24th June – 3rd September 2016
Trophies is a series of anatomically correct porcelain sculptures of animal skulls with their vertebrae resting on a concrete and metal plinth.
Inspired by his childhood and an obsession for collecting bones and skulls found in the countryside or in the slaughter house of the surrounding farms, James Webster pushed himself to portray his subjects as accurately as possible. He chose to work with porcelain, a noble and fragile material, to accentuate the preciousness of nature’s balance. Fascinated by Egyptian Art, James imagines all the animals he sculpts in the position of the Great Sphinx of Giza and he works by a series of seven pieces referring to the number of guardians in an ancient temple.
To realise Trophies, James observes real animal skulls and reproduces them in terracotta, adding 20% to their natural size. This model is then chopped into different parts following the natural partition of the skull and a mould of each part is created. Helped by his mother Kit, James prepares the porcelain and pours it into the moulds. When the porcelain drys he puzzles the skull back together and adds the last details with the help of his tools and his fingers. He then puts the sculpture in the kiln. The first firing creates the “biscuit” of the porcelain, the sculpture reduces by 20% and comes back to the size of it’s subject. He glazes the teeth and colours the details by oxidising the porcelain with melted iron. The firing can last up to six days depending the size of the animal.