I’ve got to know the chic ceramicist Milly Dent over the last fifteen months as we both have a studio at The Nest Creative Space in Alexandria, Sydney. Milly, or Mills as she is better known is a wonderful inspiration and a workhorse for want of a better word, she puts in the crucial hours and as you can see, gets the results. Her ceramics grace the greatest tables and retail spaces all over the globe, just so you know. This new body of work was created exclusively for NGV Melbourne, an interpretation of their current exhibition, “Degas: A New Vision.” Focusing on form and finish, Mills used marbling and brush strokes to highlight certain aspects in Degas’ latter body of work, “The Bathers.” I was delighted to style it alongside photographer Amy Piddington and discover that despite my typically maximal style, can do minimalism too… my favourite image from the series, as above, is so beautiful in all it’s simplicity. Here, Mills shares with us her awesome taste in music, what makes her happy and how she keeps on keeping on. Enjoy. X
Tell us a little about yourself.
Okay! I’m a ceramic designer, originally from Queensland and now based at The Nest in Alexandria, surrounded by a lovely bunch of creative legends. I hand-make tableware that is based on the simple ideal of making daily dining rituals exciting. Most of my work is made to be equal parts sculptural and utilitarian, and I use a mix of traditional and contemporary methods including slip casting, press moulding and marbling to craft my work.
As soon as I started working with clay I loved it. I loved the feeling of it in my hands, I loved the control I had as the maker of prototyping, creating, glazing, firing and finishing. Having control over every stage of the design process was the best, and also it’s such a fun material to play with everyday. I enjoy exploring its possibilities and limitations and pushing the boundaries to see how far I can go.
You’ve accomplished so much with your brand for someone so young. What drives you every day? And what advice could you give to others starting out?
I suppose I just enjoy doing what I do, a lot! I like my studio, I like my projects, and I appreciate that I’m super lucky to be doing what I do. I wouldn’t have dreamt I could have been in this position a couple of years ago. Advice wise.. Be curious!!! and try not to be overwhelmed in the process. Follow leads that are interesting and also keep in mind that you are your own worst critic.
If you were to set a table with your best wares, who’s coming to dinner?
My fun friends, all of them.
What has been your favourite project to date?
My most recent body of work I created for the National Gallery of Victoria is my favourite, (probably because its fresh!). NGV approached me to make a range of wares based on Edgar Degas’ work being exhibited at the gallery. In this range I created fluid, curved, asymmetrical shapes that were chosen as a reflection of the human body in unusual positions that Degas explored in his later work, “The Bather’s”. This series explores in particular his work of woman bathing, and his soft romantic colour palate and peach nude tones in contrast to the blacks.
It’s your Sliding Doors moment…What would you be doing if it wasn’t ceramics?
Heh, I’d be an Underwater Wildlife Videographer.
Ashanti, chocolate for my first meal and bad jokes.
What makes you happy?
Rooftops, travelling, the ocean, my pals, burrata and my family.
Flowers this pic by Amelia Toohey of The Flower Era. X