Giftgivers looking for something unique, precious yet also functional, might liketo consider commissioning a piece or two from British artist/designer AliMiller. Trained in fine art and sculpture and inspired by her personal history,Miller creates intricate collages which she transfers onto a range of homewares, including a quirkily nostalgic line of china teacups, teapots, platesand cake stands.
It’s these ceramic pieces that are beginning tocause a stir among lovers of all things bespoke, with clients asking her to personalise an existing design by addingnames and special dates – she is doing a brisk trade in pieces commemoratingweddings and anniversaries (for example, Home Sweet Home UK Map teapot, with names and date added, second picture; from £90).
She has also recently added to her range, with new designs based around thechildren’s classic Alice in Wonderland. “I was fascinated by the book as a child,” Miller says, “so the theme fitted my aesthetic”(first picture – teacup and saucer, £29.50, plate, £27.50, teapot, £65, jug, £26, and sugar pot, £32; third picture, vase, £300).
Her aesthetic is of the utmost importance. Miller may enjoy working to commissionbut she is an artist, not merely a decorator of crockery. “I won’t do picturesof people’s houses,” she says.
Eachitem begins with a piece of original artwork, put together on her living-roomtable using images taken from the books, magazines, wallpaper and photographsthat filled her childhood home. Once the collage is complete, she scans itinto a computer and (along with the client, if requested) begins to selectsmall details which are printed onto transfers and then applied to thetableware. Miller sources the china for bespoke pieces from markets, charityshops and her, or her client’s, family cupboards. (Her core range is manufacturedin Stoke-on-Trent.)
“Iwork with intimate personal memory,” Miller says, “and the idea is to makeproducts that have had a life before and will go on to have a new life with anew owner.”