by JAMES B. WEBSTER
Martyrs is an installation of 9 sculptures based on the Ancient Greek herma, offertory sculpture used to safe guard travellers. These sculptures would either represent the image of Hermes the god of travellers or that of an important leader or family member.
Webster has reinvented this sculpture to represent both personal and social subjects. He more immediately conceives the threat in today’s travel from extremists and political objectors by using the Herma. But Webster takes the sculpture, a portrait, surmounting a 4 sided column with the genitals protruding from the center; as a way to consider the many layers to threat. Martyrdom is the prevailing theme in the portraits, the subject, he describes, is that of martyrs who are victims, casualties and martyrs for personal sacrifice in both belief and cause. Race and gender, body and soul dispel preconceptions and stereotypes and take this ancient concept in to a very present day commentary, particularly with the inclusion of women in this traditionally male image.
This is Webster’s second installation in porcelain and concrete, this time unifying the two. The softness and sensitivity of the porcelain bound to the rough columns of concrete. The last installation saw the porcelain in the form of animal bones in the installation “trophies”. This again was a memory of life at its most vivid, explored again here, behind the closed eyes of the martyrs final decision.