Friday, February 11, 2011

A Visit to Manu Berry's studio.

Manu making tea in his studio.

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.

Foxgloves: this print by Manu Berry must be about 7.5 feet high (228.6 cm).

Foxgloves by Manu Berry, Detail.

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.

The studio in George Street, Dunedin.

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.

Manu hanging up some new prints. The nearest one is inspired by bees and honeycomb.

Some of the images look to be 7 or 8 feet high, and are printed onto canvas. There are also smaller and exquisite works on paper.

Gathering mushrooms by Manu Berry

Gathering Mushrooms by Manu Berry: detail.

I enjoyed meeting Jo Langford at Manu's studio, she was borrowing a bit of studio space to work on some sculpture.

Jo demonstrating an unusual placement of a dust mask!

Jo has been in Dunedin on an artist's Residency. She has a fine sense of humour, and was making strangely beautiful, fragile looking constructions with kebab sticks and lengths of metal rod. I think I will be a sculptor in my next incarnation...., it looked fun.

4 comments:

Linda Starr said...

Beautiful prints, how wonderful to have art for large walls, so much more engrossing.

Angie said...

I love all of the prints you have shown ...what a talented artist ... wish I could experiece them in real.

Bet you are working in over drive to get everything ready for the exibition ... have a wonderful time creating for it .

Pat - Arkansas said...

Your friend Manu has produced some very lovely art! I can only imagine the laborious process he went through in early days. I'm glad he persevered.

Thanks for the photos; the foxglove detail is beautiful.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
I loved the high ceilings that Manu's studio has, it does make large work much more appropriate and possible.

Hi Angie,
The good thing about Manu is that he is a really nice person as well as being a hugely talented artist. It is good being able to work with him on this.

Hi Pat,
I guess an image of foxgloves would be especially welcome for you at the moment. You must be finding things difficult with all the snow, and it will be nice for you to be reminded of flowers! Spring will soon be coming your way!