On Wednesday 23rd of May Ian will be back on the Jo Good show on BBC Radio London. Jo covered Ian's exhibition in 2016 and her enthusiasm was infectious, so much so when asked many people who came to the show said they's come off the back of the interview - an amazing success from a non visual radio.
Ian Berry’s new book, Denim on Denim is now out and available to order online.
· 144 page paperback book
· Over 110 images in full colour (well, full of blue)
· Looks over some of his 12 years of making his artwork using only denim
· Many images show detail shots of his work that have to be seen to be believed.
· Forward by Brenda Emmanus – BBC Arts and Culture Correspondent
· Hardback is £45 and paperback £29
· Postage is £4 to the UK with next day delivery
· Postage is £7 within Europe, £9 to the rest of the world
Find out more and purchase here
arts&activites magazine has published a piece on Ian Berry further highlighting Ian's education credentials. Coming out, coincidentally around the same time as the Children's Museum of the Arts opened its doors to the Secret Garden Installation.
It also shows how a school did a project on him, and here one of the kids works makes the cover.
you can find Arts & Activities here online.
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is this great photo by Lucinda Grange of the all Denim installation that showed at the Juxtapoz Clubhouse during Art Basel. More images and pics of the other fairs coming soon.. But for now we're having too much fun.