On Tuesday I visited Manu Berry in his studio to make arrangements for our exhibition that is fast approaching in March. Manu is a print maker, and a very good one. I remember seeing him at work several years ago, doing a huge wood cut print. He used what we call Customwood or MDF board for his wood block, and carved it with little carving tools in much the same way as you might do a lino cut, but all on a much grander scale. Manu had no press to print his work in those days, and would ink up the finished block, then lay his paper on it, and carefully burnish the back of the paper with a spoon, or other smooth object, until the ink transferred from the wooden block to the paper. It was a long and laborious process, but he became very skilled at it, and in spite of having almost no equipment, he made beautiful artwork.
Manu uses a variety of techniques these days to make his prints, including screen printing, but his screen printing, just like his wood cutting of years ago, is done with improvised equipment. Manu is a gentle, hard working, and most approachable person, and I have always treasured and enjoyed his company.
Manu recently set up his studio in a building in George Street, Dunedin. The studio has been used by artists for years, and has great natural light, a high ceiling, and lots of space. The seven windows look out over George Street at tree-top height, and it looks a lovely place to work.
We have decided on dates for the exhibition, it will run from Friday 4th March to Wednesday 16th March, and for Manu the exhibition is something of a celebration of his new studio. Manu is thinking about bees and clouds at the moment, and showed me some of the work that he has been doing for the exhibition.
I enjoyed meeting Jo Langford at Manu's studio, she was borrowing a bit of studio space to work on some sculpture.