The Leach Pottery in St Ives was established by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada in 1920. One of the great figures of 20th century art, Leach played a crucial pioneering role in creating an identity for artist potters in Britain and around the world.
Today, following a restoration and rebuild project which was completed in 2008, the Leach Pottery includes the historic workshop and kilns, a dedicated museum space, contemporary gallery and shop and working production studios where the new range of Leach tableware is made by a small international team of potters and apprentices. A new education and research space is being developed on site with support from Cornwall Council and Heritage Lottery Funding.
Museum, Gallery, Artist studio or collective
March - October
Open every day
10.00 - 17.00, Sundays 11.00 - 16.00
November - February
Open Monday - Saturday
10.00 - 17.00
Last admissions to museum 30 minutes before closing
Closed 24, 25 & 26 December
Concessions: £4.00Under 18s: Free if accompanied by an adult
Production studios on site where tableware is made. This is available for sale through the shop, mail order and through other high quality outlets
Robin Welch - Six Decades of Pots
- 12 September — 22 November 2015 *on now
Robin Welch was born in 1936, and over a 60 year career has developed a considerable reputation firstly as a production potter, and latterly for his highly expressive individual pots.
He studied painting and sculpture at Penzance School of Art, studied at the Central School of Art, London and worked part-time at the Leach Pottery between 1953 and 1959. He then worked in Australia for several years before returning to England in 1965 to set up Stradbroke Pottery in Eye, Suffolk. Known for the last 30 years as a maker of bold, freely constructed studio pieces, his background as a production potter and maker of domestic ware situates his work firmly in the craft tradition, though the acknowledged influence of Turner, the St Ives School and Mark Rothko amongst others have allowed him to develop a truly individual voice in the world of contemporary ceramics.
While Bernard Leach was an undoubted influence on his early career, forward thinking teachers at the Central School of Art such as sculptor William Turnbull and ceramicist Gordon Baldwin inspired a broader perspective in Welch’s work and he began making pots developed increasingly from his drawing practice in much the same way that paintings are made. Accordingly his pots can be approached as artworks as much as ceramic forms. Welch’s individually thrown, coiled and slabbed stoneware pots are decorated with glazed and unglazed bands of varying colour and texture, and his inventive combinations of form, colour, slips and glazes make these a sophisticated collection of ceramic objects which relate closely to many aspects of both Modern art and contemporary design.
Robin Welch has designed for major companies including Wedgwood, Midwinter and Denby Pottery and his work is held in public collections in the UK, Australia and the Netherlands and at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
This exhibition will be on show in the Pottery’s entrance gallery from 12 Sept to 14 November. All pots are for sale.
- Any age
Free to exhibition only, £4.5 (£4 concessions to museum)
David Leach : Industrial Devils & Standard Ware
- 12 September 2015 — 10 January 2016 *on now
David Leach OBE, 1911-2005, was the eldest of Bernard Leach’s five children. An internationally recognised potter who played a significant role in the development of the Leach Pottery, David was an active educationalist who worked to support the Craft Potters Association and Devon Guild of Craftsmen. From the early 1930s Bernard Leach was largely absent from the Pottery and David, keen to modernise production methods and improve the Pottery’s commercial outlook, took a three year Pottery Managers’ Course in Stoke-on-Trent, a place Bernard considered the home of the ‘industrial devil’: a ‘commercial scientific graveyard’ (Emmanuel Cooper 2003).
On David’s return from Stoke, the production of earthenware was ceased, the three-chamber kiln was converted from wood to oil firing, the Pottery was extended to include mechanical equipment, and the workforce organised to ensure a steady supply of local labour with the introduction of an apprenticeship system, of which William Marshall was the first. Such developments provided the backbone for the design and production of Leach Pottery Standard Ware in around 1939. A contemporary interpretation of domestic tableware made in stoneware, Standard Ware was made available through successive catalogues and its success greatly increased production and set the Pottery on a sound financial footing in a post-War environment it was well positioned to exploit.
In 1955 David went on to establish the Lowerdown Pottery in Bovey Tracey where, for the first five years, he returned to earthenware production. David returned to making domestic and individual pots, in both stoneware and porcelain, from the 1960s onwards. Ever productive, he continued working at Lowerdown into his 90s.
This exhibition presents a visual overview of Standard Ware production alongside a fine selection of pots which illustrate its development, as well as David’s production of domestic ware and personal work at the Lowerdown Pottery. Included are examples of domestic earthenware and stoneware, alongside David’s fine personal vision of timeless stoneware and porcelain pots.
- Any age
£4.50 (£4 concessions)
Leach Pottery, Higher Stennack