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Art

A Flower Patch of Recycled Denim Grows from the Ceiling in Ian Berry's 'Secret Garden'

July 14, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Secret Garden” (2021), at Museum Rijswijk. All images © Ian Berry, shared with permission

Whimsical tendrils of vines, foliage, wisteria, and chrysanthemums sprout from artist Ian Berry’s wild, overgrown garden plots. Densely assembled and often suspended from the ceiling, his recurring “Secret Garden” is comprised of blooms and leafy plants created entirely from recycled denim, producing immersive spaces teeming with indigo botanicals in various washes and fades.

Since its debut at the New York Children’s Museum of the Arts, Berry’s site-specific installation has undergone a few iterations. “The first one was made with children in mind… hence the more magical secret garden angle,” he says, “just wanting to (ensure they think about) where the material comes from, see what they can make, and seek out outdoor places within a city.” It’s since traveled to London, Barcelona, The Netherlands, France, Kentucky, and the San Francisco Flower Mart, where it’s permanently installed as a trellis lining the space’s windows.

 

“Secret Garden,” New York Children’s Museum of the Arts. Photo by Lucinda Grange

The initial installation sourced damaged bolts from Cone Denim, specifically its now-shuttered White Oak Mill in North Carolina, which is known for its dedication to transparent cotton sourcing and commitment to using less water. Although much of Berry’s works recycle discarded jeans, jackets, and materials that are unusable for garments and employ environmentally conscious companies like Tonello to wash and laser the vines, sustainability is an ancillary element of his practice.

Instead, the East London-based artist focuses on generating a broader conversation about the ways communities change over time and a hope that people will find magic where it’s not necessarily expected.  “The piece was born out of the idea that in New York, many children would grow up without a garden, and as much of my work is about the community in urban environments,” he shares. “I wanted afterwards for the parents and children to go and seek them out—and they did.”

“Secret Garden” is on view as part of Berry’s solo show Splendid Isolation, which is up through August 15 at Museum Rijswijk in the Hague, The Netherlands. In October, his work is headed to the Textil Museet in Sweden, where it’ll be until May 2022. Explore a larger collection of his textile-based floral pieces on his site and Instagram.

 

“Secret Garden,” New York Children’s Museum of the Arts. Photo by Will Ellis

“Secret Garden” (2021), at Museum Rijswijk. Photo by Marcus van Ee

“Secret Garden,” New York Children’s Museum of the Arts. Photo by Lucinda Grange

“Secret Garden,” New York Children’s Museum of the Arts. Photo by Will Ellis

“Secret Garden,” New York Children’s Museum of the Arts. Photo by Lucinda Grange

 

 



Art Craft

A Dreamy Fiber Installation by Vanessa Barragão Transforms a Medieval Bridge into a Patch of Oversized Orchids

July 6, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Vanessa Barragão, shared with permission

In the small town of Paderne, Portugal, a whimsical valance of crocheted leaves, dangling tendrils, and petals dyed with subtle gradients encircles the stone archways of a battered medieval bridge. Titled “Algarvensis,” the dreamy installation is by Portuguese artist Vanessa Barragão, who’s known for her large-scale textured tapestries that recreate landscapes and gardens with tufted fibers. The bowed entanglement recreates oversized orchids native to the region with wool from nearby sheep and recycled yarn, resin, and other materials in a celebration of the local environment where the artist spent much of her childhood.

“Algarvensis,” which the municipality of Albufeira commissioned to help elevate the Geoparque Algarvensis to the status of a Worldwide UNESCO Geoparque, will be up until September 12, and you can the process and installation behind the piece on Barragão’s Instagram.

 

 

 



Animation Art

Dense Fields of Flowers Spring from People and Everyday Objects in Animated Works by Grif

June 24, 2021

Grace Ebert

Fields of vibrant flowers spring from a Brooklyn brownstone, basketball court, and Vermeer’s “Girl with Pearl Earring” in Equinox Collection by Grif. The Manhattan-based artist is working on an ongoing series of animations that transform objects and spaces into wild gardens in full bloom. The looping clips are designed to “illustrate how nature’s energy will continue to evolve, reclaim, and transfer even without us,” Grif says. “The concept of transferring energy is one that is constantly in motion. Energy is constantly being transformed all around us. It’s the first rule of thermodynamics.”

Whether enveloping a Berlin doorstep or producing a trail of flowers in a skateboarder’s wake, each piece is a mini-narrative that’s rooted in a place, time, or experience the artist wanted to revisit. “I chose scenes from my memory and slightly changed the surroundings to embed a sense of nostalgia for the audience, a sort of golden light that elicits this feeling of optimism. We often look back quite fondly on memories, they’re rose-tinted or sugar-coated or whichever metaphor you like,” Grif says.

Some of the works shown here were featured last month for Callao City Arts in Madrid, and others will be on view as part of an exhibition led by Collab in Moscow. You can follow the ongoing collection on Behance and Instagram.

 

 

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Photogrammetry by Azad Balabanian

 

 

 

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Art

Enchanting Scenes Combine Multiple Precisely Carved Woodblocks into Full-Color Prints by Tugboat Printshop

June 1, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Blue Bridge” (2020), woodcut on ivory somerset paper, 18 x 22.5 inches. All images © Tugboat Printshop, shared with permission

Valerie Lueth, who’s behind the Pittsburgh-based Tugboat Printshop (previously), continues to cultivate dreamy scenarios painstakingly printed with intricately carved woodblocks. Her recent creations include a distant truss bridge peeking through vegetation, a whimsically intertwined pair of trees—now in full color, this piece began as a black-line woodcut commissioned for an edition of Jean-Claude Grumberg’s The Most Precious of Cargoes—and a web of vines dripping with rain and jewels evoking a dreamcatcher.

After sketching with pencil on plywood blocks, Lueth hand-carves the meticulous designs with knives and gouging tools and often cuts multiple panels with slight variances for each print. In addition to building depth of color, Lueth’s sequential process yields greater highlights, shadows, and overall detail to the completed work. The lush, leafy scene comprising “Blue Bridge,” for example, is the product of four blocks coated in black, blue, green, and purple oil-based inks, which are pressed in succession to create the richly layered landscape.

Prints are available on Esty or from Tugboat’s site, and you can see more of Lueth’s process and a larger collection of her works, including a glimpse at a new floral relief in black-and-white, on Instagram.

 

Detail of “Web” (2019), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 20 x 16 inches

“Web” (2019), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 20 x 16 inches

“Blue Bridge” (2020), woodcut on ivory somerset paper, 18 x 22.5 inches

Detail of “Web” woodcuts

“Together Trees” (2020), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 12.5 x 9 inches

Detail of “Together Trees” (2020), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 12.5 x 9 inches

Detail of “Web” (2019), woodcut on natural Kitakata paper, 20 x 16 inches

Detail of “Blue Bridge” woodcut, 18 x 22.5 inches

 

 



Photography

Natural Light Illuminates Flowers in Full Bloom in Otherworldly Photographs by Xuebing Du

May 17, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Xuebing Du, shared with permission

Xuebing Du finds the balance between light and shadow in her photographs that cast flowers and plants in a dreamy, refined manner. Currently based in Sunnyvale, California, Du scouts the botanical subject matter as the forms reach peak bloom, using only the natural glow from the sun to capture their vivid color. The resulting images are elegant and otherworldly and frame the soft, silky petals in a way that creates “a tone that is almost surreal and illuminated by a strong yet delicate touch of light,” she says in a statement.

Du’s photography focuses on the organic textures and supple forms of the natural world, and you can explore a larger collection of her works on Behance, Tumblr, and Instagram. Prints are available in her shop. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 

 



Craft Design

Painted Imprints of Delicate Botanical Assemblages Embellish Ceramic Dinnerware

April 27, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Hessa Al Ajmani, shared with permission

Hessa Al Ajmani (previously) carefully imprints single flowers, leaves, and fronds into her ceramic dinnerware. After hand-building a piece, the artist assembles bunches of small plants native to the United Arab Emirates and presses them into layered bouquets on mugs, plates, and serving dishes. Al Ajmani then paints the impressions to mimic the original florals that she sources from the nearby desert and occasionally from her mother’s garden, a practice dictated by the climate and time of year. “My work naturally takes a whole season to prepare and/or relies on the occasional winter rainfall,” she says. “I allow it to grow organically and see it as a collaboration with nature. After all, clay itself is a material of the earth.”

In addition to creating an array of functional pieces, Al Ajmani teaches virtual and in-person workshops at Clay Corner Studio, which she founded in Ajman in 2019. Follow her on Instagram to keep an eye on new releases in her shop.

 

 

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