In 1978–79 she started her own studio in Amsterdam-West, which she shared with Geert Lap until 1981, and Irene Vonck from 1981 to 1984. She made study trips to Mexico in 1982, to Cappadocië in Turkije in 1988, and to Japan in 1991.
One of her first major solo exhibitions was in the Gallery Aspects in London in 1985; followed by solo-exhibitions in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam in 1993 and 1998; at the Clara Scremini Gallery in Paris in 1995, 1996, 2002 and 2008; and at the Galerie Carla Koch in Amsterdam in 2008, 2009 and 2009, among other places.
Although Nanning was trained as a ceramic designer, since 1995 she also made a lot of works with glass. In addition to her smaller works, she regularly receives commissions for monumental works that were placed in the public space. Flowers thereby form a recurring topic, such as in the 11 ceramic flower shapes she made in 1999 for the National Police. In 2001 Nanning explained about the central theme in her work:
Nature is my source: plants, leaves, roots, water and the wind. Natural phenomena have been an everlasting inspiration for me, be it the Milky Way or the rise and fall of waves in an eternal, natural movement. In clay, my thrown shapes have evolved into concentric spinning objects without a beginning or end. They represent eternal movement, the primeval source of life on earth. In order to make these forms seem even more weightless, intangible and floating, I gave them a rich, velvety surface and a light monochrome colour.
Since 1990, colour has played an essential role in my work. I do not use traditional glazes, but bright-coloured pigments that belong to the domain of the painter. As a result, I have access to a palette of colours that is not normally a part of my field. Bright red, brilliant yellow, intense blue and deep purple give my work an unexpected dimension... I work in series, making groups of works based on a common theme, including the Galaxy, Terra, Hydras, Botanica and Coral Reef series. 'Siren' is a red sculpture from the Botanica series. It is formed from different hand thrown segments and hand-built leaves and is inspired by the Greek mythology. The Sirens were beautiful women with irresistible singing voices who lived in a treacherous rock formation in the middle of the sea. They had a fatal attraction on passing sailors. 'Siren' symbolises a freakish forbidden attraction.
- 1997 Liggende bloem, Aalsmeer
- 1999 Bloemknoppen, at the Korps Landelijke Politiediensten (KLPD) in Driebergen
- 2007 Petrified Dynamic Flows, Fuji-monument in Gotenba
- L. Crommelin, P. Donker-Duyvis, Barbara Nanning, Galaxy & Terra, Ceramics - Reizen in tijd en ruimte, Amsterdam, 1993.
- T.G. te Duits, Barbara Nanning Evolution, Amsterdam, 1993 ISBN 90-6617-106-5.
- Biographical data at the Netherlands Institute for Art History
- Nanning, Barbara at capriolus.nl. Accessed 24.05.2015.
- Barbara Nanning CV Archived 2015-05-25 at the Wayback Machine at barbarananning.nl. Accessed 25.05.2015.
- Augustine, P. (2011), "Barbara Nanning creates its own universe" in Fjoezz 2011, no. 2, p. 4-9
- Barbara Nanning interviewed by Liesbeth Crommelin for the Taipei County Yingko Ceramics Museum, Autumn 2001; cited in capriolus.nl, 2015.
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