Friday 22 May 2009

Introducing... Sophie Milne

Current enCOUNTER exhibitor and wonderful lady Sophie Milne is the subject of this week's Introducing... feature. Based in Melbourne, Sophie's work features a distinctive colour palette of earthy brown and sky blue and we are very proud to be featuring one of COUNTER's dearest stockists.

In the meantime, do check out Sophie's blog, in particular her posts on installing Street Side - it's always lovely to hear an artist talk about their work, especially when it's done willingly!

Happy Friday everyone, enjoy your weekend.

Before embarking on a Diploma of Ceramics, you initially completed a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Literature. What prompted this move, and has your previous degree influenced you in some way?
I did my BA as soon as I left school. It was somewhat esoteric with no particular career path in mind, just general interest. After completing my studies I enrolled in a short wheel throwing course, only to fill in some time really, while deciding what I wanted to do with my life. Then I was hooked.

My studies in philosophy and literature have and will continue to influence my work because they are part of what has shaped me. As have environment, music, visual art, people I spend time with and everyday life, just to name a few.

You've written that your work fuses Japanese and Western wheel techniques, could you tell us a bit more about these techniques as well as your use of sgraffito lines? Would you consider sgraffito as your signature style?
My wheel technique is an amalgam of various methods learnt from past teachers and other ceramicists as well as personal trial and error. Sometimes I throw ‘off the hump’ which is a Japanese technique. A large amount of clay is placed on the wheel-head and only as much clay as is needed to make each individual piece is centred and thrown from the top of the lump. But unlike traditional Japanese throwing my wheel has power! In regard to technique I really just absorb all I can from any source and use and abuse different aspects for my own purposes.

I’ve never really thought about having a ‘signature’ style but my use of sgraffito lines is something with which I am comfortable. The marks I make are like a language that I have been learning and practising and am now able to use to express ideas.

The colour palette of your work tends to be towards browns and blues - is there any particular reason behind this?
A lot of my work to date has been strongly influenced by the Australian bush so the colours are often muted and earthy. More recent pieces reflect my urban environment and the colours are beginning to change.

What's the best thing you've made so far?
Gosh, that’s a tough one. A favourite at home at the moment are these bowls. (pictured below) They are quite understated: small, simple and quiet. They are really lovely to use, if I do say so myself.

What gets you in the mood to create?
A clear head, an ordered studio, the right music and a deadline!

Where were you 10 years ago...
I was establishing a ceramic studio and retail outlet in High St Northcote with two fellow ceramic graduates from Box Hill TAFE. Or to put it another way - on a very steep learning curve.

...and where do you hope to be in 10 years' time?
Healthy, happy, creating, exhibiting and still learning.

Red Ribbon Bowls

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