As part of the Leach Pottery’s centenary celebrations, five artists have received £5,750 towards the creation of four key projects. They are Steve Claydon, from Cornwall, David A Paton and Rosanna Martin (working on a collaborative piece), also from Cornwall, and Amy Hughes and Aaron Angell, both from London.

Leach Pottery
Photo: Matthew Tyas/Leach Pottery

Each will be invited to undertake a body of research, create a body of work, and present their final pieces for potential display at the Leach Pottery. Depending on the current situation with Covid 19, this could be a physical or digital exhibition.

Original plans were that this would be followed by the opportunity for the successful artists’ work to be available for selection for a joint Leach Pottery/Crafts Council exhibition in London later in the year, but these plans may be revised in light of Covid events.

The chosen artists and potters have the opportunity to help celebrate the pottery’s core values and explore how pottery and ceramics have a vital and illuminating role to play in our contemporary world.

The selection process invited responses to a creative brief from a wide range of practitioners, including potters, ceramicists, and mixed media artists interested in clay, pottery, and ceramics, with the defining feature being that all pieces of work needed to include a clay-based fired element.

Leach Pottery director, Libby Buckley, said: “We are very pleased to announce these Leach 100 commissions and are delighted to support these talented artists in their fascinating endeavours, whilst continuing the legacies of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada in fresh and exciting modern ways.

“We had some intriguing proposals and it was really difficult to narrow these down to just four, which is testament to the ingenuity, creativity, and thought that has been injected into these responses. We thoroughly enjoyed reading them and we look forward to seeing their work come into fruition.

“I would very much like to take this opportunity to thank all at Arts Council England, FEAST Cornwall, Garfield Weston, Saskawa, Art Fund, Cornwall Council and at St Ives Town Council, Andrew Mitchell and the Community Chest fund, as well as the Sylvia Waddilove Trust for providing ongoing support and encouragement for our now ‘pivoted’ Leach 100 programme. I also wish to extend that thanks to all of our volunteers, team members, customers, supporters, partners and followers.”

The artists and their projects

Stephen Claydon has exhibited extensively globally, has curated several high-profile exhibitions, and has shown with several commercial galleries in London, Milan, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, and Munich, as well as being included in the British Art Show 7.

Stephen’s current work explores the past, present, and future of the cultural identity of objects within global ceramic traditions, focusing predominantly on tiles and historical artefacts. In a similar vein to Bernard Leach, he has formed lasting professional relationships in Korea and Japan, which he is keen to develop through this commission by producing a sculpture based on the traditional architectural Shoji sliding screen. The piece will reflect on the contemporary cultural exchange between East Asia and Britain.

Rosanna Martin and David A Paton have developed a joint brief entitled Mythical Taxonomies — A Cornish Recombinant Geology, which aims to unlock the mineral energy embedded in materials, and to explore how this force relates to specific places, people, and landscapes of Cornwall.

Together, they will visit a number of sites across Cornwall chosen for their specific geology and history, and they will subsequently produce a range of kiln-fired sculptures, drawings, film, photographs, and text, exploring how humans connect and interact with the landscapes they inhabit.

Rosanna established Brickworks in 2017, a centre for education, experimentation, and creativity in clay, in Penryn. David is a lecturer in fine art, an artist-researcher, and a craftsperson with a specialism in Cornish granite.

Amy Hughes is a ceramic artist living and working in London, graduate of the School of Material, RCA 2010, and founding member of the East London multi-disciplinary art and design studio, Manifold. She has worked and exhibited internationally and has also been nominated for several major awards. 

Amy’s successful brief response proposed creating a collection of large hand-built ceramic vessels demonstrating a fresh and dynamic use of ‘brushwork’. Her commissioned piece will present an exhibition of mixed media, both two- and three-dimensional, taking audiences on a journey from concept development, material experimentation to final pieces, which will include paper studies, crafted tools, and ceramic test pieces that welcome touch, leading learning through sensory engagement. 

Aaron Angell studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. He works primarily with ceramic material and reverse-painted glass. Through his ‘radical and psychedelic’ London ceramic studio, Troy Town Art Pottery, he has sought to encourage new ways of thinking about the history of ceramics. His work is represented in the Tate, Arts Council and V&A collections.

Aaron proposes to build a ‘Firebox’ style wood-fired kiln, and to use this to produce a collection of works including large sculptures with effects prominent in works from the ceramic traditions of Japan.