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Tania Babb

My sculptures are mainly about people, their relationships to each other, their relationship to their animals and things close to their heart. These relationships are revealed to the sensitive observer by little gestures and subtle body language.

The porcelain I most frequently use (when fired to a high temperature and glazed ) has a surface reminiscent of the vulnerability of human flesh. Most of the sculptures are porcelain white. The lines on the work, the outline of the body, the hair, the face, have had a black underglaze rubbed into them, and this superimposes a linear quality onto a rounded sculpture. There are sometimes flashes of gold lustre in the hair. The smooth body of a nude woman nonchalantly lounges in a textured armchair with an ambivalent index finger stroking the head of a cat rubbing up against the chair. The couple walks arm in arm with their children. The wavy-haired Godiva sits astride a rhinoceros or an elephant.

Sometimes I get a yearning for colour; this is when I make sculptures out of rusty earthenware clay. I sit at my table, with on it every underglaze and slip-colour pulled down from the shelf, and then I paint. I paint the colour directly onto the wet earthenware clay. Inspired by the likes of Irma Stern and Cezanne, I dab an aubergine shadow against a peach coloured nose. I use the surface of the sculpture as a canvas: I rub the colour into the clay surface, marry the colour and the clay, scratch lines and textures into the colour, and squelch another pigment into those lines. These sculptures tend to be much bigger, much less polished, a human or an animal, body or face, rough, grogg surfaces, colourful and so matt that light seems to be swallowed by the surface.

My sculptures are cameos of everyday modern life. There is a veneration of life, and positive, life-affirming sentiments exude from the pieces, sometimes gently humorous. The lightness of spirit belies the solidity of the sculptures.