3 minutes reading time (550 words)

Fire and Water

I become very excited by the prospect of delivering gallons of water through my sculptures, dropping it strategically here and there to add another dimension of drama to my work. Water, by contrast, seems far less interested in the collaboration and has proven at times to be an incredibly uncooperative partner! Experimentation and perseverance is the name of the game and over the past 6 months I have upped my metal working skills no end - allowing me to funnel streams of water exactly where I want them.

The Puffin's Delight 

Take my puffin water feature - "The Puffin's Delight" - for example; I split the flow of the pump 4 ways, 2 of which are piped up through 2 of the 3 webbed toes of the little bird's left foot, up her leg into her body where they split, 1 pipe delivering a stream of water through her opposite, elevated webbed foot and the second through her beak, jammed full of tasty sandeels. The legs, the fish, the beak all the pipe work and indeed the armature itself are cut, beaten, welded, grooved and buffed by my talented assistants and I from our reclaimed stainless steel stocks.


My enhanced metal working skills allow me to balance Airborne, my swan taking flight, on the very tip of his right palmate (the technical term for a webbed foot) which is skimming the top of the water. This is his only connection to the stainless steel pedestal upon which he strides. The welded support that makes this connection is concealed below the level of the water. Through the webbed toes stream the water, up his leg into his body, half destined to drop through his tail feathers and the remainder dropping from the tip of the opposite webbed foot.

The Sunflower Hare 

Another sculpture that makes use of my stainless steel craftsmanship is my Sunflower Hare flying through a bunch of those glorious flowers. I am quite proud of my sunflowers; they are made entirely from recycled stainless steel pipes and old suspension cable.

The Bulrush Respite

My dragonflies resting on the head of a bulrush, is also made from reworked, recycled stainless steel. Those familiar with my work will notice a dab of colour here and there. I have highlighted the odd feature with automotive acrylic paint.


And finally, "Muscovado" is my first charred stallion. Charring has been used for centuries to protect wood - the Japanese mastered the technique, called "Yakisugi" sometime during the 18th century as a means to weatherproof cedar wood. My material is extremely long lasting, it was the dark finish that I attracted me to the technique. The process is more difficult than it seems and took 4 of us a week or so to finish. One has to use a fine flame to get into the knooks and crannies of the of the grain, pressure wash, rubdown with wire wool and start the process again. It took some 4 passes to get the effect that I was looking for. Now I am hunting for more willing subjects to burn! 

Happy Christmas from James Doran-Webb
Exhibitions 2022

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