Bernard Leach

Born in 1887 in Hong Kong, to a well-to-do family with ties to the judicial system, as well as, the financial sector. Primarily growing up between Kyoto, Japan and Singapore, at age 10 he was sent overseas to the UK with extended family to attend a Roman Catholic school. It became clear that normal schooling was not in his best interest, and as he only excelled within the arts, he re-enrolled at the Slade School of Art in London to finish his studies. Following the death of his father in 1904, and a disheartened attempt to follow in the family footsteps within the financial sector, he relocated with his family back to Kyoto. It was there that he attended his first raku party, falling in love with the craft as a whole, kickstarting his legacy as the “Father of British studio pottery.” Raku pottery known for its low firing temperatures and porous clay, Leach was attracted to its foundational qualities, eventually mending his own painting and etching skills into his new craft. His travels across Asia exposed him to many different kinds of pottery and firing techniques that he further developed alongside his friend and business partner Shoji Hamada. Together in 1920 they founded Leach Pottery, through the St. Ives Guild of Handicrafts, a place that would soon be known for its cultural exchange of East and West techniques that have helped distinguish studio pottery as a whole even beyond the United Kingdom's borders. Leach passed away in 1979, just over 50 years after he and Hamada founded their enterprise. Its legacy as an epicenter for ceramic innovation lives on today in the form of educational courses and community engagement offered through the Bernard Leach Trust Ltd., a charity that maintains the upkeep of all opportunities offered by Leach Pottery.

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