Man of Many was lucky enough to sit down with Sydney based designer Milly Dent of Milly Dent Design to talk about her stunning pottery, what drives her and what it takes to make it as an artist in the modern age.
MM: What’s your background and how did you get started in pottery making?
I am a maker by nature, with an inherent desire to create things. Everything fell into place with ceramics. My interest in the material was sparked when I first began working with clay within my design degree. Using this material was intuitive and I enjoyed the creative capacity that allowed me to explore the material as well as the challenges that arose due to the structural limitations that came throughout the process of working with porcelain. After completing my bachelor of design at COFA, and a brief period of studying in Montreal, Canada, I was able to explore new technologies of ceramics. I then decided to further investigate my own practice, found a studio space and launched my business, Milly Dent Design. I have an online store, and my work is stocked in a number of design stores and galleries across Australia. I want to make and it is this process of making which satisfies me most. My range of work aims to be a fusion of sculpture and function, with the intention of making daily dining rituals exciting and interesting experiences.
How has your practice change over time?
It is still early days, with my business only launching in March this year, however I feel myself becoming more and more comfortable with material and with each new design aim to make more ambitious pieces. I never thought I would be able to have a ceramic brand, however I feel lucky as due to people’s interest and respect for handcrafted work, I am able to make everyday! When I moved into my studio, I found that space made it possible for me to make bigger, better and more refined works. The space itself changed my practice as I find my studio meditative and calm place to work with limited distractions allowing me to focus on my making.
What art do you most identify with?
The art that I most identify with is all form of art and design which value craftsmanship and a makers touch to refine an object. I’m extremely interested in hand made jewellery and as well as wood-carving and carpentry, and all other skill-based design which require dedication to a certain material or unique skill.
What part of your work do you most enjoying doing?
Luckily I enjoy almost every stage of my process – (sanding excluded). I get enormous satisfaction opening up the glaze kiln after the final firing and seeing the results of the previous weeks work. It is only at this point when you can see the vitrified and translucent qualities as well as true colours of the porcelain. The marbling process is also extremely satisfying as well as challenging techniquely because the intense porcelain colours do not always do what I wan them too. I think these pieces reflect the sensitivity of porcelain.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I have worked in hospitality since I was 15, Bar’s and Café’s have been my previous place of employment which wouldn’t come as much of a surprise, just like everyone else at art school.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
When I know someone is getting enjoyment from a piece I have made it is a fantastic feeling. Particularly being with friends whilst they drink tea from their hand crafted gem cup, or happy customer’s who post their experience of joy and satisfaction with one of my pieces on social media. I enjoy the making as much as I enjoy seeing others get enjoyment from using it.
What superpower would you have and why?
Hmmm I suppose I would like to change the weather to suit the days planned activities or mood- most likely to get the sun out when swimming in the sea, snow on a wintery day or clear skies to see the stars.
What is your dream project?
So many dream projects! I guess to collaborate with all other designers in different fields – to make exciting interesting and ambitious works which are innovative and unique. I love lighting so to make a large lighting installation which investigate the translucency and glow of porcelain would be amazing.
Also to make ceramics which make a difference – haven’t quite figured that out yet but I suppose develop a range of work which could help disadvantaged people somehow.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
Not sure about being compared to, but I get inspiration from artists/makers such as Ariele Alasko and Dion Hortsmans.
Favourite or most inspirational place?
I would have to say my most inspirational places have been particular moments in places such as walking through parc jean mance on a snowy morning to school in Montreal, swimming in the sea in Cuba or watching the sunrise in Africa- these experiences which take your breath away and allow for a feeling that can’t be recreated are the most inspiration in my practice as well as in life in general!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Do more of what makes you happy
Professionally, what’s your goal?
I would like to gain more skills related to making beautiful objects, mastering using different materials, and create a business which philosophy is based on putting beautiful, functional and unique products into the world.
Name three things you couldn’t do without.
Ohhhh tricky…. I would say music, the ocean and my mates!
Check out more of her work here: www.millydentdesign.com.au