The inaugural exhibition of the Leach 100 centenary celebrations — Leach Studio Potters: 100 Years On — is to celebrate the rich creative talents of the potters who produce the iconic Leach Standard Ware.
The Leach Pottery, established in 1920, has, throughout its history, brought together potters from around the world to share and develop their skills and aesthetics.
One hundred years on, this tradition and camaraderie lives on within today’s Studio team. It is within this unique setting that ideas resonate, rebound and grow, challenging each potter to push their personal work forward.
The result is a diverse body of work, from functional ware to sculptural pieces, whose aesthetics interweave with one another and the wider Leach Pottery.
Leach Studio Potters: 100 Year On launches on Saturday, February 15, and will run until May 10. It will feature Roelof Uys (lead potter), Callum Trudgeon, Annabelle Smith, Britta James, Matthew Foster, and Laurence Eastwood.
The exhibition will be in the Leach Pottery Entrance Gallery, and all works will be for sale.
Leach Pottery curator, Dr Matthew Tyas, said: “The Leach Pottery’s creative flow is dynamic and changing, calling to the surface a long history of ideas and approaches from around the world.
“Today’s pots sometimes appear different to the old pots, yet they are still undeniably ‘Leach’, being made by a collective of individual artist-potters working and making together — a team producing Standard Ware and individuals making their best work for this show.”
Potters in ‘Leach Studio Potters: 100 years on’
Roelof Uys: “It remains a great honour to be leading such a creative and dynamic team. Looking back over the last few years, I’m reminded constantly of how far we’ve come, not just as a team, but also as individuals. Working together towards a common goal in a creative setting is one of Bernard Leach’s most enduring legacies. He wanted to bring people, cultures and ideas together, and the fact that there’s still a working pottery on this site is testament to the power of his vision.
Britta James: “There are many factors influencing the mix in the Studio: the individual potter’s backgrounds is one, as is where they find their inspiration. All these factors come together, break down, merge, and form a new substrate. Ideas and inspirations are shared and often influence work,
and, occasionally, you see an idea rippling through the Studio, morphing, changing, spreading, and echoing back. Such a rich environment means that development can happen faster than it would if I worked by myself: seeing other potters developing or working on new things encourages me to do the same.”
Matthew Foster: “Preparing for this exhibition, I reflect on how the creative process of the Studio enhances, and is enhanced, by the divergent thinking of a group of individuals trying to achieve a single objective in making our Standard Ware. In a group like this, the constant development of each individual, fully consumed by this craft, challenges the rest of us to follow suit — pushing the work of the individual and the Studio.”
Annabelle Smith: “In the Leach Studio, it is important that there are people who have apprenticed elsewhere. You can see how they reach the same goal, the ‘same’ pot, using different techniques. Everyone works in individual ways in their own practice. Following peoples’ creative process day to day helps me think differently when it comes to manipulating clay effectively for the pot I want to make.”
Callum Trudgeon: “Working in a studio environment has a huge influence on my personal work. When you have several other people to discuss your ideas with, it forces you to question your intentions and you get to learn from everyone’s successes and failures. I feel you progress much faster in this environment.”
Laurence Eastwood: “The Leach Pottery has taught me to work efficiently and swiftly because of the high volume of pots that we make. I am now capable of making a perfect pot in five to six stages. Bernard Leach set high standards, so I make every effort to mirror this in my work: only the best pots will make it into this exhibition.”
• Images Liam Alford, except Annabelle Smith — © Salt Cornwall