Artist, designer and maker Alison Milner refers to herself as a Decorative Minimalist being inspired by the geometry of nature and by a simple, minimal use of materials. The relationship between nature and the man-made is a key theme in Milners work and many of her artworks illustrate landscapes, architecture, nature and wildlife.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park and its 500 acres of historic landscape have heavily influenced Milners latest exhibition, opening on 27 March in the YSP Centre. The exhibition explores our relationships between nature and the built environment through her creative use of imagery and materials.
Decorative Minimalist features a large-scale, illustrated tile mural entitled Walk in the Park. Designed exclusively for YSP, the mural consists of 160 ceramic tiles that capture the everyday life and soul of Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Yorkshires elemental weather, iconic works by Henry Moore and James Turrell, historic architecture such as Bretton Hall and the 18th century chapel, large sculptures being installed, a medley of wildlife by the lakes, and families enjoying a stroll, reinforce Milners and YSPs belief that spending time outdoors surrounded by works of art and nature is good for your mind and body.
Working in a wide range of sustainable and natural materials, Milners chosen mediums are clay, plywood, paper and vitreous enamel, all of which are represented in this new exhibition at YSP. Learning about new materials and extending processes through collaboration with other makers and manufacturers is a key part of her practice. This exhibition sees a collaborative approach with British manufacturing companies, including A.J Wells & Sons, who have an enamelling factory on the Isle of Wight, Digital Ceramic Systems, based in The Potteries in Stoke-on-Trent, and Handprint, a silkscreen print studio in Brighton.
Other works in the exhibition include My Imaginary Tile Company. This series of handmade tiles consists of unglazed porcelain, black stoneware and high-fired terracotta in earthy tones and minimalist, geometric patterns. The collection is simply made, using a deliberately limited range of tools and techniques, including rolling, hole punching and slip sgraffito. With a clean, clear and quiet aesthetic, Milner reduces, simplifies and uncovers underlying patterns.
These new works are displayed in the YSP Centre and YSP Shop, together with unique ceramic boxed collages, silkscreen prints on plywood, and bright vitreous enamel panels.
All works in the exhibition are for sale and are accompanied by new ceramic coasters and tiles, porcelain brooches, and nature-inspired posters for sale in the YSP Shop and online at ysp.org.uk/shop
Alison Milner designs and makes ceramic homeware and tiles, furniture and illustrations, from finely- decorated bowls to large-scale murals in parks and public spaces. Milner often explores the relationship between nature and the built environment through work made for domestic settings and public art projects. Her overall aim is to humanise the built environment and help people to feel a connection with the places that they live and work in a subtle and natural way. Whilst working in many different materials, her preference is for the sustainable and natural, such as clay, wood, paper, glass and enamel. Learning about new materials and extending processes through collaboration with other makers and manufacturers is a key part of her practice. Milner graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Furniture Design.
Her past clients include Habitat; Royal Doulton; Rathfinny Wine Estate, Sussex; West Dean Gardens, Sussex; Macmillan Cancer Care; West London Mental Health NHS Trust; Golders Hill Park, London; and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.