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Milly Dent · Dango Gem and Sora Collections

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This afternoon we share a new range of ceramics from Sydney-based ceramicist Milly Dent.

Stepping away from her signature marbling and faceted work, into ‘a more refined and considered space’, these new pieces are the products of Milly’s recent three-month residency in Arita, Japan. As a result, they bare the hallmarks of Japanese artisans’ deep consideration into the experience of ceramics – from the way liquid flows from a vessel, to how it feels in hand.

24th August, 2017

Milly Dent’s newest ranges: Dango Gem Collection and Sora Collection (blue). Styling – Brigitte Gottlieb. Photo – courtesy of the ceramicist.

Pieces from the Sydney-based ceramicist’s Dango Gem Collection. Styling – Alicia Sciberras. Photo – Luke Byrne.

The range is based on Milly’s signature Gem Cup, with the colour ways inspired by ‘Hanami Dango’ Japanese sweets. Styling – Alicia Sciberras. Photo – Luke Byrne.

The Sora Collection includes the Kumo Cup, the Ame Flute and the Minamo Saucer. Styling – Brigitte Gottlieb. Photo – courtesy of the ceramicist.

Each colour variety of the Dango Gem Collection is available in a limited edition of 10. Styling – Brigitte Gottlieb. Photo – courtesy of the ceramicist.

The pieces are cast in Japanese porcelain and glazed in traditional Seiji Glaze. Styling – Alicia Sciberras. Photo – Luke Byrne.

‘It was such an incredibly productive time for me and I managed to achieve exactly what I wanted in my practice, a fresh and free perspective!’ says Milly, of her three-month Japan stay. Styling – Alicia Sciberras. Photo – Luke Byrne.

A feature piece of the range, the stemless Ame Flute, can be used for champagne, as a vase or as a sake cup. Styling – Brigitte Gottlieb. Photo – courtesy of the ceramicist.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 24th August 2017

‘I wanted to go beyond clichés, and went straight to the porcelain capital!’ – Milly Dent.

Since we first got to know Milly Dent, back in late 2014, she’s been diligently researching the origins of porcelain, its production, and its versatile functionality. Outside of material studies, she’s also been busy collaborating with some of our favourite artists including Claire Johnson, Pip Stent, Flora Waycott and Evi O to develop her practice beyond ceramics.

Most recently, however, Milly was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts to undertake an artist’s residency at Kouraku Kiln in Arita, Japan’s birthplace of porcelain. From March, she lived in old worker’s dorms in the mountainous township, and had a table in a small studio just next to the factory. ‘I ended up spending most my time inside the factory, working among the artisans there, where I was able to get a true understanding of how Japanese porcelain is used in slip casting and pressure moulding,’ Milly explains.

These new-found skills have given rise to two new collections. ‘It was such an incredibly productive time for me and I managed to achieve exactly what I wanted in my practice, a fresh and free perspective!’ she tells of her three-month Japan stay.

Milly’s Dango Gem Collection is based on her signature Gem Cup, which she began crafting three years ago. ‘The tones of this range were inspired by “Hanami Dango’ Japanese rice treats served during the Cherry Blossom season,’ she details. Each sandblasted colour variety comes in a limited edition of 10.

Meanwhile, her Sora Collection – with Kumo Cup, the Ame Flute and the Minamo Saucer – focusses on the design considerations of form, material and capacity. The pieces were designed during her first two weeks in Japan, and made thereafter by casting in Japanese porcelain and glazing in traditional Seiji Glaze. ‘With help of the local mould makers, we managed to create pristine prototypes and moulds which were crucial to achieve the sharp outcomes,’ explains the ceramicist.

Milly relays so many amazing takeaways from her time in Japan, including discovering the inspiring work of Akio Momota, and the idea that things don’t need to be large and bold to draw attention, on the contrary that smaller pieces with minimalist details can be equally as thoughtful and engaging. Her greatest revelation, by far, was coming to understand the full process of porcelain production, with Milly admitting she had no idea how the clay was made prior to the residency! ‘It is one of those materials that you only learn through doing, so the more you do it, the more you know,’ says Milly. ‘The quality control over the materials, casting, glazing and making of the work is above and beyond what I have ever known in my own studio!’

Milly Dent’s ceramics are available from her website, here, or at WIP Pop-Up Shop at Blank Space from September 2nd to 8th. She is also exhibiting a solo show of sculptural residency work at Saint Cloche Gallery from September 13th to 24th.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net