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The Flowing Porcelain

Is it possible to depict water in porcelain in a way that it looks realistic? 

Babs created a series of artworks that does just that. It is called the Flow collection and it was created between 2011 and 2017 when Babs was living and working in China at her Jingdezhen studio. If you remember from my previous blog, Jingdezhen is the “Porcelain Capital” and it is no wonder that this collection beautifully brings together the majesty of Chinese waterfalls and the peaceful charm of the Dutch coast. In Babs’s own words: “Water is closely linked to movement, which is the main motif of my work“. The core idea behind all her artworks is nature’s dynamic interplay through porcelain.  

Image 1: Flow Vase Small, 2015

Each piece in the Flow collection features basic shapes with lively sculptural reliefs, adorned with floating colours and patterns. While every piece is unique, they all belong to a family of vessels, each with its own identity. Blacks, blues and oranges are mixed into the molds, giving each item a unique personality through meticulous craftsmanship. The vibrant motifs reflect the dynamic decoration, reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism and the fluidity of Far East calligraphy. A standout feature is the sunflower-shaped rim. The sunflower, symbolizing vitality and light, adds an organic touch to each piece.

Image 2: Flow Collection Studio Jingdezhen

Babs developed a new casting technique for the Flow collection, combining colour, drawing and structure. Each piece starts with a handmade plaster model, the molds are cast from these models and then carefully reworked by hand, ensuring every vessel retains its distinctive character. 

Image 3: Making Plaster Model

The porcelain is white and translucent from enduring high firing temperatures. Initially, the raw porcelain is hardened at 990°C. A thin glaze layer is then applied by hand, and the vessel undergoes a second firing at temperatures up to 1320°C, known as “glost firing.” This 12-hour process ensures the glaze fuses seamlessly with the porcelain, enhancing its translucency and durability. 

Image 4: Guan Lin Wang organising the artworks for the first firing

This Flow collection is also important to Babs because it is a collaboration between her and her close friend and assistant, while she was in China, Guan Lin Wang. Together, they created vessels that are not just functional as cups, beakers, bowls and other utensils, but also invite anyone who takes a look at them to touch and admire them.  

Image 5: Jingdezhen Greenland Group (Milan) ceramic culture and art exhibition

Babs’s Flow collection is not just a line of porcelain vessels. Each piece tells its own story while contributing to a harmonious whole, much like the elements of nature from which Babs draws inspiration. Through new techniques and a deep respect for tradition, Babs created a collection that brings closer art and functionality, making it both timeless and contemporary. So, what do you think about Babs’s Flow Collection? Share your thoughts on our social media channels!

Until the next blog, stay Artsy! (-‿◦)

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