Visiting Tinka feels like tumbling down a Lewis Carollian rabbit hole. In a small town called Hoevenen near the Antwerp port, Tinka and her husband Kris Fierens renovated a former copper factory into a charming home where objects of all sorts seem to proliferate like ivy. Collecting is rooted in Tinka’s nature: as an artist she combines tons of found objects to sculpt her own jungle. And just like in the woods, her home appears wild but perfectly balanced.
How did you end up in this beautiful copper factory?
Until five years ago, my husband and I were living in the skippers’ quarter of Antwerp and my workplace there was simply too small. At one point, I even had to cut off a piece of an artwork to get it through the door. (laughs) That’s about the time we started looking for some place bigger within a thirty kilometer periphery around the city. We visited the craziest places: a mushroom farm, a truck car wash and even an abandoned gym. It took us three years of intense research to stumble upon this former factory.
Your home is an allegory of ‘stuff’. Is most of it second-hand?
Yes it is. We recuperated practically the entire kitchen from an old skipper’s hotel that the City decided to demolish. Our big stove is second-hand as well, the rugs on the floor belonged to Kris’ parents and the wooden closest was a present from friends. Apart from that, we collect stuff in an almost pathological way, visiting flea markets twice a week. It’s in our nature. What’s more: Kris finds it important to be able to see all his stuff at all times. A storage room would be his utter nightmare. (laughs) So no closets but only racks. Hence the organized chaos in the house.
It took us three years of intense research to stumble upon this former factory.
How does this ‘organized chaos’ relate to your work?
Just like my home, my work consists of an explosion of visual impulses where organic shapes collide with austere architectural forms. My main practice consists of combining elements. Hence my work has a lingual structure: the objects I gather don’t have meaning on their own, like letters. But by combining them, I create a meaningful sculpture, just like a sentence.
Similar to your work, your outfit is quite the explosion of visual impulses as well. One could call you a chameleon of your own art.
It’s funny you mention that. When I’m in my workspace, Kris finds it impossible to spot me because my outfit fuses entirely with the sculptures. I have the same attitude towards clothing as to my art: it’s all about playful combining. But to do this, I need a lot of options. Therefore I’m constantly looking for new clothes and I’m unable to throw anything away. My wardrobe is quite a disaster. (laughs)
Just like my home, my work consists of an explosion of visual impulses.
I create meaningful sculptures just like a sentence.
Are there any colors or prints in particular that you prefer?
I admit having a love for flower prints and odd color combinations, apart from my addiction to stockings. I believe I own about fifty pairs. A lot of them have flowers or dots printed on them, but it might as well be a print of skulls. Stockings are so easy to combine. They make even the silliest skirt look nice. When I travel, half of my luggage space is stuffed with stockings.
You must’ve been a very colorful appearance as a kid?
Oh no. As a teen, I used to be a new waver, all dressed in black. That changed when I was about eighteen years-old. At some point I noticed there were new wavers who took their style quite seriously while for me, it was just plain fun. Once I discovered that, my wardrobe took a turn towards color and that has never changed.
I have the same attitude towards clothing as to my art: it’s all about playful combining.