Heath was born in Chesterfield, near Sheffield, and grew up amongst the red brick houses of an urbanised post-industrial environment, nestled amid the rolling and iconic landscape of Yorkshire, a dichotomy that has been apparent in his work ever since he started painting.
He grew up with the harsh realities of the coal mining industry; his father was a miner for a time and his grandfather had died in a coal mine near the North Derbyshire village called Heath. As an artist he is largely self-taught, having dropped out of Australia's Perth College of Art and Design, where he studied between 1983-1984. This gave him a diffidence that kept him from pursuing galleries and dealers and allowed him to build a personal vision and a body of work away from the scrutiny of critics and collectors and the vagaries of artistic fashions.
When he first started painting full-time he was part of a loose group of artists working in Plymouth's quaint and historic Barbican waterfront, among whom were Robert Lenkiewicz and Diane Nevitt. In 1998 he moved to Jersey, which he describes as going into hiding. Despite this he soon drew the attention of wealthy patrons, who started buying the paintings inspired by his new surroundings.
People have likened his work to the St Ives School, notably Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and Ivon Hitchens. Other art historical threads that the viewer can glean include Fauvism and the Scottish Colourists, naïve primitivism and the more experimental Expressionists.