The Leach Pottery reveals its east-meets-west ethos in Shigeyoshi Ichino Memorial Exhibition

By Emily Beeson | 28 March 2013

Exhibition preview: Shigeyoshi Ichino Memorial Exhibition 1942-2011, The Leach Pottery, St Ives, until April 6 2013

a photo of a square ceramic pot on a japanese style mat
© Courtesy the Leach Pottery
A memorial exhibition of the work of Shigeyoshi Ichino, the former Leach potter who passed away in June 2011, marks the fifth anniversary of the famous Leach Pottery’s reopening.

Founded in 1920 by Shoji Hamada and Bernard Leach, the St Ives studio is today the most famous studio pottery in the UK. The Leach philosophy of fusing eastern and western traditions remains one of the enduring influences on western studio pottery.  

Ichino’s work and approach offers the perfect vehicle to explore this ethos. The exhibition includes pots from his widow, Shigeko Ichino, sent over from the Ichino family pottery in Japan.

The connection between Ichino and Leach goes back to the 1950s, when the Leaches visited the ancient pottery town of Tachqui in Japan’s Tamba district.

Shoji Hamada introduced the couple to Ichino’s father, Tanso, who imparted his knowledge of rural Japanese pottery to Janet Leach, and a friendship developed between the two families.

Shigeyoshi Ichino arrived wide-eyed in St Ives in 1969. He soon began experimenting with the traditional rustic Japanese techniques of his family to  develop a personal style that was at once his own and in the tradition of Anglo-Japanese studio ceramics.

It was a fruitful three-year apprenticeship which included travels across Europe, and on his return to the family business in Japan the combination of local materials and new skills acquired while studying abroad provided the basis for a new, distinctive work that became renowned worldwide.

Leach was the pioneer of blending different creative systems, but Ichino’s reintroduction of traditional methods of wood firing, the use of the climbing kiln and his traditional style Tamba wheel had a great influence among the Leach Pottery students of the time.

The exhibition also includes work by John Bedding and Jeff Oestriech, two potters influenced by Ichino and whose work is typical of the Leach Pottery motto, 'The Bridge Between East and West'.

  • Open 10am-5pm (11am-4pm Sunday). Admission £5.50/£4.50 (free for under-18s, joint pass for Tate St Ives, Penlee House and Hepworth Museum £14.50/£8.50). Follow the gallery on Twitter @leachpottery.
a photo of a potter at his wheel
Shigeyoshi Ichino, 1942-2011© Courtesy the Leech Pottery

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