Theatre and Arts
Following a sympathetic £1.7 million redevelopment, the internationally renowned Leach Pottery opens its doors to the public once again with a new pottery training and business incubation facility, education resources and a showcase gallery.
The recently restored Leach Pottery has opened in st Ives and was attended by The Japanese Ambassador His Excellency Mr Yoshiji Nogami, who came to Cornwall especially for the launch.
The ribbon was cut by John Leach, the eldest grandson of Bernard Leach, and Tomoo Hamada, grandson of Shoji Hamada to recall the original days of the pottery and to celebrate the restoration.
BBC Radio Cornwall's Denis Nightingale has went along to meet Jack Doherty, the chairman of the Craft Potters Association of Great Britain and the organising committee of Ceramic Art London, who has become the artist taking over at the potter's wheel today.
This is a significant coup for the pottery. Doherty's work is exhibited widely, winning gold medals at international exhibitions and his involvement with the education and training of potters includes lecturing, specialist conferences, mentoring and leading workshops in many countries.
Jack Doherty at the wheel
Jack has taken up residence in Bernard Leach’s old studio and will direct the educational and developmental work of Leach Pottery as well as creating and showcasing his own work.
Joining Doherty as Director of the Pottery is Julia Twomlow, formerly a creative industries Consultant with Perfect Moment Consultancy and Director of the Acorn Theatre in Penzance.
The Pottery’s founder, Bernard Leach, was one of the great figures of 20th Century art, playing a crucial pioneering role in developing ceramics in Britain and around the world.
Bernard Leach was born in the East and educated in the West. As he trained first as an artist in London and then as a potter in Japan he became fascinated by the two cultures that seemed so different.
His continued work and experience in Japan and Korea and the establishment of the Leach Pottery in St Ives in 1920 led to the development of his reputation as a key pioneering figure in the ceramics world. Collaborating with a young Japanese potter, Shoji Hamada, Leach built the first oriental climbing kiln in the West.
Over the course of fifty years Leach taught, wrote and trained other potters in the great art, combining Japanese and European aesthetics through his work. Today, many international links are still in existence between Leach Pottery and Japan in particular.
Although there are some notable public collections of Leach pots at the Crafts Study Centre, Farnham and the Victoria & Albert Museum, most of his work is now in private hands.
The restored drying room
Through a partnership with University College Falmouth, the new development will enable students to work alongside established craftspeople to develop their techniques, and Leach Pottery will provide a high level of skills training in a supportive atmosphere.
The transformation has been made possible as a result of funding and support from, amongst others, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, Arts Council England South West, the Rural Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Partnership, Penwith District Council, Cornwall County Council and St Ives Town Council.
The Pottery will be open to local residents for a free one-off special on Friday 7th March before fully opening to the general public on Saturday 8th March.
last updated: 19/04/2008 at 11:22