A unique collection of works by acclaimed potter John Leach has gone on display at the place he was born — the Leach Pottery. 

John Leach

The eldest grandson of Bernard Leach, the trailblazing father of British studio pottery, John (pictured above) trained under the watchful eye of his grandfather in the early 1960s.

John Leach: 65 Years A Potter provides the rare chance to see and purchase from an exclusive selection of more than 70 strong personal pieces that John has kept over the years. There are also 25 examples of the iconic kitchenware produced at his own pottery in Somerset.

John said: “It was a privilege to work with my grandfather, Bernard, at the Leach Pottery between 1960 and 1963. I am delighted to return with a retrospective exhibition of my work spanning 65 years.”

His early training was a five-year fusion, working with his father, David Leach, at Lowerdown Pottery, Colin Pearson, at Aylesford Pottery, and Ray Finch, at Winchcombe Pottery, before learning his craft in Cornwall alongside Bernard.

In 1964 he established the Muchelney Pottery in Somerset. Here, he went on to develop and produce his own range of cooking pots, serving dishes and dining ware, using local clay and wood to fuel the kiln. With sustainability and nature in mind, John even established a woodland in the mid-1980s which he nurtures to this day.

John Leach
John at work earlier in his career

Being born at the Leach Pottery in 1939, and being an ardent supporter of its survival, it is fitting that the centre is hosting this special exhibition as part of the pottery’s centennial celebrations. Established in 1920 by Bernard Leach, the pottery has throughout its history trained, supported, and brought together potters from around the world.

Libby Buckley, Leach Pottery director, said: “John has always been a massive supporter of the Leach Pottery, from the early days of saving the site and setting up the museum to taking an active interest in our potters in today’s studio. It is such a pleasure to invite John back to the Leach Pottery to be part of our centenary celebrations after so many years of his own practice. 

“To be able to exhibit John’s pots here, not only where he was born but also where he trained with his grandfather, is just a small token of our appreciation for his huge contribution to the craft. It is also a fitting continuation of the transfer of skills, spirit and ethos, that travels down through generations of Leach potters here and around the world.”

John Leach: 65 Years A Potter runs until 26th September at The Leach Pottery, Higher Stennack, St Ives. The exhibition is open in the Entrance Gallery on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in August, and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from September onwards. Drop in to see the exhibition free of charge  – waiting may be necessary at busy times – or view it as part of a museum visit which can be pre-booked at leachpottery.com/museum-visits-tours.