We visited the talented Lacy Barry, a Canadian paper artist/designer, at her studio in Kreuzberg. She moved to Berlin for many reasons, but most importantly, to befriend a restless spirit and "to finally get a cat."
What’s your heritage, where are you originally from?
I’m from the Canadian Rocky Mountains, but my last name is from southern Ireland, I grew up among old west towns and indigenous lore and understand my linage dates back to the first French settlers in Canada, adding over time a mixture of immigrants & refugees who came to Canada for a better life. ‘The story of humans is migration’, a wise Dolly Parton once said, but I also could say that could be the national unofficial theme of Canada. My maternal relatives are Swiss, and on moving to Berlin, I found, are also German. I don’t have much information about my mothers side, it more or less ends after the 2nd World War, but maybe that’s why I accidently landed here, to slowly let it uncover. In any case I don’t know why humans are so obsessed about being ‘purely’ from one place, we all contain the heritage of another near and far. If we understood that fully perhaps we could be able to live at peace with one other… besides it’s the pure breeds that usually suffer great physical and mental ailments due to a DNA pool being too small… along with migration, humans have evolved to contain the most suited attributes now, from our ancestors.
Where are you based now, what brought you there?
I came to Berlin for its large sunny windows and green leafy trees behind them, to swim in natural lakes during the summer, to cycle most places, to ice skate the landwehrkanal, to afford to live on my own, to explore abandoned buildings of the formally severed city, to commune with artists & people from so many places, to witness glimpses of Walter Benjamin’s childhood, to learn what ‘Die Himmel über Berlin’ feels like, to dance all night often, to experience something entirely different, to be apart of a community of accepted differences, to be a bit more free, to know a secret love built from ruins, to befriend a restless spirit, to finally get a cat.
What’s your earliest memory of making art?
I am not sure if it is my earliest, but one memory always comes up; I was a little kid, I woke up early before everyone else like I usually did ( a different time) and witnessed the big tree in my backyard release all its autumn leaves to the lawn below. I went out to gather all these leaves and arrange a big maze, like the ones I saw in my activity books. The maze started on one end of the yard, and ended at the big tree, that is, if you didn’t get too hopelessly trapped by the dead ends on the way. As each family member woke up, I lead them outside and guided them through the maze, often excitedly giving out pointers on how to finally reach the tree.
How did you know this was different to the other hobbies you had?
Since art covers all ranges and kinds of creativity, I never felt an artisanal hobby and a job were treated any different. I was always making things, and as I grew older and had to make a living, every aspect of my creative yearnings somehow became absorbed into my art practice. I always felt; if I must live in a capitalist system that requires me to have a ‘job’ then its got to be fun and impacting my environment positively.… I still feel that way. Coming from a place of somewhat privilege but definitely not funds… I held a job since I was old enough to. That said, I’m not a big fan of capitalism, at least the toxic, cannibalistic form it has taken these days. I don’t believe it is the ‘only’ way we all must live, but I think a lot of people are feeling this way, so it seems that is about to change.
Your biggest inspiration for your art at the moment?
Nature and architecture, and how they collaborate with each other, try to overthrow one another (nature usually wins) and scenarios where they could harmoniously work together… and story, specifically about Berlin and the past half decade I’ve spent here... exploring and accidently but whimsically experiencing. I have a podcast about this called Secret Place Berlin. Every episode is illustrated and accompanied with a collaborators music, usually my friends.
How would you describe your personal style, does this style influence your art work?
I would describe my personal style like I describe my artwork; a birthday party on steroids, set in a secret over grown garden… it has its dark moments. I mainly seek to expose a beauty in common wonder to preternatural discovery from this standpoint.
When did you decide to pursue paper art/design, how did your family members and friends respond to this decision?
Since I was very little, it was the way I could comprehend the world around me, and make understanding of it, while doing something satisfying and fun. I never distinctively decided I was going to be an artist, it was just who I was and always had been, as much as it is being human.
Tried and true methods against creative block?
Napping, going for a walk, going down aimless online rabbit holes of interesting images and stories, not forcing anything, but relaxing my brain in books and literature. Going on a bike ride, doing something fun, going for swim, being in nature and feeling the vibrating pulse of living on a nurturing planet, communing with others.
Best album to listen to whilst creating?
It always changes, but I love The Avalanches new album, ‘We will always love you’, hands down, always The Avalanches.
What's your most recent acheivement?
Finding my inner voice again, ( she is very kind and all knowing) finding a love of making artwork again ( there was a time paid projects became too intrusive in this sacred space) and embarking on that space often, …silencing the inner drill sergeant that rules with guilt and shame, rather rediscovering my own rhythm that embraces my night activity which evolves with the seasons.
Moon cycles, love, mother nature, being calmly present, sleep, self love and acceptance, empathy, soul food, beautiful cakes, mindfulness, interesting architecture, secret history, hugs, funny laughing, kindness, furry animals, gentle humans.
Time, hatred, capitalism, misogyny, racism, rushing, mindless consumption, ‘the rat race’, fascism, ‘being born a sinner’, fear, one-way-of-doing-something, bureaucracy, capitol greed, the corporation, passive aggressive emails.