Bernard Leach

Studio Potter

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Bernard Leach attended the Slade School of Fine Art and the London School of Art, where he studied etching under Frank Brangwyn. He took up pottery in 1911 and apprenticed himself to the sixth generation of Japanese potters working in the tradition of Ogata Kenzan, one of Kyoto’s master ceramicists of the Edo period. Together with Tomimoto Kenkichi, Bernard Leach earned the title of Kenzan VII, denoting the seventh generation of Kenzan potters.

In 1920 Leach returned to England, and, with his friend and fellow potter Hamada Shōji, he established the Leach Pottery in St. Ives, Cornwall, England. He is regarded as the "Father of British studio pottery"

In St Ives Bernard Leach produced ceramics in the tradition of Asian pottery, especially raku. His numerous written works included the manual A Potter’s Book (1940) and the biographies Kenzan and His Tradition (1966) and Hamada, Potter (1975).

Leach advocated simple and utilitarian forms. His ethical pots stand in opposition to what he called fine art pots, which promoted aesthetic concerns rather than function.

Bernard Leach's style and his book, A Potter's Book, had lasting influence on counter-culture and modern design in North America during the 1950s and 1960s and consequently he is regarded as the "Father of British studio pottery"

Bernard Leach continued to produce work until 1972 and never ended his passion for travelling, which made him a precursor of today's artistic globalism. He continued to write about ceramics even after losing his eyesight. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London held a major exhibition of his art in 1977. The Leach Pottery still remains open today, accompanied by a museum displaying many pieces by Leach and his students.