Sugar sculptor Brendan Jamison's tribute to war dead

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image copyrightTONY COREY
image captionThe 2ft high sculpture took six weeks to complete

It is a labour of love dedicated to the thousands of Ulster and Irish men who died at the Battle of the Somme.

Sculptor Brendan Jamison's latest carving in sugar cubes is of the Thiepval Tower in France.

It stands in tribute to the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division killed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

For Jamison, there is a personal sorrow, as his great great uncle numbered among the Somme dead.

"Thomas McCann was from Omeath. He was perhaps considered old as he was 30 years of age when he died and now he lies buried in a war grave in France," he said.

Jamison has carved the Tate Modern and the door of 10 Downing Street in sugar cubes; he has travelled the world and brought joy with his intricate sparkling work - but this project was different.

"I felt the whole weight of the history bearing down and thought about how so many people lost their lives," he said.

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image captionSculptor Brendan Jamison with his model of the Tate Modern

"I wanted to make this tower, in their memory, as perfect as possible."


Thomas McCann was from Omeath, County Louth. Brendan treasures the war medals that were handed down through the family to him.

The Thiepval Memorial tower mirrors Helen's Tower in County Down where so many men from the Ulster Division trained before heading off to the battlefields of France.

The sculptor visited the Somme Heritage Centre and used photographs and the actual architectural plans for Thiepval to render a work that was as accurate as he could make it.

The result is a model that is 2ft high and took six weeks to complete.

"I used about 5,000 sugar cubes in total," said the sculptor.

"The tower is Scottish baronial style and there is a lot of intricate carving. It meant a large amount of fine detailed work. Only about one in 10 sugar cubes will take the carving so it takes a lot of patience," he said.

"But when you get the magic sparkle from the sugar crystals glistening, it is worth it."

The Thiepval Tower is on display as part of the Royal Ulster Academy's annual exhibition at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

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