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Cornish Ceramics

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St Ives Pottery (Bernard Leach) - from 1920
Leach Potters/Marks Background Dating Leach  

  The Leach Pottery
Higher Stennack, St Ives
TR26 2HE

The Leach Pottery Museum
Bernard Leach

Bernard Leach was born in Hong Kong in 1887 of English parents. In 1903 he studied drawing at the Slade School of Art and then studied etching at the London School of Art. In 1909, at the age of 21, he travelled to Japan where he discovered a wealth of art forms and philosophies that influenced the direction of the rest of his life.

He found that the Oriental attitude to the combination of craftsmanship and art was similar in many ways to the concepts of the Arts and Crafts movement back home. The objective of Arts and Crafts was to combine art with the excellence of craftsmanship to create objects that are both beautiful and useful. In Japan, China and Korea, the craft of making pots, as with other Eastern art forms, was highly ritualised.
Yet despite the formalisation of the technical procedures involved in producing a finished article, there is immense scope for individual creativity. "The more restrictions that apply, the more creative the mind becomes. Constraints are the threads that guide and bind the art." Therefore, the transition from fine art to pottery seemed a logical step.

Bernard Leach learned that simplicity (or the appearance of simplicity) can be more pleasing to the eye than elaborate ornateness. "Simplicity reveals, ornateness conceals".

Along with fellow pupil, Kenkichi Tomimoto, he studied pottery for several years under the potter Ogata Kenzan.

After 11 years in China and Japan, Leach returned to England with Shoji Hamada and established the St Ives Pottery in 1920.

As well as calling on Oriental culture and art for inspiration, he also turned to early English influences of the 15th and 16th centuries, typically preferring the Gothic to the Rococo.