Irish whiskey brand, Jameson, has collaborated with French artist Sylvain Ristori to create a piece of public art for Belfast. The wooden ‘Living Barrels’ sculpture, now in situ at The National in the city’s Cathedral Quarter, has been designed using recycled barrels from Midleton Distillery, previously used to age Jameson Whiskey.
All of Ristori’s works feature recycled or found materials and this new creation is his first piece of art in Ireland. Featuring three faces created from the barrel staves, the ‘Living Barrels’ artwork represents the human story and history behind the world’s number one Irish whiskey brand. Three faces were chosen to highlight that the brand was developed by not one person but a whole community of people; from the distillers to the barley and maize farmers; from the coopers to its founder John Jameson. The faces also represent the social side of the brand.
Commenting on the new installation, artist Sylvain Ristori said: “I wanted to depict the life of this special whiskey through the creation and making of Jameson as human adventure; the working processes, the people and thinkers, and the maturation process; how, through the wood holds, keeps and shapes the liquid. So that’s why I called this project ‘living barrels – I wanted to show the life through it.
“It was an intense nine-day installation, with my assistant Florien. The wood is oak, it’s tough and it’s very stable but it requires a lot of determination and with the inclement Belfast weather, it was quite an adventure; so I’m very satisfied to see the final piece.
“I hope that people will ask themselves questions when they see the piece, that they will try to feel, rather than think about what it means to them.”
Karen Anderson, brand manager for Jameson Irish Whiskey at Dillon Bass said: “We’ve linked up with a range of artists to custom-build a number of pieces of art for Belfast on behalf of the Jameson brand including the Barrel Man in The Dirty Onion and the Black Barrel sculpture in the courtyard of Bullitt Hotel and we wanted to add to this eye-catching collection.
“Sylvain is a fantastic sculptor and we loved the concept that he developed. We were really impressed by his woodwork skills and we were very keen to reuse the barrels that were previously used to age our whiskey for this piece.
“The sculpture is in place in The National in Belfast, which is a social venue for friends and family to meet for drinks, and we feel this is a very fitting location for this piece of art as Jameson has brought people together in celebration for years.”
Carrie Neely, director of Art Loves, also added: “Art Loves is delighted to have commissioned ‘Living Barrels’ by international sculptor Sylvain Ristori on behalf of Jameson and The National. As an art consultancy, we are highly encouraged that Jameson is setting such a great example by using art to capture imaginations. The idea behind ‘Living barrels’ is about community and the sculpture itself has been created for the people of Belfast.
“As an artist focused on sustainability, Sylvain only works with recycled or found materials which is why he was chosen to create this spectacular artwork out of recycled Jameson barrel staves and we hope that the people of Belfast come to see ‘Living Barrels’ for themselves.”
Tim Herron, Operations Manager for Beannchor, owners of The National, Belfast, also added: “When The National was revamped earlier this year, sustainability was a core consideration in this re-development, so we loved the approach Jameson and the artist took to create this sculpture by reusing materials previously used to age the whiskey. We are really happy with the final piece and hope all our customers enjoy this artwork in The National.”