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 Milner’s 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 Milner’s 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. Yorkshire’s 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 Milner’s and YSP’s 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, Milner’s 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.