lowres Workshop Fireplace 1946 PHOTO CREDIT LEACH ARCHIVE

Think craft. Think pottery. It’s a no brainer of course, but craft has come such a long way over the last hundred years. A quick glance at finger-on-the-pulse publications like Crafts Magazine demonstrates that the contemporary incarnation of craft now stretches to knitted clocks, automata, and elaborate polyamide vessels. And our culture is all the richer for it.

But always, throughout the pages of every cutting edge magazine and on show at the world’s leading craft shows, ceramics – and pottery in particular – exudes an integrity that other crafts can only dream of.

Here in St Ives we are lucky enough to have one of the most respected and influential studio potteries in the world. Over the last hundred years the Leach Pottery has forged the shape of studio pottery production in the UK and beyond, and today their newly restored studio, museum and gallery are continuing the development of Bernard Leach’s historic legacy, to the very great benefit of 21st Century British ceramics. The Leach Pottery has also played a key role in the history of our own gallery: New Craftsman was originally established by Janet Leach, wife of Bernard Leach, here at 24 Fore Street in 1962, and today these two historically important venues maintain a close working relationship. We are incredibly proud to remain the only St Ives centre stockists of the gorgeous new Leach Tableware, which continues to draw in the pottery faithful from across the world and is the catalyst for so many wonderful conversations with visitors to New Craftsman.

We are also proud to be the main contributor to the Leach Pottery’s recent campaign to bring their historic fireplace back into use, alongside everyone who has pledged funds to relight the Leach fire and put the heart back into the old pottery workshop. The fireplace, which appears in many old photographs, was where Bernard Leach would traditionally sit with his potters, students and apprentices each morning to share ‘crib’ and discuss the finer points of pottery making. As such, it is truly a place of historic importance to the development of 20th Century studio pottery. Who knows where future discussions around that same fireplace will lead us…..

The Leach Pottery fire will finally be relit as part of a celebratory gathering on Friday 24th October, and we will be there to show our support. Watch this space for news and photos from the event.

Image: Bernard Leach (second from left) at the Leach Pottery workshop fireplace 1946, photo courtesy of the Leach Archive