Meet the Curator: Verity Babbs

For our annual Winter Auction, Art on a Postcard has invited six guest curators - we will be introducing each curator with a short interview. Each curator's mini auction will be open from 9-23 November via Dreweatts Auction House alongside Art on a Postcard's main auction. 

This week we sat down with Verity Babbs, a presenter, art critic and comedian from Northampton.

Could you provide a brief overview of your career in the art world? How did arrive at your current position?   

After studying History of Art at Oxford I worked in the commercial art world for a couple of years but didn't feel particularly happy. There wasn't much laughter and there was a lot of pressure on being seen at the right events, getting the right invites, knowing the right people, and behaving in the right way. I had been doing improv and stand-up since university and during the first COVID lockdown I started a series of interviews on YouTube with comedians I had met and performed with, chatting to them about an artwork of their choice. In 2021 these developed into live art-themed comedy shows, which I've since taken to the National Gallery, Royal Museums Greenwich, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. I'm now fully freelance and work as a critic and presenter, and have recently worked on a series of videos with Tate. I host Voice FM's weekly Arts & Culture Show for which I'm shortlisted for the Community Radio Awards' Newcomer of the Year award, which was a nice surprise. Each of the different areas of my career are centred around speaking about art in an engaging way, and I'm looking forward to what will come next. 

At AOAP we are always keen to champion emerging talent. What rising stars are you most excited about in your auction?

I'm really pleased that most of the artists in my auction have never taken part in an AOAP auction before. So far in my career I've been afforded some great experiences thanks to the recommendations of people in my network, so I was glad that I was able to invite some really kind folk to take part. It's probably a cheat answer to say "I can't choose! They're all so good!" but I really do love each piece that the artists have donated and they're all headed for really exciting things. 

What artwork would you buy if money was no object?

The first thing that came to mind was Tiz Creel's Space for autonomous imagination (2020) which I saw at Deptford X years ago, which is this fantastic inflatable sculpture. I can imagine nipping in each day for a bit of reflection and a bounce.  

Looking ahead to 2024, what are some of the projects or exhibitions you’re particularly looking forward to?

I'm looking forward to Art Laughs returning to the National Gallery in February, as well as some other fun dates currently in the planning stage. My work can be quite hard to predict more than a month or so in advance, so I'm not sure exactly what 2024 will bring but I'm hopeful that it'll include exciting collaborations, new projects, and good stuff I've not even considered yet. 

What are your top 5 artworks across the auction outside of the artworks you curated?

504. Jack Milroy - 17-1524

512. Selina Snow - Alsorts - Orange

580. 10FOOT - Rainham Barges

260. Jonathan R Bennett - Empty Rhetoric

378. Winnie Hall - Good Luck From Stone Henge 2 

Headshot Photography Credit: Karla Gowlett

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