Workaholic // Milly Dent
The abstract patterns of Milly Dent’s porcelain objects coil in the mind like they coil round the clay they decorate. Only three years after her graduation, Dent’s unique aesthetic – bathed in the blues of Sydney’s rock harbours and pale shores – has already captivated galleries, along with those who embrace her designs purely in their functional aspect. Creating bowls, cups, open saucers, Dent’s practice is an exercise in practicality, yet the artist manages to blend the undeniably utilitarian aspect of her objects with an artistry that makes them beautiful purely as art.
Described in her own words as “a whirlpool of inky blues frozen in the fluidity in which they are created”, her works are a call to the sea, to rocks, to nature’s patterns, and her single-minded vision has brought her exhibitions in the Kerrie Lowe Gallery and the Saint Cloche, as well as recognition in Art Month Sydney. But her approach is still as tactile as in her first days experimenting with clay: all her works are poured and hand-moulded in her Alexandria studio, giving each the individual character that initially made her recognisable.
Who are you and what do you do.
Milly Dent, and I’m a ceramic designer.
Where is your workspace?
My workspace is in the inner-west of Sydney – Alexandria.
What made you turn to this direction? Was this always your dream job?
No – I had never even considered that it might be possible to be a full-time ‘maker’. I hadn’t even worked with clay until uni!
How much of the week is work, how much is play?
My week is the perfect hybrid between the two. I am lucky enough to work in a creative warehouse which has lots of makers, designers and artists, all working on their own thing under one roof – it’s heaps fun, and makes work and play overlap! But I do find myself in the studio 6 days a week.
However it’s also vital for me to make plenty of time for ocean “play”…
What has been the most exciting thing you have done with your work, and what is a dream situation you’d like to find yourself in?
Everything is exciting to me. I particularly love being asked to contribute to group show exhibitions, especially with a theme or direction. And creating new and ambitious work is always what keeps me enthusiastic in the craft.
How do you define your personal style of your work?
Ohh, difficult… practical? In terms of clothing, I dress practically – it has to be cool as the studio gets hot, hot, hot, as well as being things I’m not scared to cover in clay. And my work is practical as it has function!
Where do ideas for your work come from – where do you see them next taking you?
Ideas for my work come from the world around me; things, shapes, forms I see. They also come from processes, trial and error in the studio. Through making I can explore the possibilities and limitations of the material, and often fall across the best textures, colours, and ideas to experiment with.
What’s something someone may not know about you?
I’m a pretty good whistler! And rooftops are one of my favourite places.
Anything else you would like to say or for us to know?
All my work is handmade and unique from every other piece. It’s impossible to marble the same way twice.
Milly Dent’s work can be found at http://www.millydent.com/. Follow her @millydent for in-process snaps of porcelain and dreamy photographs of the sea.
Interview – Elena Ellen