Brendan Jamison name








Saturday November 4, 2017



Sugar cubes and Van the Man: jounalist sells his Northern Irish 'escapist' art

Art critic Eamonn Mallie is selling a collection of paintings that helped him forget the Troubles

By Michael Parsons

The well-known Northern Ireland journalist and broadcaster Eamonn Mallie is to sell some of his private art collection at Adam’s ‘Important Irish Art’ auction in Dublin later this month.

Mallie has reported on the Troubles and the subsequent peace process for decades and is a regular contributor to RTÉ and the BBC. But he’s also a well-known art critic, author and collector. Adam’s said he “has recently downsized, found that he had far too many artworks than he could ever hope to hang or display, and has now decided that the time is right to let some of his art find new homes”.

Not many vendors get to write their own catalogue notes for an auction but then Mallie – an acknowledged authority on Northern Irish art especially – is no ordinary vendor.

Explaining how he first became interested in art, Mallie (now 67) recalls that “we always had fine art on our walls during my childhood, at home on the side of a hill in South Armagh. We had a triptych print of ‘The Pope, John F Kennedy and de Valera’ as well as a print of The Hay Wain, by John Constable.”

But he credits his love of art to the influence of Prof Nigel Glendinning, his Spanish lecturer at Trinity College Dublin in the 1970s. Recalling decades of collecting, he said that “as a collector I always loved the chase, the adventure in pursuing the next painting”. Mallie also found that art was an escape from the “very dark world of killings, bombings, maimings and kidnappings” that he covered as a journalist.

Inevitably, much of his collection is of work by Northern Ireland artists but he also collected art from the Republic and Britain. He has consigned some 40 pieces to the Adam’s auction.

The top lot is Night Rider, by Basil Blackshaw, the Northern Ireland artist who died last year. Mallie knew Blackshaw very well, had his portrait painted by him and edited a lavish monograph about the artist in 2003. This large, acrylic-on-canvas painting – Lot 36 in the auction – is dated December 2001, measures 5ft by 7ft and is estimated at €100,000-€150,000. Mallie bought it directly from Blackshaw and said the image was inspired by the artist’s love of cowboy novels and Hollywood westerns.

But possibly the most interesting piece in the Mallie collection is Lot 129, Doorway No 10 Downing Street, a sugar-cube sculpture by Brendan Jamison, estimated at €3,000-€5,000. Jamison, aged 38, was born in Northern Ireland in 1979, graduated with a master of fine art in 2004 from the University of Ulster, studied the history of western architecture at Oxford and interactive art at MoMA, New York. In 2003, he developed a pioneering technique of carving sugar cubes into intricate shapes which are then glued together with a special adhesive. He has received commissions to create sugar-cube sculptures in London, Milan, Beijing, Paris and the US.

Jamison made the original Doorway No. 10 Downing Street – using 5,117 sugar cubes – in 2012. Mallie says: “When I saw 10 Downing Street in Jamison’s studio I asked him to give me ‘first option’ on the work given that I had been through the famous door and stood outside it several times in my professional capacity.”

Still, Mallie was too late as the curator of the exhibition at No 10 bought the piece so it could remain on display in the hallway of the prime ministerial residence. However, Jamison made a second version, which Mallie bought for an undisclosed sum.


PARSONS, MICHAEL. "Sugar cubes and Van the Man: journalist sells his Northern Irish 'escapist' art", The Irish Times, Dublin, Saturday November 4, 2017, p. 5





Wednesday November 4, 2015



Sugar and scale and all things frail in climate change show

By Gemma Tipton

A pleasant 20-minute stroll across the Seine from the CCI, at the Pompidou Centre, Sugar Metropolis, by Northern Irish artists Brendan Jamison and Mark Revels, is haunted by the ghost of another idea so wrong that it’s hard to believe any rational mind could ever have been convinced by it: slavery. Their sweetly glistening, interactive imaginary city, made entirely from sugar, sprawls across a basement space. Get down on its level to be drawn into its world.

Commissions have taken the pair around the globe, from Berlin to Beijing, Los Angeles to London, though perhaps the most surprising one has been the permanent installation of one of their sugar sculptures at 10 Downing Street.

The publication of the University of London’s research on reparations to British slave owners following abolition makes for shocking reading (see the database online at Many of the beneficiaries were the owners of sugar plantations, and yes, they included relatives of current British prime minister David Cameron. Reparations amounted to 40 per cent of the treasury’s annual budget at the time. The slaves themselves got nothing. It’s an unsavoury reflection.

Sugar Metropolis is at the Pompidou Centre until November 22nd;



TIPTON, GEMMA. "Sugar and scale and all things frail", The Irish Times, Dublin, Wednesday November 4, 2015, p. 14







© Brendan Jamison 2000-2017