Edgar Degas and Milly Dent were born well over a century apart, and they’re from opposite ends of the equator (France and Australia respectively). However, a new project commissioned by the NGV Design Store brings these two unlikely creatives together.
Degas (1834 – 1917) is famously known for his contribution to French Impressionism. His paintings captured everyday life, and often conveyed the conflicting lifestyles of the lower and upper classes, from ballet performances to factory work scenes.
Ceramicist Milly Dent works from a studio in Sydney’s Alexandria. Here, she creates her growing range of slip cast and press-moulded porcelain vessels using her own plaster moulds, often coloured with a distinctive marbling technique. Each piece is painstakingly sanded and fired three times before it leaves her studio.
As part of the NGV’s current Degas: A New Vision exhibition, Milly was enlisted to create a brand new series of ceramics that capture the essence of Degas’ work. Over 200 artworks are on display in this exhibition, but Milly was most inspired by ‘The Bathers’ series – Degas’ famous nude portraits of women bathing.
‘The colours and textures in this work are striking’ says Milly. Degas’ loose brushwork, and his distinctive depictions of the female nude inspired Milly’s creative direction for the range. Her wonky ceramic forms reference the curves of Degas’ bathers. ‘The curved, asymmetrical shapes I chose to explore are a reflection of the human figure, inspired by the way Degas painted his subjects in unusual positions’ she says. Also Referencing Degas use of peach and nude tones in contrast to black linework, for this series Milly worked with an almost entirely monochromatic palette, finishing each piece with a handpainted peach rim.
‘After the Bathers’ by Milly Dent for NGV Design Store coincides with the Degas: A New Vision exhibition, on display at NGV International until 18th September 2016.