Bernard Leach

Bernard Leach (1887-1979) is widely regarded as the father of British studio pottery. He did so much through his pots, writings and teaching to advance the cause of this 20th century craft across the world. He came to pottery from a fine art background, having trained at the Slade School and London School of Art, where he studied etching under Frank Brangwyn. In 1920, with the assistance of Shoji Hamada, he established a pottery workshop in St Ives, where many apprentices over the next sixty years leant their craft. His ability as a draughtsman were evident in the fluid marking and decoration of his pots, which were essentially a synthesis of influences, principally from China, Japan and Korea on the one hand, and early British earthenware and stoneware on the other.

Leach’s pots generally became increasingly assured over the years, the language of form and marking more economic and concentrated in later life. If he concentrated more on individual pieces, with later assistance from his foreman William Marshall, the well designed Leach 'Standard-ware' made at St Ives aimed to produce inexpensive tablewares for everyday use, and influenced functional pottery internationally.


David Whiting