Ian Berry's Secret Garden at the CMA was live on the Mother Nature Network with Starre Vartan interviewing Museum Curator Jil Weinstock and Newlin Tillotson head of Social Media.
Ian Berry at the Children's Museum of Arts in New York
We have just returned to London after a busy December in the States. Ian had shows at Miami Basel and then he was in New York to open his Secret Garden Installation at the Children's Museum of the Arts in Manhattan.
Over many days Ian and a team of helpers installed this incredible Secret Garden installation at the Chelsea based Museum. The museum that has served hundreds of thousands of Children and has the mission 'to introduce children and their families to the transformative power of the arts by providing opportunities to make art side-by-side with working artists.'
And over the years, Ian has had a similar mission. He has worked with schools to do projects, and teachers write to him when they do lessons on him. He enjoys getting mails from kids who have made work inspired by him.
'I remember growing up in the north of England, I don't really remember getting much inspiration of artists working. Yes, they are there, but I didnt see it. It was more the 'local artist' normally retired amatuer you'd come across. But one day my dad took me to David Hockney's Saltaire at about 12 or 13 and it was so inspiring seeing someone from the same area I was from doing so well.'
Ian says he wishes he could be young again to go to somewhere like the CMA. It is a truly amazing place for young minds, and their parents. There are teaching artists there with many different work rooms, for all ages up to 16. They can learn to work in many different ways, often inspired by the artwork on display - Ellan Harvey also shows alongside Ians work. We think it is important for children to interact with Arts, especially with school budgets tightening and the arts being one of the biggest to suffer.
'crazy when you think both our countries excel in creative fields and really lead the world. Yet, we are constantly told at school that arts are a hobby with visions of the starving artist.' Ian Says.
The installation that you can walk through, on top of a denim path is filled with various flowers and plants, from roses to cacti, wisteria to chrysanthemum all made out of jeans. You'll find denim tools and also a hare, peering through, unafraid of the children about to run through.
But the most impressive part is the trellis coming down from the ceiling. Hundreds of vines and leaves dangling, as if taking over the museum. Part looking like a magical urban secret garden, part looking like the place has been abandoned and left for the nature to take over. The flowers hanging and the butterflies lead to an almost Alice in Wonderland fantasy world that the kids and parents alike have been amazed by.
The installation for the Bridge Project was inspired by thinking of childhood. Immediately Ian thought of playing outside at his Yorkshire hometown. He feels now children play less outside and interact and look less at the nature around. Kids are obsessed with tech with ipads and instant gratification and the games played are not with balls and dirty knees but with thumbs the only strength needed with video consoles.
'Sadly too I also feel that with the stresses of life parents even spend less time with their kids, even if they are with them, they may be distracted by their phones and the constant fear of missing something.'
'I only wonder what this may do to tiny minds seeing people always glued to their phones and screens'
He had noticed in the past that when recreating familiar scenes people took for granted, out of a material so common, people saw it differently and revalued it. He would love for the parent and child to walk through together so that when they do go through parks and gardens they will look at them more closely.
'I also thought that while in many other way New York would be one of the most inspiring cities for a child to live in, many kids wouldn't have gardens. Yes, there are places to go and famous parks with amazing open space and the High Line too, but perhaps it may inspire parents to find a little secret garden near to them'
In a interesting opening to the garden, Ian shows a cotton plant and explains that this is where the jeans we wear first comes from. Not bad going from plants to pants, to plants again.
Ian will return in April 2018 to help to take some classes based on his work.
We'd also like to place on record the thanks to the museum, Tonello, Cone denim, NYC factory and Christine Rucci for all the help in the making of the Secret Garden along with dozens of other assistants.
The installation is up until April.
Children's Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton St. NYC 212.274.0986
For 35 years they have been a reference point for the most important laundry and dyeing companies and for fashion brands all over the world. And now for artist Ian Berry. And we would like to place our thanks for their support.
Forever evolving their Technology, together with the market, they are making always reliable, safe and sustainable technology that respects the environment and that consumes less energy, few additives, and indeed little of everything. They are behind ever improving production processes all without compromising on quality
Their garment finishing machines have become established over the world for the quality of their all-Italian manufacture, and for their flexibility and top-level performance. Everything that runs through the company has the thoughts of sustainability and the environment in mind and this combined with their creativity is what drew Ian and Tonello together.
Ian had known about the Laser Technology for some time, but considered it cheating, away from his all hand made art. But as larger and larger installations came about as well as noticing the advanced tech he had a change of heart.
'I've always been proud to say, it's made by just denim, glue and hands with scissors in, no bleach, no dye, no paint. It's been a very time consuming process making the work I do. I also saw the laser machine at first with its burnt marks and often looking flat. However, with the washing techniques of someone like Tonello it can really come alive. For me its an art form in itself. After meeting Alice Tonello and Alberto Lucchin a few times we thought it was a perfect time to look into how this could help in my art. Now I see it as a no brainer for things like this, and beside, its the tools that the denim industry is increasingly using so I can too.'
Ian is all too aware of the negative impacts of the denim industry on our planet and is pleased to have worked with a company such as Tonello who is working towards a brighter blue future with methods aimed to help the environmental impact. At their base in Italy Ian had the special Cone Denim washed and lasered with effects to create texture and then lasered much of what you see in the Trellis that hung from the Secret Garden. It would have taken Ian months to hand cut it all, 'beside, it wouldn't have stayed together.' Ian adds
'it is nice that it all went into creating something that environmentally is symbolic and pure, like plants and flowers. Matching the sustainable message, but also in a kids museum, that is the future and that is the future we want, a cleaner one for the future generations. But with the Creative Room, Tonello is all about sharing knowledge and education so I think they have been a perfect partner in this project.'
Tonello's Nicola Cioffi working on Ian's designs. Don't worry, these flames went down.
Ian with Alice Tonello, marketing and R&D head at Tonello and Flavio Tonello CEO Tonello at the Creative Room in Italy.
The Creative Room at Tonello
The Creative Room in Sarcedo, Italy is a special place and a great idea, where technology and creatives can meet from all over the world. Ian visiting a couple of times in the Fall and was welcomed and amazed.
"Inspiring" is both the place – Tonello's new Creative Area – and a way of "being Tonello" today. It is the meeting point between technology and creativity, production and research. Tonello's creations and their experiments will find more and more space: to help clients discover the effects and treatments the machines and technology and to allow customers to undertand how to get the best out of their advanced equipment and to conceive fabrics, denim in particular, as 'canvases on which to paint dreams'.
Ian went to Tonello in Italy, in a region famed for denim and both times Ian was amazed to see the denim names walking through, here with Giovanni Petrin (and Alice Tonello), expert denim insider and former general manager of the Martelli Lavorazioni Tessili Italian specialized laundry and finishing company, who is now working for Crescent Bahuman Ltd (CBL), one of the major denim and garment manufacturers in Pakistan. It is great there is a place that is a melting pot for all these people.