Clockwise from top: 1. SUGAR ARCHITECTURE (2009-2011) Brendan Jamison, carved sugar cubes, under construction (studio image)
2. Upper detail view of HELEN'S TOWER (2009) Brendan Jamison, carved sugar cubes,
87 x 39 x 37 cms
3. HELEN'S TOWER (2009) Brendan Jamison, carved sugar cubes,
87 x 39 x 37 cms
SELECTED: OPEN FREQUENCY - New Contemporary Art: Brendan Jamison
by Sanna Moore
Brendan Jamison’s sculptures are a set of contradictions, masculine/feminine, fragile/solid, organic/architectural. He takes inspiration from the New British Sculptors of the early 1980s’ like Cragg and Kapoor.
He works in a variety of organic materials such as wood, wool, wax and sugar. Each material represents a different strand to his work which he develops concurrently, changing his focus from one material to another. Each time he revisits a material his knowledge and understanding of its properties deepens taking his practice to another level.
His use of the sugar cube is perhaps the material which has drawn the most attention to his work. Using the sugar cube as a building block he created a series of biomorphic sculptures for his MA show, In-Between, 2004. This series of seven narrow towers (the tallest is almost three metres high) stood precariously as if they could topple at any given moment. Jamison’s practice is based in architecture; In-Between was inspired by the architecture of Islamic Minarettes, Hindu Temples and buildings within the science-fiction genre.
The laborious and time-consuming process of creating the sugar cube pieces takes months of repetitive labour. Each cube is attached to the next with glue, an intricate and dexterous process of building. As a child, Jamison was obsessed by constructing forms with Lego. The sugar cube gives him a similar material to work with but the control of the construction is now dependent on his own system of securing and stabilising the structure. Although sugar cubes are the product of a manufacturing process, each one is slightly different. The addition of the glue to secure each one to the next causes additional imperfections to each cube when the glue dries, making each sculpture individual.
The organic forms of the sugar cube towers embody Jamison’s interest in the androgynous, his work often blurring the boundaries between genre and sexuality. Like Cragg, his work elicits a response to organic and artificial environments suggesting connections between these opposing worlds. Jamison’s use of the sugar cube immediately recalls Cragg’s dice sculptures where the surface of the structure is covered with countless die, each one glued in place. Jamison replicates this process but the sugar cube forms the sculpture as well as providing the decorative aspect.
Recent commissions have seen Jamison develop the sugar cube sculptures into stronger architectural forms. For example Sugar Walk, 2008 (a commission to make an architectural model for a city centre apartment block planned for 2011) ; Reichstag Sugar-Cube Dome, 2009, a solo exhibition at the John Erickson Museum of Art, Berlin, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the world renowned Norman Foster designed dome (Jamison was invited to build a sugar cube version of this state-of-the-art glass and metal edifice). His latest work Helen’s Tower, 2009, is a replica of a Scottish-Baronial styled tower built in 1850 in Bangor, Northern Ireland. This sculpture alludes to a magical world of fairy tales, fantasy and childhood, other themes which run through Jamison’s practice. The structure of these latest works appears solid and indestructible; they do not hover precariously like earlier pieces. The attention to detail and the craftsmanship of the roof, turrets and staircase of Helen’s Tower is phenomenal, showing the artist’s growing confidence with his materials.
Exhibitions Curator, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, England
1. ILLUMINATED Reichstag Würfelzucker Kuppel (2009) Brendan Jamison, carved sugar cubes, Platz Der Republik, THE REICHSTAG, BERLIN, GERMANY.
2. Reichstag Würfelzucker Kuppel [model B2-RZK] (2009) Brendan Jamison, carved sugar cubes, installation at JEMA
Artist beside OPENING HEAD with protective ring (2007) Brendan Jamison, sugar
cubes and glue, 270 x 180 x 180 cms. Installation at Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast
MOORE, SANNA. "Selected: Open Frequency - New Contemporary Art: Brendan Jamison", AXIS online, Leeds UK, 27 January 2010