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Turbulent vessels

As stated in my previous blog, I have already interviewed Babs once last year, before the start of the Archivorum project. What has stuck with me the most is one of Babs’ passions and a crucial source of inspiration for her work: dancing. Looking at her sculptures and vases, this might come as a surprise at first glance. Porcelain is a very sturdy, stiff material while dancing is all about movement and emotions. However, taking a longer look at Babs’ work, one discovers that movement is a common theme within her oeuvre.

Babs connection to dancing did not come out of nowhere. Before starting her education at the Rietveld Academy, she studied Dance Expression at the Theater school in Amsterdam. When an injury to her back forced her to stop dancing, she started looking around for other outlets for her creativity. This initially became fashion. Babs began crocheting and knitting and soon created all sorts of intricate patterns. After two years, she also found her way into ceramics, and thus into the Rietveld Academy. As stated before, the influence of her past is still present in her works. By building up different pieces of porcelain in a sculptural way, she creates a certain movement (or choreography?) in the work. Additionally, Babs finds it important that her work evokes a desire to touch and actually feels pleasing. Her past as a dancer is again reflected in this tactile aspect of her work.

When I visited Babs at her house to work on the archive last Friday, she told me about The Turbulent Vessel, a catalogue about her work by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Marjan Boot, conservator at the museum at the time and author of this publication, came up with this effective title for Babs’ vases. Up until today, Babs continues to use this name for a selection of her work. While it is quite hard to describe, I think one would understand the aptly description of Marjam Boot when looking at these works.

For now, it is my challenge to put these turbulent vessels into an orderly archive. For this process, I think it is important to include aspects of Babs’ personal life such as her dancing career. This is the kind of information that helps to understand both the artist’s motivations and the works on a deeper level. Apart from dancing and fashion, Babs mentioned a range of other sources of inspiration too. I can’t wait to explore those further as well!

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