Monday, September 29, 2008

Sophie Milne

Sophie Milne, Melbourne, Australia

1. How would you describe your style?

Organic, minimal, earthy, quiet…

2. You wrote about a very interesting topic on your blog last week - balancing a creative life with motherhood.

"The thing that really stood out for me was when Helen Bodycomb (an amazingly talented mosaic artist from Melbourne) responded to a query about being "taken seriously as an artist, and not just a community craftsperson" by stating that "if you are straddling that high art/craft divide you conceal the fact that you've got a baby." This statement horrified me but also rang true. I do find in certain situations I will consciously not promote the fact that I have a child. But I am very proud that my personal identity is defined in two parts -artist and mother. "

I'm sure there are a number of Heart Handmade readers out there that can relate to this issue, and like you, will be comforted to know that they're not alone on this one. Can you share your personal experience and discuss some of the situations where you found yourself conflicted on whether or not to openly share the fact that you were a mother as well as an artist.

There have not been specific situations where I have hidden the fact that I am a mother but in general I feel that there is a struggle to be taken seriously as a ‘professional’ when you are working in the crafts. To also have to prove yourself as a ‘working mother’ makes this struggle twofold. This is not something that I consciously confront daily but I am becoming more aware of these issues as my career progresses.

3. If I were to ask Finn what his mother did for a living, what would his answer be?

Hang on a minute I’ll ask him – “you make pots of course!”

4. If you could put your products on the shelves of any 3 stores, which ones would you choose?

I have no burning ambition to be in any stores in particular. I have a fairly haphazard approach to selecting resellers- if I have the time to make the work when they approach me then I do it!

5. Congratulations on your upcoming solo exhibition (non-functional pottery)! What advice could you give aspiring artists on the best way to get noticed and invited to be part of a gallery exhibition/show?

As someone who also manages a gallery I would suggest talking directly to gallery managers, show initiative with group show ideas of your own and don’t underestimate you own network of creative friends and craft organizations. Galleries want to see motivation, passion and hard work as well as well thought out ideas and talent.

6. You helped put together a show at Pan Gallery which featured a collection of ceramic items by a random selection of people asked to exhibit their most valuable ceramic item (the definition of value was left to the interpretation of the individual). What's your most valuable ceramic item? And why?

These two quolls were made by Melbourne ceramic artist Katie Jacobs and they were exhibited as part of our first show at Pan Gallery. The owners of the gallery give them to me as a thank you gift so they are very special to me. I love that they immortalize a rare Australian animal and their color and spots are beautiful. Katie is a gorgeous person and I am very taken with the flights of fancy in her work.

7. How has your experience been with Design Market and other similar markets? Would you recommend participating in these types of events?

It is definitely worthwhile taking part in these types of events when you are starting out. Not only do you receive direct feedback from customers, you also have the opportunity to meet other artists and crafts people and can make valuable associations and friends. There is also the added bonus of receiving the full retail price for your pieces! I do less of these now mostly because I don’t like giving up my weekends but also as I am starting to ask more for my pieces sales are not great in these circumstances – context is everything!!

8. What was it that made you want to start creating? Do you feel like you were born with a desire to create or did something trigger it?

If I am to be perfectly honest with you it is because I didn’t know what else to do! I came out of university with a degree in philosophy and literature and absolutely no sense of direction. I was surrounded by musicians and others with great passions and felt very lost. It was only when I did a short course in ceramics that I discovered a language that sat right with me. The more I speak this language the more fluent I become and the greater my ability to express my true self. It’s a wonderful journey.

Thank you Sophie!!


Melissa de la Fuente said...

Sophie's work is beautiful, her little boy is adorable and no worries, Sophie...I put my elbows on the table too!

Anonymous said...

Wow, these items are SO beautiful!

Amy (the b-line) said...

Beautiful, beautiful! And a lovely interview!