ian Berry

Ian Berry in Selfridges & Co London by Ian Berry

Ian Berry in the Denim Studio in Selfridges

London based artist Ian Berry is currently showing in Selfridges and Co on London’s Oxford Street.

On the 3rd Floor in the world’s largest Denim Section in the ‘Denim Studio’ you’ll find a mini exhibition of Ian’s work that recently showed at the London Art Fair. Showing the new body of work based on the Hollywood Roosevelt in LA. The famed hotel that held the first Oscars is also where David Hockney painted the base of the pool.

The stand has a touch of his Secret Garden installation, with a trellis of flowers and foliage hanging down all made out of denim.

Time lapse of the making of overnight in Selfridges London

The Roosevelt Hotel, LA

The Roosevelt Hotel, LA

Ian’s mini exhibition is to coincide with the Bright New Things program that Selfridges runs to promote sustainability with style with upcoming brands. Ian Berry’s recycled denim masterpieces demonstrates this message and is a theme across the promoted sustainable companies. From swimwear made out of regenerated ocean fishnets, sneakers made from recycled materials and, of course, vintage denim repurposed to make new stylish and fitted pairs with fellow East London designer, Anna Foster with E.L.V. Denim.

Ian Berry’s Self Portrait in London’s Selfridges

Ian Berry’s Self Portrait in London’s Selfridges

Ian says:

‘I’m proud to be a part of a growing denim community here in London where sustainability, quality, as well as positive ethics are at the heart of everything. Since moving back to London I found a really authentic community of talented designers, brands, stores and even a new mill that makes denim here in the UK (OK that’s in Lancashire)’

‘It’s fantastic to be a part of this great community, with people like Mohsin Sajid with Endrime, Snake and Dagger and many more - too many to name - but one of the common threads throughout them all is how Blackhorse Lane Atelier is so central to them and it’s great that they have a factory here in London that is the only craft jean maker in London.’

Denim Designer Anna Foster used the factory in Walthamstow to make her denim out of reused vintage jeans, which cut out the journey time and therefore the carbon footprint. Each jean is made up of two halves of vintage jeans, and is therefore entirely unique in its colour and fit. By reusing denim, it cuts the water intake and obviously breathes new life into something that could have been destined for landfill. E.L.V Denim operates from an ideal of ‘no waste’ and she creates her jeans with barely any environmental impact.

Anna says

I love denim, but not only that I’m passionate about the idea of reusing this functional fabric and reworking it into new styles.’

Ian Berry Selfridges

Ian Berry with the display in Selfridges.

Ian adds

When I started my work, it wasn’t really the sustainable message I was going with although I was a big follower of Al Gore when I started recycling denim. I used it because I felt it is the material of our time and I portray contemporary life. In the last few years sustainability is the new buzz word, which is on one side great - but only when it is used authentically, and not just for marketing. Of course I’m now happy that people talk of me in the way that my work portrays a sustainable message and it can make people think, but while I obviously care for the environment and over the years realised how bad a denim past has been its was never the core reason behind my work. People like Anna and Han at Blackhorse Lane really live and breathe that message and are doing a great job.

Ian Berry X Cone Denim by Ian Berry

Cone-Denim

Written by Ian Berry

There can be no denying the last couple of months have not been easy for Cone. This famed historic Denim Mill announced it would close it's White Oak plant in North Carolina. Why should this be news? All the rest have, and factories are closing down all over the western world. Yet this mill is the last with a denim factory that was a 112-year-old shrine to jeans and the last major manufacturer of selvage denim in the United States. Yes, the last one in the U.S of A.

I know people that have visited and cried when walking in white Oak, walking on the Maple Wood floors that added that something unique to the mystique and texture of the fabric. Micheal Williams (the founder of the influential men’s wear site A Continuous Lean) said it was 'denim done the right way — not mass-produced on modern looms (although the plant has plenty of those too), but painstakingly made on clanking 1940s American Draper X3 shuttle looms that churn out denim featuring a tighter weave, more interesting textures and of course, the de rigueur selvage stitching on the inside seam that jeans lovers proudly reveal by rolling their cuffs.'

It is an end of an era, most will think of the US when thinking of denim, certainly the history, and now they are not, they are not, making it. Its bad news for the over 200 strong staff in Greensboro, so called, 'Jeansboro'. Its not good news for the American Denim industry, nor the tag, All American made, but, whats to blame? 

'Cone Denim - A True Original'

'Cone Denim - A True Original'

As someone who grew up in a textile town in the north of England, you see the past civic pride, the buildings, the community - and the decline. But this is a worldwide wider issue. Of cheaper labour and production in other countries. The consumer has been demanding cheaper products and the High Street has been offering it. To be able to offer a Selvedge for $25 and commoditise the market was never going to be possible to produce in the US or anywhere in the western world. Consumer perception of what a good pair of jeans should cost has changed. Fast Fashion became what it is. Lets have lots cheap than less at quality and craftsmanship, with authenticity and heritage. The denim industry may mourn, but were they buying enough fabric? Perhaps everyone should have a look at why, and perhaps even see what is best for the industry moving forward.

I'm very much on the fringes of this great industry, but surprisingly small industry, where everyone seems to know one another. It may be fanciful but looking in from the outside, how good would it be for some kind of council of denim heads. A united body of industry figures that can also protect or rally in support of an issue. It's a debate for another time, but it would be good to have a body that could certify the sustainable values of a brand or mill, so the consumer knows. They all can make nice mission statements...

I won't pretend to know all the ins and out of the industry, but always one to look at something another way. Should Cone be attacked for the closure, or should they be be given a little well done for being the last one battling to stay open with declining sales of White Oak stock. Now, I'm not going to pretend words here can make any difference in the face of families that now have bread winners out of work. But Cone is a mill brand with an un rivaled history and it is this history that I love in the denim story. The routes of the early miner and worker beginnings that then developed and followed that of pop culture. Cone has been there all along, once the worlds largest mill, and if you have never heard of it - they were the ones that supplied the material for the 501.

The hipster craze over the last decade of selvedge jeans (I got the Telleson and special Cone 501 myself.. but also the Japanese brands) waned and as people tighten their belt, they can now get selvedge in the same place they buy their groceries. Fast fashion reigns, not a good place to be in slow fashion. I bought some of mine knowing I would wear them for a decade, not a night out.

I saw it in my university town where the furniture industry bombed. Any industry would with Ikea in every home. We may say that Jeans are democratic, but do we all want the same, do we all want it cheap - and at what cost - to the workers, to the environment? And of course with a good selvedge, the jeans become unique to the owner with ever fade and evolution. I may be looking at this from an artist point of view, but I respect and value craftsmanship, knowledge, heritage, authenticity.

Do well all want to buy cheap art from the final section in a blue a yellow boxed building, yes, it makes art affordable and accessible to more, but at what cost to original creators? What hope do young un found artists have to sell an original piece when someone compares it to a mass produced print?

Back to Cone, In an official statement it was said

For more than 125 years Cone Denim has defined American denim and authenticity with the White Oak mill representing the essence of Cone’s heritage,” said Kenneth T. Kunberger, President & CEO of Cone Denim and International Textile Group. “We truly regret having to take this action to close the mill, and we deeply appreciate the loyalty and dedication of all current and former employees of the White Oak mill. Their talent, effort, innovation, dedication, and customer focus all combined to create a White Oak brand, heritage, and legacy that will forever be the heart of the Cone Denim business.

The biggest shock that this wasn't on the major networks or papers. Yes, its been in the fashion and denim press, but 'No more American Jean' didn't get a mention. Interesting in a time when I see all the mills wanting consumer knowledge of their names, the one with the biggest brand asset and history didn't even make the mainstream news. It's a sad loss for America and more importantly, the North Carolina community and economy. 

But it is this history that I love and I'm honoured to have used some of the last denim from the mill for this installation in New York and cant thank the kindness of Kara Nicholas at Cone enough for the support in pulling off this piece. For my first New York show, it had to be American Denim. I can only thank them for allowing that opportunity. I hope I did the roll of 7180 Beckett proud.

Ian Berry Secret Garden

At this point, they can only be proud as a company, the workers in N. Carolina, that they were able to bring White Oak and it's magic to the world for as long as they have.  It is so disappointing that timing has run out - but this should make a even more determined effort to keep the spirit alive and to pay tribute to the very special place In Greensboro. The beauty of White Oak is that it has been making denim since 1905 and the history of denim in the US and the history of White Oak are intertwined. The biggest challenge was that it has been making denim since then and has almost 1 million square feet with all of the buildings.

A unrivalled history at Cone Denim

A unrivalled history at Cone Denim

We can mourn the loss, but celebrate that we had it. The outpouring from the denim community showed how much this place was loved. I wish them only the best. I wish all those very very skilled workers the best and heartened to read of stories of others picking them up, and of job fairs put on for them. But in every bad story, springs some hope and a new beginning. The evolution of the jean is not just a famous American fabric, but now a global beast. Ubiquitous, universal, yet people crave difference. You have seen it with Denim before, with whiskey, with Gin now, with micro breweries. What will sprout up from this?

And I'll leave the final message from Cone itself, that through the hard news, they are as Cone, are very much still in business.

From the crafting of authentic, vintage styles to the development of new innovative
technologies, Cone Denim continues to master the art and science of denim with its newest
collections focused on authenticity, sustainability and revolutionary denim performance. We believe that only this passion-filled heritage combined with unparalleled industry knowledge and technical expertise can create the most beautiful denim fabrics in the world.

Cone Denim - a true original.
12JEANS-1-superJumbo.jpg

We'd like to thank Cone Denim for supplying the denim to work with at the Childrens Museum of the Arts installation of the Secret Garden that is open until April 2018 at 103 Charlton Street.

Ian Berry X New York Denim Days by Ian Berry

credit | Lisa Kato

credit | Lisa Kato

Ian was asked to show his work at the inaugural New York Denim Days. It was a great event full of all things denim, and Ian's work was the welcome exhibit into this denim land within the heart on Manhattan. It was a great chance for many in the industry and those who love denim who have seen Ian's work online or in print for years, to see a real thing. The most common comment was how different it looked to how they had perceived.

In deed, Denimology wrote 'in “real” life this British artist is just amazing' and this is from someone who has written a few articles already on Ian without seeing it in person. Sportswear International who have also covered Ian's work a lot over the years said the event was 'showing the incredible life-like “paintings” he creates entirely from denim scraps'. Journalist Christopher Blomquist had seen a piece by Ian, also in New York three years previous with the Debbie Harry commission.

ian Berry New Yok Denim Days

Ian enjoyed the fair a lot and the interaction both with other exhibitors, the denim industry and also the public. It was great to show a 'art gallery' outside of an art gallery. Ian has been asked to write some reviews on some denim blogs so for now, we'll leave it there until those are published.

We look forward to the next denim days!

Denim Days Ian Berry 2017
NYDD

Ian Berry, Textile Artist. by Ian Berry

TextileArt_ianBerry.jpg

Now, we are not one to believe in labels, and many textile artists should really just call them artists on many occasions. But after over a decade of working with denim, the Textile art world over the last few years are starting to take note of Ian's work using denim. It's a textile after all.

He may not stitch, sew and they are no quilts. However many of the skills are the same and with viewing them, many in textile art have been amazed by his skills in manipulating the layers of fabric to become almost photo-realistic pieces.

Over the last number of years Ian has been invited to show in many contexts in the fiber and textile art genres and after initially declining to focus on his gallery shows, he also found himself saying

'I want more people to see the real work'

So, the seeds were sewn and with some persuasion, over the years, he agreed to a number of shows. Many which attract tens of thousands of people. And not one to ever do anything by halves, he put on a show, one with installations and some of his best work (often loaned back by clients)

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First up was Quilt en Sud in Biarritz in the south of France with the one of the organisers, Christine Lacroix being the driving influence to his appearance. We cannot thank her enough for her organising (we tested her a little) as well as the rest of the team who were so warm, kind and friendly. For Ian it was great to meet so many people who work with Textiles to see his work, and to get so many amazing comments. It was also good to meet and make friends with other artists, like Sheila Frampton Cooper, Françoise Tellier-Loumagne, Francine Flattard and Claudia Pfeil

Ian received great reviews from both the public and the press from his appearance in the South of France. Here Les Novelles (left) by French Patchwork featured a nice double page spread and QuiltMania stated how Ian has been setting the art world alight as well as comparing his work to Hopper.

Ian received great reviews from both the public and the press from his appearance in the South of France. Here Les Novelles (left) by French Patchwork featured a nice double page spread and QuiltMania stated how Ian has been setting the art world alight as well as comparing his work to Hopper.

It was also a great way to travel with the work with Biarritz and the surrounding area a beautiful place to visit. The event was packed with many talented and committed people and filled with volunteers that did the event proud.

In the September Ian was an invited featured artist at Le Carrefour Européen du Patchwork in Alsace, France. For its 24th event Ian impressed the Twenty Thousand plus crowd with his work all made in denim. It was a great event and one where the booth was consistently full of people, taking pictures and trying to get autographs and selfies with Ian.

The booth was consistently busy. On the right, people watching the films by Ian Berry.

The booth was consistently busy. On the right, people watching the films by Ian Berry.

Showing in one part the My Beautiful Launderette installation where people could interact and walk into it. The other part hosted part of Behind Closed Doors the emotionally charged body of work first shown in London at the end of 2016. Most viewers were more interested in the construction of the works and with so many people at the stand the emotional aspect was sometimes lost. That said, the poem on the wall, by Ian's sister, Fiona, drew a large response and many tears.

The event spanned four days and the first three Ian's area had consistently at least three or four dozen people in, sometimes up to a hundred. On the last day, it was a bit quieter with only a dozen people in at one time and it was intriguing how many more comments were given about the content of the work, not just the style and technique. Many commented how they saw themselves in the work.

Ian was housed in an area with fellow artists Mirjam Pet-Jacobs - the award winning Dutch artist who like Ian is interested in how people communicate and interact. This museum standard show was a highlight for Ian to see. Alongside Mirjam's show was the work curated by Nancy Crow with by the Dairy Barn from Ohio. This internationally acclaimed artist is noted to be one of the leading figures of the quilt art movement of the 70's and 80's. SAQA was next to Ian and they had developed this exhibition in collaboration with the Stratford Perth Museum, Stratford, Ontario, Canada and featured many Canadian artists. A handful of which captured Ian's eye. The team there were great to be next to. We wish Lisa Walton all the success in her role as the new president and to carry on this organisations great work.

And last but certainly not least, was Ian's old friend Luke Haynes who have known one another for several years. Luke is a superstar in the quilting world and had reached out to Ian as far back as 2011 and they have been friends since. It was great to see so many of his works all in one place. He had collaborated with some other artists on these pieces. With the impact Luke and Ian had on the event it was hard for people to be not drawn in to their gender.

many school children came around and seemed to be impressed with Ian's work.

many school children came around and seemed to be impressed with Ian's work.

It was also great for Ian to meet some people who had followed his work for several years. This included people like journalists Alie Dijk, Astrid Franchet and Katell Renon who have written about Ian several times before. The interesting thing however is how they all saw the work differently to how they had done before. This is great to get so many people to see the work in real life.

Ian didn't get chance to really get out of the booth to see anything else, but did manage to see Andrée Leblanc's work who he was deeply impressed with and Paula Nadelstern's quilts inspired by the bilateral symmetry of kaleidoscopic images. Léa Stansal quirky work brought many smiles while he was sad not to get to see Willy Doreleijers's show, The Tentmakers of Cairo and his friends Val Holmes among others..

For Ian, not used to showing in this context it was strange for his gender to be brought up. It's only since showing with other textile artists has it. Now in hindsight, in this world we now see it is easier for males to stand out, but really we think that the work should stand for itself, regardless of gender or any other factor.

The only positive to this he takes from this, is that he hopes young children, and boys can see what can be achieved.

The Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace wrote very highly about Ian's work. Desctibing his work and the attention he got - as well as being a male in this woman dominated world. For those who know French, this was a very nice phrase to be given..  'Chaque édition a son chouchou... Cette année, c’est Ian Berry qui remporte la palme.'

The Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace wrote very highly about Ian's work. Desctibing his work and the attention he got - as well as being a male in this woman dominated world. For those who know French, this was a very nice phrase to be given..

'Chaque édition a son chouchou... Cette année, c’est Ian Berry qui remporte la palme.'

Quilt en Sud stood out by its friendly army of volunteers while at Carrefour it really felt like an event the whole region got behind with the event taking over many venues over many of the towns and one that the media got behind.

After two successful trips to France, it sets up Ian nicely to show again in the Textile world again during Quilt Week in Paducah, Kentucky next April as the guest artist. One of the highlight events of the year in the industry. You can read about Ian in the latest edition of American Quilter.

Dates

April 18 – 21, 2018 • Wed.–Fri., 9am–6pm, Sat., 9am–4pm
Schroeder Expo Center • 415 Park Avenue, Paducah, KY 42001

But before then two stops in the USA, with New York Denim Days coming up this weekend and Miami Basel Week in December. Watch out for more information.

And will you see Ian quilt or sew in future? Maybe so.

Ian Berry in GQ in Spain and Italy September issue by Ian Berry

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GQ have been good to Ian over the years, first featuring him online as far back as 2013 in South Africa, then Brazil in 2014. Last year he was printed in GQ GB and here in both Italia and España. 

In the Italian issue it was reported by Paola Montanaro (translated from Italian)

The art of Ian Berry transforming jeans into masterpieces

His creations have a palette that exploits all the nuances of denim, his canvases tell stories of everyday life, or travels started a while ago. Like that of Pepe Jeans London, which has supported the art of the young English artist immediately.

Use denim as it is painting, to transform it into matter through which tell stories of everyday life. Part of this is the work of the young English artist Ian Berry, who has entered the world chart of 30 top artists under thirty years. His meticulous work consists in transforming denim artwork by exploiting all the many shades of jeans cloth to create his own palette of colors, and to transform ordinary scenes in masterpieces. As he tells himself: "The starting point is to find an interesting scene on which to build and tell a story. It could be someone sitting in a laundry room, a single girl in a bar ... any reality or situation, even the most banal, which will then turn into something very special. "

It's normal that his creativity and originality did not go unnoticed in the eyes of a brand that shares his values nd has his own denim in the heart: Pepe Jeans London. Between the artist and the brand was born a very high level synergy that led the London brand to donate their denim to use for his works of art. In addition to supporting Berry's work, the brand has also decided to host Berry's canvases in its stores around the world. In particular at the opening of the Regent Street shop, the artist created an ad hoc opera: a journey into the history of Pepe Jeans from origins at Portobello Road, where the brand was born in 1973.

And some quotes from España

Throughout the history of art, many of its protagonists have been meant to take their obsessions to the last consequences .... In the 21st century, we continue to admire artists who turn their conceptual and material concerns into the vertebral axes of their Works, our latest discovery Ian Berry.

ending with - Ian Berry, a young talent who has made denim a powerful artifact to convey emotions.