Introducing long time JB lady (and good friend of ours) Milly Dent! Milly is a Sydney based Ceramic artist and designer who who specialises in porcelain tableware and sculptures. If you're not already familiar with Milly Dent you might recognise her distinctive marbling style and unique geometric tableware. Milly studied a Bachelor of Design at UNSW's College of Fine Arts (COFA) before starting her own business in 2014. Since then Milly has dominated the ceramic scene, creating stunning bodies of work and collaborating with the NGV, the Sydney Opera House and Messina (to name a few!) We spent an afternoon with Milly in her Marrickville based studio and chatted all things clay, design, travel and fashion!
Wearing Jagger Dress
When did you start doing ceramics? How did your passion for it grow?
I first started working with clay at university. I was studying a bachelor of design - and as soon as I started working with clay I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. I had an innate desire to make and clay provided me a material from which I could craft something from essentially nothing.
Porcelain and marbling seem to be your signature, what inspired you to develop the marbling?
I love the use of cobalt blues against white, translucent porcelain. It's stood the test of time as a combination, with ancient Chinese and Japanese ceramics celebrating the duo. My marbling is a contemporary twist on what is traditionally a paint brush onto the porcelain, by using liquid porcelain spinning it around a mould and freezing / firing it in the fluidity of it's making.
You have spent a lot of time abroad on artist residencies, what were your experiences like on these? How did they help you grow as an artist?
Incredible! The material history of porcelain is what drives my practise, so these experiences learning from traditional craftsman have provided me with an incredible opportunity to expand my knowledge on a material that's been used to make tableware for more than two thousand years. Not to mention the inspiration, time and space that a new country / studio provides to make new and exciting work.
Wearing Angie Shirt
Your recent exhibition Wishful Thinking showcased some beautiful sculptural pieces. What was the process of creating this body of work?
These works were crafted in Jingdezhen, which is the birthplace of porcelain in the world. My intention when making this work was to pay homage to the power of tactility and texture and complex matrixes found in nature.
I developed a series of forms which are somewhat zoomorphic, visually alluring yet possibly tactilely repellent. The works give off a dynamic sense of something taking shape with subtle shifts in surface finish, from raw unglazed porcelain to a full spectrum of traditional Chinese Celadon gloss glazes, resulting, in a collection of coral, growth-like creatures.
Wearing Jagger Dress
How has COVID affected you as an artist? Have there been any positives?
It's has had it challenges but all in all things are not bad! I was lucky enough to be able to work at the studio through this period, so had space and time to develop new work while things were on the quieter side. Things seem to be picking up, people are spending more time at home and so are buying nice things for themselves! So they should!
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Relaxed, natural and occasionally quirky. I’ve been wearing Jillian Boustred since the brand began five years ago - I love garments that allow me to move with ease around the studio and linen definitely does that!
Wearing Annie Blouse
Milly's work will be available to shop at this weeks Studio Pop Up Shop!