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Leach Pottery is hosting an exhibition to pay homage to its first apprentice since re-opening in 2008, Callum Trudgeon, who is moving onto pastures new and transitioning into an independent potter. Callum has been with Leach Pottery for eight years, so is very much part of the core team, deeply valued and well respected. 

Callum Trudgeon

St Ives born, Callum initially trained as a furniture maker, but became the Leach Pottery’s first Leach-Seasalt apprentice in 2014. He completed his training in 2017 and became one of the pottery’s production potters, making the iconic Leach Standard Ware. Callum’s journey epitomises just what the pottery has always set out to do — train local people in craft skills — and his story is a perfect example of this tradition continuing today. 

The free exhibition, titled Callum Trudgeon: Next Chapter, showcases pots created by Callum and acts as a celebration of his time with the pottery while also marking the end of an era and his transition to becoming an independent potter. Callum’s work reflects a variety of aesthetics, from modest surfaces to the more patterned, all of which have been reduction-fired. The exhibition is running in the Leach Pottery Shop Gallery, with all exhibited works available to buy.

Callum will now be based at the Gaolyard Studios, St Ives, founded by John Bedding, who trained at the Leach Pottery during the 1970s. However, keeping his foot very much in the door, he will continue to work as a course tutor at Leach Pottery, sharing his skills with course participants.

With a passion for travel and furthering his knowledge, Callum took a year-long sabbatical in Japan and Denmark from 2018 to 2019. Following in the steps of many other Leach-trained potters, Callum spent time in Bizen, Japan, where he experimented with wood firing, burning kilns for up to nine days in a Noborigama kiln. During his time in Denmark, Callum joined the Young Artist in Residence programme at the experimental Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre.

Callum said: “I feel privileged to have trained and worked at the Leach Pottery, following in the footsteps of all the potters before me in such a prestigious establishment. When I applied for the apprenticeship all those years ago, I was reading a copy of A Potter’s Book, by Bernard Leach, that had belonged to Kenneth Quick, a Leach apprentice and potter in 1945.

“I’m not going too far, just down the hill into St Ives. I’m looking forward to focusing on my own pottery whilst also still spending time at Leach running courses and sharing my in-depth knowledge and skills with enthusiastic budding potters and hobbyists.”

Trudgeon pottery

Roelof Uys, lead potter, said:Callum was my first apprentice here at Leach Pottery. He started his training in 2014, only a year into my role as lead potter. Up to that point in my career, I had never been entrusted with the responsibility of training someone in the tradition.

“I, too, felt like a student in many ways, having never had any formal training as a potter. I could draw on my many years of practice and the knowledge passed on to me by others, many of whom were the students of potters who can trace their lineage back to Leach and his contemporaries. Callum learned the processes, the materials, and the aesthetic of our movement as I continued learning how to teach.

“Callum was an excellent apprentice and became crucial in helping develop the new Leach Standard Ware. He became an innovator and oversaw the streamlining of many processes. In the eight years I’ve known Callum, I witnessed him develop his art and find his own way of expression. I do not doubt that he will do well in his new venture, and I wish him all the best.”

Dr Matthew Tyas, curator of the Leach Pottery, added: “It’s hard to believe that Callum has been with us for eight years. During that time he’s developed considerable skills as a potter and now is working to establish himself independently. While Cornwall is in his roots, it will be interesting to reflect on how Callum’s work embodies his international perspectives: we wait with excitement to see this new body of work and wish Callum all the best for the next phase of his career.”

Founded in 1920, the Leach Pottery is considered to be one of the birthplaces of British Studio Pottery. Bernard Leach, one of the great figures of 20th century art, played a crucial pioneering role in creating an identity for artist potters across the world. At the forefront of artistic-pottery innovation for 100 years, the Leach Pottery remains a working studio in the beating heart of St Ives’ renowned artistic community, and proudly continues to be an embodiment of the pioneering nature of the artist-craftsman. 

• Callum Trudgeon: Next Chapter runs until Sunday, 8th May. Entry to the exhibition is free and all works are for sale. Find out more at leachpottery.com/