Interview with Ali Miller

Ali Miller London

In honour of our 13th birthday we wanted to get to know founder Ali Miller a little more. Find out about Ali the artist, what inspires her artwork and her favourite spots in London.


You’re an artist first and foremost, where did it all start?

I studied Fine Art and Sculpture at Brighton University over 20 years ago. I really enjoyed using a wide variety of mediums, preferring to let the idea determine how best to be expressed - whether it be through huge immersive art installations or small intimate detailed collage that draws the viewer in.

After graduating, I worked as a window display designer at Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason in London. At the same time, I started to experiment using household items such as tables, chairs and wardrobes to create unique artwork. This progressed to using my Grandmother’s unwanted china, I loved the idea of expressing my personal memories onto unloved vintage tea sets. I’ve also exhibited my artwork in galleries around the world, from London to Paris and New York to Miami.

Your designs transport people into a magical world. Where does your inspiration come from?

I grew up in London and my childhood was all about stories such as Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins, and roaming the city’s green spaces like Hampstead Heath. I was swept up in the fun and fantasy of it all – and this is what inspires me to this day. My childhood comes across in my designs, mixed in with a little quintessential British humour! Ideas of mortality, memories and domestic life are all important themes to me too. I use images from my family home and from magazines dating back to the 1960s and 70s that my father owned.

How did you discover your love of ceramics?

A defining moment for me was when I was given a wonderful opportunity to have an exhibition at John Jones – the fabulous family-run framing company. My art was heavily focused on making vintage collages on objects such as tables and chairs. I created some of these collages on plates using PVA glue – and someone suggested I fire my designs on instead. This was a turning point for me and led me to a number of wonderful opportunities.

Tell us more…

I went on to sell one-off vintage pieces at the former Paul Smith antiques store in Mayfair. My cups and saucers were used on the BBC series Sherlock – which led to a really fun global cult following of Sherlock Holmes fans! My cups and saucers were also used on Stephen Fry’s Great Britain campaign advert. I’ve had the great privilege to sell my work at Selfridges and Liberty London, and I’ve worked with the Tate and the National Portrait Gallery too – especially exciting for me given my art background.

You still live in North London - what are your favourite spots?

Having a family in London gives me a different perspective. My family and I love to explore the many parks and woods such as foraging in Hackney Marshes with John the forager and cycling the Parkland Walk - the picturesque nature reserve and wildlife trail that runs between Highgate and Finsbury Park.

Story-telling is such a huge part of my art, one of my favourite hidden gems is the Maison Assouline - a wondrous book shop in a grade II listed building in the heart of Piccadilly. I love getting lost in their books, unusual gifts and their “cabinets of curiosities” - a selection of curiosities curated by the Assouline Family on their travels.

My favourite gallery is the Gilbert and George Center in East London. Their work is playful, vibrant and unapologetic which I love. Also the building is so stylish and modern which really stands out against the backdrop of East London.