Interview with Mirella Bandini, Winner of ‘Inspire 2021’ Exhibition Award.

30th November – 3rd December 2021
An ArtCan and D Contemporary Partnership

What were your thoughts after being awarded the prize early this year?

I was totally over the moon! Couldn’t quite believe that they had chosen me, with so many wonderfully talented artists to choose from! After the initial disbelief and wonder had worn off, the nerves set in and I realised that I had a lot of work to do, and that the bar was high… It was daunting and amazing and crazy and wonderful and nerve wracking, all in sharp succession. Truly a dream come true!

Your exhibition is entitled ‘Intuit’, can you share with us your vision about the show and the meaning of the title?

The exhibition comprises mainly pieces made in the last 18 months during the craziness that has been this pandemic. The pieces delve into human connections with the earth, the natural world and the universe in general. They are dream worlds and fantasies; hidden emotions and expressions of the undiscovered… It’s a fairly experimental gathering of pieces which test different materials and ways of creating, hence the title – intuition being the thread that weaves them all together…

You have presented a large selection of artworks all equally beautiful and captivating, do you have a piece to which you are most connected, and if so, why?

That is always a difficult question – each piece holds a little piece of me – sometimes sadness, often an inspired sparkle from a found object, and on the rare occasion, happiness, but they all have some narrative that started somewhere deep within. This obviously makes it difficult to choose one ‘favourite’. However, if pushed, I would probably, instinctively, go with ‘Imprisoned’. I am drawn to its somewhat stark and minimal aesthetic. It’s a simple piece and yet I feel it speaks volumes… To me anyway…

You also presented a series of paintings to complement your sculptural ensemble, how do you interact in the 2D perspective compared to your 3D work?

When I visited the gallery for the first time to get a feel for the space, I realised it wasn’t really suitable for a lot of sculptural pieces and leant itself more to wall-based works. This provided an opportunity to experiment with paint on canvas – not something I’ve ever really explored before. I must say, however, that I truly enjoyed the experience and will follow this path a little longer to see where it might lead… I enjoyed the freedom and the playfulness that the canvas allowed me – something I may have lost a little in my journey with clay. One has the tendency to get too serious about things, and as I was only exploring paint and had no preconceived ideas, it just flowed and I had fun!

You have some collaborative works on show with a colleague of yours, which is a lovely gesture from your side in sharing the spotlight, would you like to talk to us about this collaboration with Simon?

Simon Probyn is an amazing sculptor and his knowledge of steel made these collaborations both enriching and experiential. I firmly believe that the pieces that emerge from our sessions together are richer and more exciting than they would otherwise have been, and that the symbiotic nature of our relationship shines through in the pieces. Simon’s expertise with this rigid material marries well with my dynamic drawings creating evocative sculptures. It was my pleasure and privilege to ‘share the spotlight’ with him!

What does this opportunity at ArtCan and D Contemporary mean to you going into the new year and do you have any new projects coming up soon?

It’s quite daunting really, people keep asking me, “Where to from here?” To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. I’m still floating in a bubble of happiness from the show. I would like to focus on doing a few residencies as I enjoy interacting with and learning from other artists! I also have an idea for an installation that I would like to explore… Otherwise, I shall see where this journey leads me and just keep playing, experimenting, learning and having fun!

Mirella Bandini is an emerging artist working primarily in ceramics, often coupled with or inspired by found objects. She has an inherent love of rusty metal, gnarled wood and cotton thread, and these elements weave their way into her pieces. She follows an intuitive process of making – a communion between clay and the human hand, and her pieces are frequently figurative in nature with a deeply emotive quality.


D Contemporary is the company that creates and delivers art exhibitions at 23 Grafton Street for the Strategy International Group (SI). SI operates two well-established UK and international membership-based business networks comprising over 200 companies and institutions employing some 6 million.


By Rita Carta Manias