John Leach, one of the foremost potters working in England today, is the son of David Leach OBE and grandson of one of the founding fathers of studio ceramics Bernard Leach. John was born in Pottery Cottage at the Leach Pottery, St.Ives.
He trained first with his father David Leach (1956-62) at Bovey Tracey, had short periods with Colin Pearson and Ray Finch at Winchcombe, and finally, under the critical eyes of his grandfather, Bernard Leach.
Muchelney Pottery was set up in 1964 when John Leach's brown stoneware kitchen pots caught the spirit of the times. After seven years of potting on his own, Nick Rees joined Muchelney Pottery, and this extra pair of hands meant a switch from oil to wood firing which further added to the earthy, lustrous quality of the pots.
One of his signature pieces is the faceted bottle Vase: This is a thrown and altered bottle form, reinterpreting the press moulded bottles made by his grandfather Bernard Leach.
All of John Leach's work is wood-fired, under-glaze slip and wax-resist pattern to each side. Larch and spruce off cuts sourced from sustainable plantations have been used for firing the kiln, current thinking on conservation has focused John Leach's mind on his fuel source. He has created a woodland to replace the trees used in his firings, and he has dug a pond that stretches over an acre of land where indigenous flora and fauna are encouraged to flourish.
Pots are packed inside the kiln in such a way that they take full advantage of the rush of flames, vapour and fly ash from the fireboxes. Often pots that emerge from these firings are textured with a build up of ash that creates stunning and vibrant surfaces. People with a sympathy for studio pottery in its rawest sense, are attracted to these pots for their textured and organic qualities and find them an excellent complement for cooking as well as presenting of food on the table.
John Leach’s work is in the permanent collections of the V&A Museum, London and The Tate Gallery, St Ives.