James Do­ran-Webb ex­plores the art world with driftwood

Cebu Living - - Front Page - By MONA POLO Im­ages by EDRIC CHEN of AT EAST JED ROOT

James Do­ran-Webb gal­lops through the art world with mov­ing pieces

There is a cir­cus in his head. Or per­haps menagerie is the more ap­pro­pri­ate term. Horses, lots of horses. And ele­phants and lions, bears and hares, hounds, geese, owls, meerkats, a hen, a squir­rel, a boar. When they make it out of his head and into his ter­ra­cotta- tiled stu­dio, they ap­pear to gal­lop, stalk, swoop, rut, race, and romp in full, three­d­i­men­sional ac­tion, ex­cept they are all made of wood and stain­less steel— driftwood, in fact, from long- dead trees sourced from Cebu and its neigh­bor­ing is­lands, and scrapped stain­less steel from junk­yards, which he welds into his an­i­mals’ skele­tons.

Meet James Do­ran Webb, ex- Iron­man, ex- ad­ven­ture racer, all- around out­doors­man, for­mer an­tiques dealer, maker of fine fur­ni­ture, and sculp­tor of ex­cep­tional driftwood an­i­mals. He moved here from the UK as a teenager on an ex­tended jaunt, and has been a Cebu res­i­dent for 28 years.

Webb de­scribes his younger self as “be­ing to­tally un­in­ter­ested and par­tic­u­larly medi­ocre in bi­ol­ogy while at school.” Yet early on in his work­ing life, he was coax­ing life- sized gi­raffes, English bulls, and fair­ground horses out of pa­pier- mâché and mak­ing “up- mar­ket an­i­mal mo­biles out of wood, rat­tan, me­tal, and a whole rake of other ma­te­ri­als.” His in­stinc­tive feel for anatomy and mus­cle move­ment shows through in his dy­namic sculp­tures, and it was the pro­posal for such sculp­tures that he sub­mit­ted for his first ever stand at Lon­don’s Chelsea Flower Show in 2012.

The Chelsea Flower Shop is or­ga­nized by the Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety ( RHS) and at­tended by no less than Queen El­iz­a­beth II her­self. “I was as­ton­ished to be ac­cepted im­me­di­ately at the Chelsea Flower Show, as the usual wait­ing list for sculp­tors and artists is eight- plus years,” he says. Ac­cep­tance into the show meant Webb had to throw ev­ery­thing into that first ex­hibit. But while the artis­tic as­pect was brim­ming, the war chest was not, with funds badly re­quired to trans­port him­self and his life- sized sculp­tures from Cebu and set them up in Lon­don for the five- day show.

“I sold what­ever I could: all my an­tiques, my sa­cred road bike, even my sala set, and when that wasn’t enough, I bor­rowed money



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