Milly Dent Is Taking The Cliché Out Of Porcelain

When she stumbled across the ruins of an abandoned porcelain factory in the Jingdezhen province of China, ceramic designer Milly Dent observed the way greenery had crawled through the cracks in the walls, and slowly begun to reclaim the building.

It was this idea of nature fused with craftsmanship, along with techniques and technologies known as the ‘Jingdezhen skillset’ that form the basis of Milly’s new exhibition, Wishful Thinking, opening in Sydney this week.

Sasha Gattermayr

Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Photo – Jess Thompson.

Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Photo  – Milly Dent

Photo  – Jess Thompson.

Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Photo  – Milly Dent

Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Sasha Gattermayr
12th of February 2020

Milly Dent returned from a work trip in China with one intention for her new body of work: to detach the cliché associated with porcelain. This meant deconstructing the idea of ‘permanency’, and allowing the material to break down and decay, just like the unfinished and fragmented pieces she had discovered in the abandoned porcelain factories in the Jingdezhen province.

The domed and bulging pieces that make up Milly’s new show, Wishful Thinking, evoke ‘the power of tactility and texture’, and reference ‘the complex matrices found in nature’ that served as her inspiration. Sculpted vessels are dominated by anemone-like spines, fingers of coral and bunches of seaweed droplets. Iridescent vases glimmer in the style of mother of pearl shells, and an arch of concave pale blue pellets cover a cylindrical porcelain tube. Each piece is complex and precise, designed ‘to give off a dynamic sense of something taking shape’ and almost breathing with tidal rhythms.

‘I’ve used porcelain to highlight temporality’ Milly explains. The surface finish of these pieces shifts along a subtle spectrum, from raw and unglazed porcelain, to traditional Chinese Celadon gloss glazes.  Meanwhile, an interactive component of the exhibition invites the audience to pour water over her unfired ceramics, and observe the slow process of erosion and decay that occurs. In her third solo show, Milly has attempted ‘to embrace and empower the temporary nature of the unfired material’ with this series of undulating works.

Wishful Thinking by Milly Dent
Saint Cloche

37 Macdonald Street
Paddington, NSW
12th – 23rd of February

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