Lonely Planet Writer

Visit a secret garden made entirely out of denim in New York City

An exhibition has opened in New York that takes visitors through a secret indigo garden made entirely of denim and over a bridge layered with fabric flowers, plants, stepping stones and toys.

Artist Ian Berry with The Secret Garden at The CMA in New York.
Artist Ian Berry with The Secret Garden at The CMA in New York. Image by Children’s Museum of the Arts and Will Ellis

Created for the Bridge Project by British artist Ian Berry, The Secret Garden installation is on show at The Children’s Museum of Arts in Chelsea, Manhattan until 29 April. The material used throughout the project is from the final role of denim ever made by the last major manufacturer in the United States, the Cone Mills’ White Oak plant, which closed at the end 2017. Having worked with denim in a range of different ways over the past 10 years, Ian Berry enlisted the help of a dedicated team who helped create the immersive, site-specific piece at the gallery.

The material used is from the final role of denim ever made by the last major manufacturer in the United States
The material used is from the final role of denim ever made by the last major manufacturer in the United States. Image by Lucinda Grange

Using strips of denim in different shades and layers, the distinctive grain of the fabric adds texture and depth to the experience. Rather than painting or bleaching the material, the artist chose to reshape the pieces with scissors to compile different pieces that were stuck together with glue to form new objects. Designed to inspire a sense of wonder in younger visitors, the garden includes various flowers and plants such as roses and cacti, while denim tools can be seen as well as a hare.

A hare made out of denim at The Secret Garden.
A hare made out of denim at The Secret Garden. Image by Children’s Museum of the Arts and Will Ellis

“I thought that while in many other ways, New York would be one of the most inspiring cities for a child to live in, many kids wouldn’t have gardens. Yes, there are places to go and famous parks with amazing open space and the High Line too, but perhaps it may inspire parents to find a little secret garden near to them,” artist Ian Berry said about the project.

The artist created the sculptures by cutting and glueing pieces of fabric by hand.
The artist created the sculptures by cutting and glueing pieces of fabric by hand. Image by Children’s Museum of the Arts and Will Ellis

The Secret Garden accompanies CMA’s exhibition Ellen Harvey: Ornaments and Other Refrigerator Magnets, an exhibition of new and recent works by Ellen Harvey that explore the use of ornamentation in scenes of both urban life and in nature.

More information on visiting The Children’s Museum of Arts is available at the official website.