Leeds & West Yorkshire

Ian Berry: Huddersfield artist creates works in denim

Ian Berry portrait Image copyright Ian Berry
Image caption Ian Berry uses different washes of denim to create his artworks, which many say look like paintings from afar

When Ian Berry cleared out the wardrobe at his mother's house he found a pile of old jeans that needed to be sorted.

Most people would take them to their nearest charity shop, but the 34-year-old from Huddersfield, formerly known as Denimu, shaped them into portraits.

His artworks may look like paintings from a distance, but they are made completely from denim.

Using different textures and washes, he creates light and shade from the hardwearing fabric.

Berry, who uses scissors and glue to piece together his artwork, said: "I take a photograph then try to replicate it in fabric.

"I can cut something out and it looks like a shiny window, like a reflection or something. If, say, around the pocket of the jeans there is a nice curve, that's where I'll cut."

"To me it is part of the challenge to make a matt surface look shiny."

Image copyright Ian Berry
Image caption Berry has talked about how his work reflects the "fading fabric of the urban environment" and our changing communities
Image copyright Ian Berry
Image caption He works by taking photographs and replicating them in shades of denim
Image copyright Brad Rankin
Image caption Ian Berry's latest installation is in Kentucky, but he would love to exhibit in his home town

Berry started off using jeans donated by family and friends but now has about 2,000 pairs to work with - many donated by denim brands.

His work looks at how people relate to one another, how our communities are changing, and how - and he pardons his own pun - there is a "fading fabric of the urban environment".

"Where I live now in London I know all the neighbours, but most people in London don't talk to each other.

"Pubs are closing down, they are the places where interaction used to happen.

"In the past we used to compare ourselves to people in the community; now we compare ourselves to people online, to celebrities."

Image copyright Emil Langvad
Image caption He has worked on commissions and created portraits of Debbie Harry and Ayrton Senna
Image copyright Enclave Media
Image caption In April his installation Art in Denim was on display in Paducah, Kentucky

Berry, who now has fans all over the world, said to get the most impact his work is best seen in real life.

"Even from about a metre away people think they look like paintings.

It's because of this that Berry wants to show his work in the north, bringing a touch of what he has shown in sell-out shows in London and Sweden and museums, galleries and art fairs in the United States.

"I'd love to exhibit in Huddersfield but I want it to be the right project. I want to reach people who wouldn't normally go to an art gallery, to make an impact."

Image copyright Lucinda Grange
Image caption The artist said his work is still best seen in real life, and photographs do not bring it to life in the same way
Image copyright Ian Berry
Image caption He also looks at the theme of home, and how people may seem to have everything but inside are unhappy
Image copyright Brad Rankin
Image caption Berry - a Huddersfield Town fan - cites the North's role in the industrial revolution with making denim what it is today
Image copyright Ian Berry
Image caption He immortalised Ayrton Senna in a picture using denim jeans donated by the racing driver's family

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