Huddersfield born artist Ian Berry has just opened a museum show in the New York ... and reveals how he talks up his home town everywhere he goes.
The artist has installed his trademark denim work at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Manhattan – and the exhibition is called the Secret Garden.
And it comes just days after he spent two days in Florida installing more of his artwork – a launderette made from denim.
Ian has been back in Huddersfield a few times this year to see Huddersfield play in the Premier League.
He said: “I love my town and always tell people in the denim industry that without our area denim would never have been what it is. Without the industrial revolution and he technology that was perfected in our region, Levi Strauss and the rest would not have been able to make the denim and the resulting boom in California.”
In New York guests were wowed by the details and able to walk through the garden path and see all the plants made of denim and a trellis hanging down overhead. In a city with famous parks, not many children have their own gardens.
Ian, who went to Newsome High School and Greenhead College, believes in giving back and inspiring kids to get involved with the arts so the museum was a perfect fit.
He said: “I was the one at school who was into art. I had great art teachers at Newsome in Mr Richardson and Mr Hampson and then at Greenhead with Annie and John. But I listened to those who said there’s no career in art and I first went another route, but I got back into it another way and found my way through the back door.
“I think kids need to be able to see people doing art and be inspired by it. I’m still relatively young and have done some projects with schools and love to get emails from parents or students saying they have been making work inspired by mine, including the one that complained her kid saw it and cut up her curtains!”
Ian created the installation from his London studio, but was also flying to Italy back and forth to work with Italian company Tonello. For 35 years they have been the reference point for the most important laundry and dyeing companies all over the world and for fashion brands.
A key innovator in the denim industry, they helped Ian with much of the technology needed when for the first time he lasered a lot of the denim as well as using special washing techniques to play with the shades of denim.
Ian added: “I’ve always prided my work on it all being handmade, just scissors and glue, and my hands. But this was a big ask and I had met Tonello a few times. I thought it was a perfect time to use this technology, especially because of how it has advanced. It’s not seeing it as just technology but another tool in my art, combining it with washing techniques I believe is an art form in itself. It’s the tools the denim industry now use so it’s fitting to bring it into my art. Besides, they strive for sustainable techniques that save on water and don’t produce waste which I think has got to be the way forward for the industry and how fitting that it was used to make something as environmental as a garden.”
Another company that really helped though was Cone Denim which supplied Levis with the denim to produce the 501 jeans.
They gave Ian two rolls of denim to complete the project. And not just any denim. It was one of the last rolls from the historic North Carolina mill called White Oak. Sadly, this month sees its last day as Cone’s American base will close. They continue in Mexico and China keeping the famous name alive but the closure was news that shook the denim industry giving it was the last surviving mill in the whole of the US.
Ian who was named a top artist under 30 a few years ago is going from strength to strength and 2018 is already looking an exciting year.