Resin tear. Permission for use from: Babs Smith

As art shows around the UK are cancelled, Salford University Alumna Babs Smith manages to showcase her emotional piece ‘On the Verge of Tears’ in the online art exhibition ‘Made it 2020’

Smith is a qualified multidisciplinary artist who recently graduated from Salford University with a degree in fine art.

Her exhibition proposal ‘On the Verge of Tears’, was chosen by curators to be showcased in the online art exhibition ‘Made it 2020’ by Short Supply.

The online exhibition, which will take place on December 10th at 6pm, will be streamed on all of Short Supply’s platforms.

Babs Smith’s submission was initially inspired by the human response to an image of the Earth taken by ‘Voyager’.

‘Voyager’ was a NASA space probe launched in 1977 to study the outer limits of space and the image was the last one taken before it lost its power.

Babs Smith. Permission for use from Babs Smith
Babs Smith. Permission for use from Babs Smith.

“This image brought the same emotion out in everybody, this is us we’re all together, we’re all on this earth, and we’re all looking at the same thing.

“So basically, from that I used tears, because it was quite emotional and it was the one thing we all had in common.”

After collecting samples of tears from 8-9 people, Smith put them through a process called ‘micro to macro’.

Permission for use from: Babs Smith art.
Micro to macro tear. Permission for use from: Babs Smith.

“I’d done quite a lot of work with a scientist, I proceeded to collect tears on slides with a scientist in Salford, put them under the microscope and collected the images – and the images were quite beautiful.

“It wasn’t just the shapes and beautiful patterns; it was actually more the crystallisation that you could watch happening in front of your eyes.”

Smith said: “I went on to have a look at them and then I started to make artwork from them.

“So I made a resin tear, I made tears in plaster, I made tears kind of visually in videos, I made tears with metals.”

Babs Smith talks more about her process and inspiration for ‘On the Verge of Tears’ in the audio clip below:

Smith initially started ‘On the Verge of Tears’ while she was at University, but as lockdown hit, she had to put a halt to her process.

“I was kind of at the point when lockdown came and I was basically looking at bringing it off the wall and getting quite excited about making a sculpture.

“And as that began it was literally the day everything finished.”

In the video below Smith records aspects of making the project:

Babs Smith and the rest of the fine art students had to adjust their exhibition planning due to the lockdown restrictions.

Smith said: “We were told to make our work as big as we like because it would never come to curation, which is quite sad, but it gave me freedom to make a big exhibition proposal.”

After working towards her degree for three years, she was excited to graduate and have her final art exhibition, but due to coronavirus, the graduate art exhibition was cancelled.

“Once lockdown happened I was devastated, I think a lot of us were, but you know I’d waited 20 years to do this degree, and this was the most exciting part.

“I was totally devastated, I couldn’t do anything for a few weeks, and I started to become very reflective on my work.

“We found in the first lockdown that there was a point where we were just on the verge of tears all the time.”

But then Short Supply’s Made it 2020 along and selected her work to be exhibited.

‘Made it 2020’ which is co-directed by the University of Salford graduates Mollie Balshaw and Rebekah Beasley, showcases UK art graduate’s work.

The event, which is sponsored by CASS Art, is in its second year of running.

Last year there was a physical exhibition, however, because of coronavirus, this year it is online.

Those who have been chosen for the event are up for the chance of winning the Curator’s Choice award, CASS Art Prize and People’s choice.

Babs Smith said: “I put in for it – but a lot of people put in for it, and there are only two from each university that are accepted on to it.

“So this year it’s quite grand because it’s online it can be, and it’s a really good opportunity and it’s with some really good curators who have chosen the work.”

Babs’ proposal includes 30 plaster tiles etched with magnified tears, forming a physical verge around the viewer, and a film that explores the tension in the tear.

“So basically, my exhibition proposal has actually now got a chance to be aired, in a professional forum, with Made It.”

You can see Babs’ submission on December 10th at 6pm

For more on Babs and her work, you can also visit her website



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