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Collage gets sticky: GLUE at the Down Arts Centre in Downpatrick


By Jenni Davidson | 10 April 2013

Brendan Jamison after a collaboration with Peter Richards, The Spy Globes of Teufelsberg [Field Station Berlin] (2012). Collage © Brendan Jamison

Talk of cutting and pasting immediately brings to mind editing a document in Microsoft Word or, thinking more literally, primary school assignments deploying a tube of Pritt Stick and a pile of old magazines rather than hard-hitting contemporary art.

A group of artists in Northern Ireland, though, are challenging this preconception.

GLUE is an international exhibition at the Down Arts Centre exploring contemporary trends in the art of collage. It’s as far from children’s pictures and scrap books as you can get.

Bethany Taylor, Everything Must Go #1

(Total Liquidation) (2013).

Mixed media digital collage.© Bethany Taylor

With themes ranging from political activism, gender issues and the architecture of espionage to failed futurist ideologies and the history of light in art and theatre, this is assemblage for adults.

Collage is usually either decorative or preparatory, often employed by artists as a means of working up concepts and ideas for other works - mood boards of pictures and shapes that explore possible themes, colours and composition.

These experimantal works never make it into the public eye, as they are replaced by the finished painting, drawing, sculpture or installation.

GLUE recognises this important function of collage, with around half the works being preparations created as plans for other pieces.

The other half are fully-realised artworks in their own right, demonstrating the range of media used in contemporary collage, including traditional paper, photography and digital manipulation.

There are 19 artists represented in GLUE, including Shiro Masuyama, Tea Mäkipää, Sean Miller, Patrick Colhoun, Ciaran Magill and Brendan Jamison.

Nine of the artists come from Northern Ireland and the other ten from Japan, Finland, America and the Republic of Ireland, making this a truly global examination of collage today.

Down Arts Centre, Irish Street, Downpatrick. Open 10am-4.30pm (closed Sunday). Admission free.

Trevor Wray, In a Field (2012). Photographic collage © Trevor Wray


Ciaran Magill, Fragile [iii] (2013). Mixed-media collage © Ciaran Magill


DAVIDSON, JENNI. "Collage gets sticky: GLUE at the Down Arts Centre in Downpatrick" Culture24, Brighton, England, 10 April 2013




Warning! This is Contemporary Art: a new exhibition shakes up the Belfast art scene


By Jenni Davidson | 30 May 2012

Warning Art's Brian Nixon (left) with exhibition curator Brendan Jamison and Jamison's sculpture, Containers. © Brendan Jamison

PREVIEW: WARNING! This is Contemporary Art, The Warning Art Gallery, Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, until June 15 2012

An x-rated art exhibition is challenging the boundaries of the Northern Irish contemporary art scene.

WARNING! This is Contemporary Art, which takes place in the pop up Warning Art Gallery at the Crescent Arts Centre, contains a series of sexually explicit and psychologically dark works focusing on alternative representations of the human body and its functions.

The group exhibition features work by 26 artists from Europe and America, including Tracey Emin, Julian Opie, André Stitt, Brendan Jamison and Ciaran Magill. It is curated by sculptor Brendan Jamison and features one of his works, Containers – two plastic containers covered in giant coloured map pins, which appear to be engaged in a sex act.

One highlight of the exhibition is André Stitt’s paintings. Stitt, who also delivered the exhibition’s opening talk, created the Prog Rock series of abstract paintings while listening to loud music with obscene lyrics, while his giant Black Mountain High is a response to the city of Belfast.

The Sperm Harvesters by Lydia Holmes is a pencil drawing of four erect penises, rising like a ridge of inaccessible pinnacles with women throwing ropes over them and ascending like mountaineers. It references reports of female gangs in Zimbabwe subjected men to sexual abuse in order obtain sperm, desired for it’s believed beauty and ritual benefits.

Tracy Emin’s See How They Grow continues the penis theme with a picture of two penises being showered from a watering can, while Galen Olmsted’s Angel Shit subverts porcelain’s pure and white associations and re-inteprets it as the dross of the earth’s surface.

Peter Richards’ The Curator, the Dealer, his Friend and his Artist is a tongue in cheek recreation of the roasted lover scene in Peter Greenaway’s film The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover,

It uses pinhole technology to create a sepia-tinted scene and features gallery director Brian Nixon, exhibition curator Brendan Jamison, and artists Miguel Martin, Lydia Holmes and Alvin Hobson playing the characters.

Warning was founded and is directed by contemporary art collector Brian Nixon and aims to challenge the conservative Northern Irish art establishment, which tends to focus on attractive and representational art.

WARNING! This is Contemporary Art is the first in series of exhibitions by The Warning Art Gallery.

Modelling itself on the contemporary art scenes of London, New York and Berlin, the gallery will put on a series of exhibitions that explore 21st century life and offer edgier contemporary artists a chance to display their work in Northern Ireland, rather than waiting to be taking up by galleries in England or further afield.

Monday to Saturday 10.30am-5.30pm (Fridays until 8pm). Over-18s only. Entry free.

Ciaran Magill, Coming Closer (2012). Pastel on paper.© Brendan Jamison

DAVIDSON, JENNI. "Warning! This is Contemporary Art: a new exhibition shakes up the Belfast art scene" , Culture24, Brighton, England, 30 May 2012



Last chance to see: Interplanetary Revolution

at the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast


By Jenni Davidson | 20 March 2012



Brendan Jamison, Submarine Series (2012). Microcrystalline and paraffin wax over wood on loose sugar crystals. © Brendan Jamison

Interplanetary Revolutions, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast, until March 24 2012

Communism is so successful that all the capitalists have been driven from planet earth, so Comrade Cominterov flies to Mars and conquers all the capitalists on that planet too.

That is the plot of Interplanetary Revolution, a slightly crazy Soviet propaganda cartoon from 1924.

Clearly this is a storyline that lends itself to reinterpretation in art, which is exactly what a group of artists have done at the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast.

Interplanetary Revolution the exhibition examines failed ideologies, the uncanny, otherworldliness and the revolutionary. It also undermines assumptions and subverts expecting relationships, including how an exhibition should be run.

The exhibition is really three separate exhibitions with different curators, merging two new exhibitions with a reworking of a third one. Some of the work changes through the time it’s on show, other parts of the display are unfinished, and some may never be finished.

There are over 30 artists involved, including Brendan Jamison, Colin Darke, Ryan Moffett and Charles Burns and Gerry Gleason.

Jamison’s wax submarines in bright Lego colours sail, dive and shatter in a sea of sugar, bringing to mind childhood play and dream worlds.

The installation also echoes oceanic utopias, such as the nautical underworld of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, where the Nautilus roams free of any government, and the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, where Pepperland is a musical undersea paradise, which is attacked by music-hating Blue Meanies.

Colin Darke’s Parados GTG consists of 60 oil paintings based on a newsreel video of Lenin giving a speech. The paintings have then been photographed in stop motion and reproduced as a new film.

Darke’s work references the Greek chorus in Antigone and Bertolt Brecht’s statement that film can be used in epic theatre as an optical chorus.

From one extreme to another, The Girls’ Smurfette has become a blue pin up model while Jonas Mekas’ The Brig is a pseudo-documentary film where a group of prisoners are beaten and forced to perform pointless, repetitive tasks.

The opening of the exhibition involved the experimental Factotum Choir singing in praise of silicon and a silent cocktail bar by Shiro Masuyama, where drinks had to be bought with a special revolutionary currency and consumed in a curtained booth wearing headphones, so expect all kinds of strangeness!

On Thursday 22 March Michael Hanna will hold a talk about the psychological themes raised by Interplanetary Revolution. For more information see

Tuesday-Saturday 10.30am-5.30pm, Saturday 10.30am-4pm. Admission free.


DAVIDSON, JENNI. "Interplanetary Revolution at the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast" ,

Culture24, Brighton, England, 20 March 2012





Sweetness and light: Belfast artist's sugar

sculpture goes on display at 10 Downing Street


By Jenni Davidson | 15 February 2012


Brendan Jamison, Number 10 (2012). Carved sugar cubes

© Tony Corey for Jamison Sculpture Studio

Artist Brendan Jamison is injecting a bit of sweetness into British politics with

sculpture of the door of 10 Downing Street made entirely out of sugar cubes.

Whereas most art is displayed in a white cube, Jamison’s art is made of white cubes.

The scale model of the iconic door uses 5,117 sugar cubes and took two months to make. Jamison used a special glue that is absorbed into the sugar to hold the cubes together.

The Belfast sculptor is well known for his sugar art, having already carved models of Belfast City Hall, Tate Modern and the Reichstag out of sugar.

Jamison’s use of sugar cubes as an artistic material references gender roles, combining the masculinity of building blocks and the feminine, fairytale quality of the sweet sugar.

Sugar has a long connection to British art, as Sir Henry Tate, the 19th century sugar magnate, funded the Tate Gallery – now Tate Britain – and gifted his art collection to the nation.

The Number 10 sculpture is on display behind the real door of 10 Downing Street until May along with the work of seven other artists as part of an exhibition of contemporary British craft.

Curated by former Saatchi Gallery curator Janice Blackburn, the exhibition, A Celebration of UK Arts and Crafts, is part of an ongoing exhibition to promote British craft to visiting dignitaries. New artists take over every few months.



DAVIDSON, JENNI. "Sweetness and light: Belfast artist's sugar sculpture goes

on display at 10 Downing Street", Culture24, Brighton, England, 15 February 2012





The Culture24/7: Things to see in Northern Ireland


By Jenni Davidson | 05 January 2012



We take a look at some of the best shows in Northern Ireland to kick off 2012...

Counterpoint, Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast, until January 29 2012

Counterpoint examines the work of five young artists working at the crossover between contemporary sculpture and installation. Claire Morgan, Brendan Jamison, Clive Murphy, Julie McGowan and Martin Boyle are each showing a large-scale sculpture with four of the works being produced in the gallery itself.


DAVIDSON, JENNI. "Things to see in Northern Ireland", Culture24, Brighton, England, 5 January 2012





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