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Wednesday 25 June 2014

Digital version:


Sugar cube experts do it the NYC way

By Joanne Fleming

25 June 2014

PART of the Manhattan skyline is being recreated with the help of two local sculptors and 250,000 sugar cubes. 

The New York Sugar Metropolis created by Brendan Jamison and Mark Revels opens today in New York — a glittering, imaginary glimpse of the future put together with the help of local residents.

The art work is being installed in the new Sugar Hill Museum of Art and Storytelling, which is located in a social housing development in a historic and regenerating part of Harlem.

It is hoped the miniature city of elaborate towers, stately bridges, mountains and a winding river will encourage residents to by, cull some sugar cubes and build their own free-standing creations. Trained volunteers will also be on site to show participants how to stack the sugary building blocks.

The pair created a similar ‘Sugar Metropolis’ exhibition for the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts at the Ulster Museum in October. Attracting over 70,000 visitors, the New York Sugar Metropolis is expected to be an even bigger draw for the local neighbourhood and the international art audience.

Brendan started experimenting with sugar cubes in 2003, with local recreations including Isabella’s Tower in Ardglass. His work has been showcased globally, featuring replicas of the Great Wall of China, Sir Henry Tate’s mausoleum and the iconic front door at 10 Downing Street, which stood on display there in 2012.

Award winning sculptor Mark has enjoyed high-profile projects with the BBC, Channel 4 and London’s West End theatre companies, and internationally he has exhibited in China, Europe and America. With a home studio based in Loughbrickland Mark also works for the Downpatrick based Down Community Arts.

Together over the past month they have created the first quarter of the New York Sugar Metropolis project, but now it is in the hands of the public to complete.

“It has been an amazing project to work on,” said Brendan. “Sugar Hill is a magical area of Harlem with the most beautiful styles of architecture anywhere in Manhattan.

“The whole community has been so welcoming, it has been a joy to engage with the locals and the staff of ‘No Longer Empty’, the arts organisation hosting the opening exhibition.

“This is a giant collaborative sculpture project and it belongs to everyone who contributes. We are excited to see all the styles of buildings which develop over the next seven weeks as the public help construct a city of the future with their own imagination.”

Mark said it had been a pleasure to see the “smiles and laughter” of local residents young and old who stopped by to play and explore.

“We have enjoyed responding to the architecture of New York, especially the iconic bridges and dramatic skyscrapers,” he said. “It has also been an opportunity to introduce elements of my current research into virus structures. For the sugar city, the viruses I wish to spread, to go ‘viral’ with, are that of positivity, community spirit and fun.”

The New York Sugar Metropolis exhibition has been organised by a former Guggenheim curator, Manon Slome, who, since 2009, has been President and Chief Curator of ‘No Longer Empty’, a not-for-profit arts organisation dedicated to rejuvenating empty spaces and neglected neighbourhoods in New York City. 

The exhibition, funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland, LuLu LoLo Productions and the Northern Ireland Bureau, New York, runs until August 10.


FLEMING, JOANNE. "Sugar cube experts do it the NYC way",

Down Recorder, Northern Ireland, Wednesday 25 June 2014, p. 40




Wednesday 24 April 2013



FLEMING, JOANNE. "Glue: new exhibition at Down Arts Centre",

Down Recorder, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland,

Wednesday 24 April 2013, p. 40



Wednesday 10 April 2013




FLEMING, JOANNE. "The Glue in the exhibition",Down Recorder,

Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, Wednesday 10 April 2013, p. 27



Wednesday 9 May 2012

FLEMING, JOANNE. "Mournes haunt in exhibition",

Down Recorder, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, Wednesday 9 May 2012, p. 41




Wednesday 28 March 2012




Putting sweetness

into Isabella's Tower

A UNIQUE sugar sculpture has been built replicating one of Ardglass's defining landmarks.

Isabella’s Tower, the 19th century folly, has been recreated by acclaimed sculptor Brendan Jamison.

Brendan, who recently made headlines with a sugar sculpture of 10 Downing Street — currently in the Prime Minster's front hall — turned his attention to Ardglass when he received a commission from a Belfast couple with fond memories of the seaside village.

Following a photographic inspection of the tower, which consists of two stories, 27 feet high with a diameter of 18 feet, Brendan tried to replicate as much detail as possible in his original.

"The tower has a certain magical charm, with wonderful views from every angle, from Coney Island over to the mystical Mourne Mountains in the distance," he said.

"I sculpted Helen's Tower in Bangor a couple of years ago and I have an interest in this area. My father is from Strangford, I have aunts and uncles still living in the Downpatrick area, and am often in that part of the world."

Brendan was therefore already familiar with the tale of Isabella's Tower, which is perched on top of a hill at the highest point in Ardglass. Built by Aubrey William Beauclerk (1801-1854) as a retreat for his daughter, Isabella, who was suffering from tuberculosis, the site also has a much older significance.

On March 1, 1851, the Down Recorder reported that upon digging the foundations for this ornamental tower, a prehistoric burial ground was discovered, suggesting the mound was raised as a monument to a warrior, bard or chief.

Describing his construction of the tower, measuring 19.5 x 9 x 9 cms, Brendan said the octagonal shape proved complex when it came to carving the sugar cubes.

"It is a long process with specialist tools," he said. "The staircase inside was particularly challenging. It is completely open at the top of the tower so you can look down into the upper room."

Brendan, who gained a BA Honours degree in Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Ulster in 2002, followed by a Masters of Fine Art degree, has been sculpting with sugar since 2003.

"It came purely from me experimenting in the studio," said Brendan, who has since exhibited his unique craft around the world.

Ken and Ann Bartley, from South Belfast, who commissioned Isabella's Tower, met as history researchers at Queen's University.

"We both have a background in the arts, science and history, so always have had an interest in preserving our past," said Ken.

"When we saw in the local papers that Isabella's Tower was for sale, we immediately thought it would be great to buy and restore but unfortunately it was taken off the market shortly afterwards. It looks magnificent and has a wonderful story and history. It would be a shame if it was lost for future generations.

"Alas, our only connection with Ardglass, is the fact that my mother used to holiday there as a child — though we still head there frequently to enjoy its windswept scenery and excellent local bars, so being part of the community would have been an added bonus."

The 19th century folly, Isabella's Tower, which overlooks Ardglass 


FLEMING, JOANNE. "Putting sweetness into Isabella's Tower",

Down Recorder, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, Wednesday 28 March 2012, p. 3






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