life motto. After all, the art world can be very pretentious and there can be a tendency to over-analyse everything but if art inspires you and stimulates an emotional response, that’s good enough for me.”

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