Ian Berry’s CCTV Control Room
Over the last several years I have got to know the work of Ian Berry and written about him several times. It would be easy to suggest ‘I Love Jeans’ so I should love art with denim, but this is more than just art out of jeans. It’s not even really about it being made out of denim, it is just his ‘medium’ the way he sees things. The denim is a hook, yes, but this is no gimmick. To see the work in real life, you notice a level of detail and craftsmanship that would even be hard to create with paint – and I must point out that, there is no paint, no bleach and no manipulation – all he uses is what we love the most: Jeans.
His pallet is actually thousands of pairs of jeans, in his studio all laid out by shade. But it’s not that simple. If you look at all his work each little piece is actually a piece of denim, no matter how small, which has a gradient, fade, cat’s whisker within in, or naturally faded denim or a piece that has been washed with interesting laundry techniques. And because of that, it is great he has linked up with Pepe Jeans as they have over the years contributed to his pallet.
‘Pepe Jeans have sent me many shades, and it has really improved my work. I have many pairs of the same shade, so it is good for the consistency throughout the piece but also you get used to the jeans. I know what and where to look for things to cut out and as I have several pairs, I have to ration less than I have done before. Pepe Jeans always have good laundry fades in them and this is basically where I find my magic. Without this, my work is nothing.’
Ian Berry -artist
And magic it is, hard to believe these are made of denim. You do have to see them in real life though to see the layers and texture. But lucky for us Londoners (and the many people who visit), we now can, every day of the year. Ian has just worked with Pepe Jeans London (seems a good fit!) to create a new piece for their flagship store in Regents Street. I have seen different images of work he has made using CCTV images over London over the last few months on his social channels, but I had no Idea of what was to come.The final piece is an impressive, large installation of a CCTV Control Room. It’s actually a genuine piece of contemporary art on view for the general public on Regents Street. It’s just a shame it is not in the window as sure it would get even more people in.
But if you do go in, you will see this piece in all its glory, many different CCTV screens made in the most time excruciating process. Not only that, he has created all the scenes himself, climbing on ladders, he even told me he took some with a selfie stick (we forgive you!) to get that high angle looking over the city. And not just any old London, it is West London where Pepe was founded on Portobello Road Market in 1973 and then the journey from there to Piccadilly and up Regent Street.
You have to spend a long time to look to notice everything as it is so detailed. There is also a TV screen in the middle that is incorporated in so well as it is not detracting from the piece of art, with the theme of the CCTV screen carrying on but still allows Pepe to add in some other messages and topical promotions. As a flagship you may expect a bit more, the store is not all that large but this piece and the fun custom studio (I’d like to see what Ian can do with that) makes it worth a visit to a part of Regent Street I rarely venture to. It would be even more so if I could see more of the art in there – I’d love to see what he could do with a window display.
I did leave looking up, thinking am I being filmed? As London is the most watched city in the world and this is in the heart of it all, the chances are I was. It was also refreshing to speak to someone who was an ambassador of a brand that knew so much about it and seemed genuinely passionate about them. Well Done Pepe!