For the first time, The Leach Pottery has an exhibition dedicated by co-founder Bernard Leach’s son, Michael, who, although often overlooked, is an important part of the pottery’s story.
The exhibition, which runs until 15th April, explores Michael’s work and ideas in relation to the Leach legacy and to his own practice at Yelland Pottery, in Noth Devon. The show has been shaped in collaboration with his family and former students, whose personal stories, objects, and photographs offer a unique insight into this private and unassuming craftsman.
Michael (1913-85), younger brother of David, is best known for establishing Yelland Pottery in 1956. His interest in pottery naturally began in childhood, when he would often spend afternoons at the pottery with Shoji Hamada. After reading natural sciences at Cambridge, he returned to the Leach Pottery in the late 1930s. Interrupted by the war, he joined the Pioneer Corps and was stationed in East Africa, where he helped establish two potteries making wares for the troops.
From 1947, Michael spent time at Wrecclesham Pottery, Farnham, before assisting Agnete Hoy at Bullers Factory in Stoke-on-Trent. From 1948, he returned to St Ives to work under David and also taught at Penzance School of Art.
In 1956, Michael left the Leach Pottery to establish Yelland Pottery. Based in the heart of slipware country, and among clay pits at Fremington and Meeth, he began earthenware production before using his oil-fired kiln to make ‘durable oven-proof stoneware’. Michael continued making pots at Yelland, and training students, before retiring in 1984.
The exhibition runs in the Leach Pottery Cube Gallery and is free with general admission. Did you know if you have a TR26 postcode you can get a free Locals Pass? Other Cornwall residents can purchase a Kernow Pass at just £5 for the year. Find out more at leachpottery.com.