“I'M NOT A SURFER OR A SKATER, JUST A PICTURE MAKING, ROLLER SKATE ENTHUSIAST FROM THE US DEEP SOUTH BUT I SUPPOSE WHAT SERVED AS THE CATALYST FOR THIS EMAIL WAS MY DEEP APPRECIATION FOR THE FIRST PAGE AND LAST PAGE OF THE MAGAZINE. I COULD HEAR THE SINCERITY IN YOUR VOICE AND I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW THAT I READ IT AND WHETHER OR NOT THAT COUNTS FOR ANYTHING I DON'T KNOW BUT I THOUGHT I'D TELL YOU ANYWAYS... BEST OF LUCK IN THE FUTURE.”
Turns out that picture making, roller skate enthusiast was Frances Berry. We were stunned. Not only by the kind words sent our way, but the beauty that graced our eyes whilst uncovering Frances’ work moments later. Picture maker may seem and odd title but it’s perfectly appropriate. Frances work blends multiple media, in which painting, drawing, photography and digital media co-exist, producing a wild, kaleidoscopic collage of colour, history and deep rooted nostalgia. In fact, when Frances discovered our magazine, she was in La Rochelle, France, exhibiting ‘Memory Machine’, a visual installation consisting of film projections on transparent material, exploring how memory and photography are often synonymous.
“Like most things I’ve ever made, it didn’t start with an idea, but a mistake. This series is no different. It started out with me making a mistake on the computer and instead of undoing it, I just kept going,” says artist Frances Berry. Countless mistakes later and Berry was exhibiting her work in the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art.
Berry’s studio in Memphis is as vibrant as her works. It features a hodgepodge of mismatched discarded furniture, amini trampoline hidden away under the stairs, plus an eclectic array of typewriters, projectors and boxes of slides piled high on every spare surface. Each of her “treasures” is arranged into its own mini still-life-an organised chaos, like Berry’s works. “I rearrange every couple of months as I have found that changing my surroundings often helps me create,” says Berry. “I like to think of my studio as a laboratory and all of the things in it as specimens to be studied.”
Blurred lines: smartphone distortions of the past – in pictures
Memphis resident Frances Berry describes herself as a picture-maker: she creates images with “whatever happens to be within reach”. In her series Lines We Live By, she manipulates old family photos and vintage postcards. Although she remains coy about her methods, the series was created primarily using her phone, which she says “seems appropriate for this day and age, considering we are all glued to them. I love being able to use this contemporary tool to manipulate historical imagery.” Berry stretches out the background around the central figure, which stands alone in the middle of the image. She adds: “Our minds distort our memories and the visual distortion here is a representation of that.”