Hello my names Andrew. I'm an Artist and Designer and I run Bright Stem.
The best way to explain what it is I do at Bright Stem is to understand how I see the world. I'm dyslexic meaning my brain processes 'things' more through images than text. Images don't have any classification or specific meaning unless you assign them one. So my mind naturally jumps from one thing to the next creating webs of interconnected images. The best way to visualise this process is the mind maps I create.
When it comes to creative projects therefore I find it impossible to define what it is I do under any specific discipline. Because one minute I'm working on a small sculpture which easily turns into a children's toy, which just as easily could be a piece of public art, or the inspiration behind a children's book and on and on and on like that.
Therefore Bright Stem was set up to create an environment in which I can naturally function within. Where different things can come into contact with one another allowing ideas to develop across multiple disciplines. It's also somewhere for me to present these different projects alongside one another. Allowing the public to see the connections made between them.
When I started Bright Stem I was already running another small family business where I created handmade fabric sew on badges. So it was natural for one of the first products to be a set of badges. Because of this I know from first hand experience the skill, time and effort involved with making a quality product. So from the outset I wanted to make sure that other people who made Bright Stem products would also be paid a fair wage and have good working conditions. Alongside this commitment to workers rights I have also always believed that we must all try to develop a more sustainable future. One where individuals and businesses work in close relationship with there natural environment.
One of the ways I address these issues is by getting my products made from within the UK or Ireland. This means the products have a shorter distance to travel which is better for the environment and there are more regulations around working conditions and fair pay.
I then try to work with businesses that share my aspirations and use ethically sourced materials wherever possible. For example the greeting cards have been printed with vegetable inks on recycled card using a carbon neutral printer. Whilst the tote bags (which have been printed by myself) are made from unbleached cotton and a proportion of there manufacturing costs is donated to two charities. The Prince's Trust in the UK, and the WBC Foundation directly supporting the Indian communities that makes the range.
So whether I'm developing new creative projects or developing solutions to ethical concerns its all one in the same.
Bright Stem is based on the top floor of Conway Mill in Belfast. From my studio I have a beautiful view of the city and green hills that surround it. I help run a pop up shop along with the other artists at the mill 3-4 times a year and visitors are welcome to pop in at other times but please send a message before hand.
Bright Stem, Conway Mill, 5-7 Conway Street, Belfast, BT6 8JU