“To be honest, I didn’t see that I had a career path in ceramics until it had already happened,” says Milly Dent. “I got swept up by the interest I was receiving from others for my work and before I knew it, I was going to work to make ceramics full time and couldn’t have been happier.” Milly grew up in Brisbane but moved to Sydney to study a Bachelor of Design at COFA, after experimenting - and enjoying - working with ceramics she applied for and was awarded the Artstart Grant, which helped her set up a studio and further develop her skills. A selection of Milly’s work is currently exhibiting at Saint Cloche gallery in Paddington as part of the “Art in the Boudoir” show, which ends Saturday 11 April.
Which five words best describe you? Impatient, kooky, loyal, sensitive and driven.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I was a member of a communal pottery studio, and eventually was making too many pieces to fit in the kiln. I then had to buy my own kiln and set up my personal studio. I didn’t have to risk too much to start everything off - I was working part-time and just couldn’t see any reason not to launch an online store and gauge interest. I now work five to six days in my creative space producing my current range of marbled blue and white porcelain pieces.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust your instincts but also to believe in and stand behind your own work whole-heartedly. And also to label clay and glaze so in a moment of panic you don’t mix the two! Also, the importance of keeping myself interested in the work by trying new things and playing with the material is paramount.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing my pieces in my customers’ lives, the delicious treats they are filled with and just knowing I am able to create something functional and beautiful. I am also proud of my own dedication to my practice, receiving the Artstart Grant and being featured on and in some of my favourite publications including Vogue Living’s “Top 25 Australian Designers to follow on Instagram”.
What’s been your best decision? My best decision was moving to Sydney, giving it a go, then buying a kiln, then investing all my time and energy in building something I adore, giving me the ability to enjoy what I do.
Who inspires you? My friends and my parents, and the other makers in my studio bouncing ideas back and forth to each other - creatives rule. I’m also inspired by anyone who is extremely passionate about what they do and people who try to do something to change the world for the better.
What are you passionate about? Clay, the sea, ice-cream, rooftops and respecting the world around us.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? At the moment, Gil Scott-Herron.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I want to make in different places around the world, and not to feel committed or locked into staying in one city - there is so much to see and be inspired by. I also want to be part of collaborative exhibitions and to make time to create ambitious large-scale pieces.
What are you reading? The Other Hand by Chris Cleave.
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