Oxford Ceramics Gallery Shows 100 Years of The Leach Pottery

Oxford Ceramic Gallery Hamada

Oxford Ceramics Gallery has announced plans for its 2020 season of exhibitions, starting with 100 years of The Leach Pottery which runs until March 14th 2020.

Founded in 1920, The Leach Pottery helped shape studio ceramics as we know it today, and is a cornerstone of ceramic history. The exhibition includes over 200 works sourced
from across the globe from these masters of ceramics: Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada, Michael Cardew, Kawai Kanjiro, and Tomimoto Kenkichi; as well as antique English slipware from as far back as the 18th century. This is a show that weaves together both influence and the finished article, with something for the collector, ceramic enthusiasts and the plain curious.

Oxford Ceramics Gallery – Kenkichi 1886 – 1963 Large Plate, 1954, in signed, fitted box, with rocks and poem – iron and copper glazes Poem is by Hanshan, Taoist Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty: ‘Water flows fast like an arrow, a life of man is like a floating weed.’ Width 41.5 cms

“As far back as one goes in time, the works of humanity from prehistoric times have reached us not through stone which crumbles and wears away, or through metal which oxidizes and becomes like powder, but through slabs of pottery, the writing on which is as clear today as it was under the stiletto of the scribe who traced it.” (Bernard Leach, A Potter’s Book)

James Fordham, the creative director of Oxford Ceramics, says, “This was always going to be a significant show for the gallery, as the Leach Pottery is one of the most respected and influential potteries in the world. I wanted to mark this anniversary with a show that explored not only the work of Leach & Hamada, but that looked deeper into the influences on their work.”

Oxford Ceramics Gallery – Century Boney Pie Dish, slipware, 5.5 x 24.5 cms (left)


Many great potters studied under Leach and many more were inspired by his written work, including A Potter’s Book, published in 1940. “Bernard Leach is often called the father of British studio pottery and played a leading role in the growth of the studio pottery movement, not only as a maker but also through his writing, lecturing and training of future potters. He set up the Leach Pottery in St Ives, Cornwall in 1920, which became a magnet for potters from around the world who supported his views on
pottery and wanted to learn from him.” (David Whiting, 2019)

Oxford Ceramics Gallery Kogei Books – Bernard Leach

Over the last 18 months, James Fordham has brought together several museum-quality pieces from opposite ends of the globe, including works from the New York
collectors Nancy and Andrew Ramage, whose collection, amassed over 20 years, includes important early works from Leach and Cardew, particularly slipware. Alongside these are works from distinguished Japanese collections, including two rare works from Tomimoto Kenkichi and Kawia Kanjiro – both figures in the formation of the ‘Mingei movement.’

These are complemented by several rare books published by Yanagi in 1935 that document the folk craft movement in Japan that influenced Leach and Hamada. These were equivalent to today’s weekly magazines, but produced in small numbers, with handmade textile covers, wood block prints, and original photos of pots.


Highlights for this show include a squared plate by Tomimoto Kenkichi, 1940, in signed, fitted box, with enamel decoration, 7.5 x 28.5 x 28.5 cms; a Tomimoto dish, made in the winter of 1940, an exceptional piece rarely seen outside of museum collections; and a rare and important Leaping Salmon Vase by Bernard Leach, c1950, BL and St Ives and ‘England’ seals near base, stoneware, 28.5 x 15 cms.

Oxford Ceramics Gallery – Bernard Leach, 1887 – 1979, Charger, grass design, St Ives seal and large script mark, width 33.5 cms

Later Oxford Ceramics events in the season include exhibiting at COLLECT 2020, Somerset House 27 February – 1 March Featuring works from Peter Collingwood // Maeda Masahiro // Jim Partridge and Liz Walmsley // Rupert Spira // Vangso // Andrea Walsh: and exhibitions

Oxford Ceramics Gallery – Tomimoto Kenkichi 1886 – 1963, Squared Plate, 1940, in signed, fitted box with enamel decoration, 7.5 x 28.5 x 28.5 cms

Hans Coper & Pupils April – May (Dates TBC)
Lucie Rie // Peter Collingwood // John Ward // Ewen Henderson // Ian Godfrey … plus more:

Teabowls – A selection of tea bowls from some of the finest Japanese ceramic artists alongside examples by artists influenced by the Japanese Tea Ceremony, tradition, and techniques. (Dates TBC):

Tokyo Ceramics from Maeda Masahiro June – August (Dates TBC): and

Women Pioneers – September – October (Dates TBC)

More information from Oxford Ceramics here.

See also: Peter Harrington of London Exhibits Rare Picasso Prints, Ceramics and Books

Shaping the Past: Exploring Jewish Heritage Through The Art Of Ceramics




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