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The Tree Climbing Lions of Lake Manyara, a Lifesized Driftwood Sculpture by James Doran Webb

The Tree Climbing Lions of Lake Manyara. 350 x 200 x 450(h) cms. See full details and video below. The Lions are currently on display in Berkshire and viewing can be arranged by appointment.

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The Tree Climbing Lions of Lake Manyara 350 x 200 x 450(h) cms. 1000kgs.

This sculpture was conceived when James found a beautiful dead tree which was begging to be brougt back to life.  He moved all 800kg of it to his studio from the remote hills 100km away. Once there, he made a number of sketches of the tree, the last of which served as the blueprint for the final sculpture. He has worked out that he and his small team spent some 3,000 hours bracing the tree with a network of 75mm thick stainless tubing that they embedded into the inner core of the tree, connecting the body of the tree to a massive stainless steel foot at the bottom, and bolting onto the individual armatures of the lionesses on the other side.  

Having braced the tree, he started work on the Lionesses. The first that James made was the top Lioness, standing proud and alert. The second was the lioness descending the tree and the last was the resting lion, which is actually James's favorite.

Throughout the making of the sculpture, James was in close touch with the Chief Warden of Lake Manyara, Mr. Njau Dominican, and his staff - and they gave invaluable background information.  When this sculpture is sold, James will donate 10% of the proceeds to Lake Manyara to assist with radio collars for the distinctive members of the 7 prides that roam the National Park.

The making of the Tree Climbing Lions was an emotional helter skelter. Some days went blindingly well and they were inevitably balanced with periods of bleak disenchantment. Sleepless nights would draw James to the studio at 4:00am and he would rarely leave before 8:00-9:00 at night. Due to the size and nature of work, the 4 components of the sculpture had to be made separately from one another, and it was really difficult to get an idea of how the finished piece might look. James eventually erected the tree in late March (some 10 months after having found it) and on one glorious afternoon the 3 lionesses were winched into place. By the time the three armartures had been bolted to the tree structure, night had fallen and quite by chance a full moon was on the rise. With the moon behind the standing lioness, the sculpture claimed an identity and new life of its own.   About the Artist

Here is a short video clip about James' work in which you can see part of the process of the lion sculpture being made.


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