Saturday October 6, 2007
They offer original, handmade homewares with a conscience - and you won't find them on the high street. Victoria Brookes meets the ultimate independents.....
Why buy a mass-produced, identikit vase when you can get a handmade original for the same price? Julie Miles believes the appeal of having a unique piece of art in their homes attracts people to her work - and away from the high street. "It's satisfying to know the background of an artist and the history behind a piece," Miles says.
Inspired by landscape and nature, the 36-year-old ceramicist incorporates individual leaves and flowers into her clay, picked from her own and other people's gardens. Her pieces - delicate vases, tealight holders, vessels and decorative flowers - are available in galleries around the country, and she accepts one-off commissions via her website. "Or people bring things to me - they want their garden captured in a piece." She even preserves wedding bouquets in porcelain, though admits the responsibility can be nerve-racking.
"I'll make anything - as long as it's white," she jokes. "I don't like glaze and bright colours. Everything I do is based on nature, and I don't feel I can recreate the colours of nature in my work, so I'd rather keep it simple." Unlike many small retailers, Miles has resisted internet selling. "I wanted to control what people wanted and when I could deliver. There's only me, after all."
Miles' homes pieces - what she calls her "bread-and-butter line" - give her the freedom to work on large-scale sculptures and on community projects, and she was recently awarded an Arts Council grant to research brick as a creative material.
Extract Reproduced from Guardian Unlimited
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