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Bernard Leach

From Academic Kids

Bernard Leach (1887-1979) was a British studio potter.

He was born in Hong Kong, but spent his young adult years in Japan where he came into contact with a group of young, art-interested Japanese, calling themselves Shirakaba (白樺). Through them he learned about William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement. It was in Japan where Leach began potting after befriending the famous potter Shoji Hamada. With Hamada, he set up the Leach Pottery at St Ives, Cornwall in 1920. The two of them promoted pottery as a combination of Western and Eastern arts and philosophies. In their work they focused a lot on traditional Korean, Japanese and Chinese pottery, as well as traditional techniques from England and Germany, like slipware and salt glaze ware. They saw pottery as a combination of art, philosophy, design and craft, even as a lifestyle by itself. However, many people despised their pottery as crude by the standards of the day. Publishing The Potter's Book in 1940 became Leach's breakthrough to recognition.

Leach advocated making utilitarian, ethical pots over fine art pots, which neglected function. Thus, his style had a lot of influence on counter-culture and modern design in North America during the 1950s and 1960s. He aspired to running a modern cooperative workshop which created a catalog of handmade pottery for the general public. Many potters from all over the world apprenticed at the Leach Pottery, and spread Leach's style and beliefs. For example, many of his Canadian apprentices made up the vibrant pottery-scene of the Canadian Westcoast during the 1970s in Vancouver. His American apprentices include Warren MacKenzie, Byron Temple, Clary Illian and Jeff Oestrich.

Leach formally joined the Baha'i Faith in 1940. A pilgrimage to the Baha'i shrines in Haifa, Israel, during 1954 intensified his feeling that he should do more to unite the East and West by returning to the Orient to "to try more honestly to do my work there as a Baha'i and as an artist..."1

He continued to pot until 1972 and never ended his passion for travelling, which made him a precursor of today's artistic globalism. 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.

See also: Studio pottery.

Notes

  1. Robert Weinberg (Ed) (1999). Spinning the Clay into Stars, Bernard Leach and the Baha'i Faith. pp. 21 & 29. George Ronald, Oxford. ISBN 0-85398-440-9.

External links

  • Leach Pottery - [1] (http://www.leachpottery.com/English/b_leach.htm)
  • Studio Pottery - [2] (http://www.studiopottery.com/potters/leachbernard.html)ja:バーナード・リーチ
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