Bernard Leach

Bernard Leach was the pre-eminent artist-potter of the last century. In both the West and in Japan his influence on the construction and growth of a studio pottery movement has been profound. Through his indefatigable writing and lecturing on the making and meaning of pottery and his tuition of some of the foremost artist-potters, as much as through his actual making of pots, Leach was at the centre of the question of how pots are valued and appreciated critically. He was deeply involved in shaping the canon of historical pottery on which much of current pottery still draws. Leach's knowledge of Oriental pottery and aesthetics, demonstrated in both his pots and books, was instrumental in placing key ideas and images of a meeting of East and West at the heart of the movement. It was an ethos of 'truth to materials' that was grounded not only in his experiences of Oriental pottery, but also in contemporary concerns of artists and sculptors who worked around him for a significant period in St Ives. Leach's advocacy for pots that could be used as part of everyday life has entered the mainstream of perceptions about his pottery. How these pots were made and for whom, reveals his social values as well as his ideas of roles within the organisation of a workshop.

Tate Gallery Publishing, London, 1997, reprinted 2003 
Japanese edition with new chapters published 2007 

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