Ian Berry CCTV Installation on Regents Street, London / by Ian Berry

Ian Berry has been busy over the last six months making a life sized installation of a CCTV control room. With London being the most watched city in the world, Ian wanted to make a comment on this. Most people in the UK just see surveillance as just part of everyday life, whereas many people in other countries are confused at how relaxed we are with it. We'd say most people in London see it as making them safer, while respecting some people's views of how it could be used to misuse. In truth, no CCTV camera was used for this, instead over a dozen days of photoshoots around West London, actually taken from the winter to the final few in summer. This has been a project a year in the making and has been six months in the studio producing. With photoshoots up ladders to look down to get that voyeuristic angle and, well, sorry to say, a few using a selfie stick to create the same effect. 

Ian Berry has been busy over the last six months making a life sized installation of a CCTV control room. With London being the most watched city in the world, Ian wanted to make a comment on this. Most people in the UK just see surveillance as just part of everyday life, whereas many people in other countries are confused at how relaxed we are with it. We'd say most people in London see it as making them safer, while respecting some people's views of how it could be used to misuse.

In truth, no CCTV camera was used for this, instead over a dozen days of photoshoots around West London, actually taken from the winter to the final few in summer. This has been a project a year in the making and has been six months in the studio producing. With photoshoots up ladders to look down to get that voyeuristic angle and, well, sorry to say, a few using a selfie stick to create the same effect. 

Notting Hill Gate Station

Notting Hill Gate Station

And more suitably, the location that house this installation? The new flagship store of Pepe Jeans London on Regents Street. One of London's most famous shopping streets and a stones throw (even Ian could throw that far) from Piccadilly Circus, possibly one of the most CCTV hot spots in the world.

Pepe Jeans have just opened up their new flagship store in Central London and this piece was central to its design by acclaimed Martin Brudnizki Design Studio. The CCTV cameras focus on West London, where Pepe was formed in 1973 on the Portobello Road, which is 'watched' heavily on the monitors. It then tracks a journey from W11 to central London, Oxford Street, Piccadilly and then to the new store at 57 Regents Street.

Ian says: 'Pepe Jeans is all about London. They first bought a piece from my gallery in 2013 and we had a friendly relationship before that and had actually first met in 2012 and they have been really good to me, sending me many pairs of jeans. They have since bought other works from the exhibitions and put them in various stores, officers and showrooms - they saw and appreciated it as art.  Its a good chance for people who don't go to gallery shows to see the real work. I want more people to see the real work, and not just replicated in differwnt media forms.

Ian_Berry_Pepe_Jeans

'So, they wanted a specific piece for the Regent Street store but I had complete freedom to make what I wanted, not trying to dictate anything. I said it should be something that could stand alone in a gallery as well as a store.'

CCTV_control_room_Pepe

And that he has. This incredibly detailed work comprising 16 'screens' most of which have four in between has been painstaking in the production. In the centre of the piece is a TV screen, showing Ian's work and him in the studio from a vantage of a CCTV camera. It also enables Pepe to use it sometimes for campaign imagery.

Notting Hill Gate Station escalators

Notting Hill Gate Station escalators

But, whats the idea? says Ian 'Having got to know Pepe Jeans London well over the last few years and of course knowing them since my younger days, I know they are all about London. All that West London feel and aesthetic and aspiration. Their great campaigns all on the streets of West London, especially Portobello Road. It has such a good heritage routed there, of course, London doesn't have that many outright denim brands. But it's not just the heritage, they are forever looking at London for inspiration and this is my core feeling when making the piece.

'The control room is almost imagining them having it to keep monitoring the fashions of London to take inspiration from the street style of this great capital to keep evolving with the fast moving city'

With scenes including Portobello Roads famous Electric Cinema and market street, to some of the local pubs and music stores, showing some of the places the West Londoner would be hanging out. Ian says:

'As its the tourist area of London on Regent street and many of the customers coming in will probably be the many visitors to London I did think, they are not familiar perhaps with the West London scenes and wanted to add a few familiar sights, ones which I wouldn't normally do, but I think would catch the attention in the store - and perfect with the location.'

That's how the idea was born to make it the journey to the new store and he brilliantly utilizes the famous ad board of Piccadilly Circus which you can see from the store window as well as the iconic streets of Regents and Oxford which will bring the familiar to those less familiar with the city. And of course, all out of this familiar material - but one so unusual and unexpected as an art form that Ian has perfected for well over a decade.

Go and have a look again at this very contemporary art piece showing Ian's favorite subject of urban life and living out of the material of our time. Denim jeans.

You can view the piece daily at the Pepe Jeans flagship store at 59-61 Regents Street, London.

You can see a photo gallery here