Leach Pottery 100 Commissions announced

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of St Ives’ iconic Leach Pottery. To celebrate this milestone, as part of Leach 100, a year-long programme of activity from Cornwall, the artistic institution has announced the key commissioning of five talented, emerging artists.

Following a rigorous selection process conducted by FEAST Cornwall, the artists will receive £5,750 towards the creation of four key projects. They are Steve Claydon from St Just, Cornwall, David A. Paton (pictured below) & Rosanna Martin (working on a collaborative piece), also from Cornwall, and Amy Hughes and Aaron Angell, both from London.

Each will be invited to undertake a body of research, create a body of work and present their final pieces for potential display at the Leach Pottery. Depending on the current situation with Covid 19 this could be a physical or digital exhibition. Original plans were that this would be followed by the opportunity for the successful artists’ work to be available for selection for a joint Leach Pottery/Crafts Council exhibition in London later in the year but these plans may be revised in light of Covid events.

In 1920, Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada collaborated to establish a pottery studio that forged new connections across countries and traditions, broke fresh ground and repositioned the importance of pottery in our culture. A century later, their vision is still going strong and the values and passion the two men brought to the art form remain at the heart of the still producing Leach Pottery today.

It is in this spirit that the Leach Pottery team has commissioned these new works, offering the chosen artists and potters the opportunity to help celebrate these values and explore how pottery and ceramics have a vital and illuminating role to play in our contemporary world. The selection process invited responses to a creative brief from a wide range of practitioners, including potters, ceramicists and mixed media artists interested in clay, pottery, and ceramics with the defining feature being that all pieces of work needed to include a clay-based fired element.

Stephen Claydon (pictured above) has exhibited extensively globally, he has curated several high-profile exhibitions and has shown with several commercial galleries in London, Milan, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Munich as well as being included in the British Art Show 7.

Stephen’s current work explores the past, present and future of the cultural identity of objects within global ceramic traditions, focussing predominantly on tiles and historical artefacts. In a similar vein to Bernard Leach, he has formed lasting professional relationships in Korea and Japan which he is keen to develop through this commission by producing a sculpture based on the traditional architectural Shoji sliding screen. The piece will reflect on the contemporary cultural exchange between East Asia and Britain.

Rosanna Martin and David A. Paton, both based in Cornwall have developed a joint brief entitled Mythical Taxonomies – A Cornish Recombinant Geology which aims to unlock the mineral energy embedded in materials, and to explore how this force relates to specific places, people and landscapes of Cornwall. Together they will visit a number of sites across Cornwall chosen for their specific geology and history and they will subsequently produce a range of kiln fired sculptures, drawings, film, photographs and text, exploring how humans connect and interact with the landscapes they inhabit.

Rosanna established Brickworks in 2017, a centre for education, experimentation and creativity in clay, in Penryn, near Falmouth. Brickworks provides the space and facilities for those wishing to engage in making with clay for the first time, to those pursuing professional careers as artists and makers. David is a lecturer in fine art, an artist-researcher and a craftsperson with a specialism in Cornish granite. He was brought up surrounded by his father’s quarries in remote locations on the east and west coasts of Africa. This early experience was to profoundly influence the trajectory of his work and bound him to a life-long exploration of the geologic.

Amy Hughes is a ceramic artist living and working in London, graduate of the School of Material, RCA 2010 and founding member of the East London multi-disciplinary art and design studio, Manifold. She has worked and exhibited internationally and has also been nominated for several major awards, including in 2016, being selected for the prestigious Perrier-Jouet Arts Salon Prize by Barney Hare Duke. Her work is shown at several London galleries and is held in private collections.

Amy’s successful brief response proposed creating a collection of large hand-built ceramic vessels demonstrating a fresh and dynamic use of ‘brushwork’. Her commissioned piece will present an exhibition of mixed media, both 2D and 3D, taking audiences on a journey from concept development, material experimentation to final pieces, which will include paper studies, crafted tools and ceramic test pieces that welcome touch, leading learning through sensory engagement.

Artist Aaron Angell studied at the Slade School of Fine Art. He works primarily with ceramic material and reverse-painted glass. Through his ‘radical and psychedelic’ London ceramic studio, Troy Town Art Pottery, he has sought to encourage new ways of thinking about the history of ceramics. Through his teaching, and the hosting of scores of free artist residencies at Troy Town, Aaron has been deeply influential on a number of other artists working with ceramics today. His work is represented in the Tate, Arts Council and V&A collections.

Aaron proposes to build a ‘Firebox’ style woodfired kiln, and to use this to produce a collection of works including large sculptures with effects prominent in works from the ceramic traditions of Japan.

Libby Buckley, director at Leach Pottery said, “Since the 1920s, the Leach Pottery has championed the creative development of potters. Developing this legacy, Leach 100 supports practitioners working in clay through a range of commissions. I would very much like to take this opportunity to thank all at Arts Council England, FEAST Cornwall, Garfield Weston, Saskawa, Art Fund, Cornwall Council and at St Ives Town Council, Andrew Mitchell and the Community Chest fund as well as the Sylvia Waddilove Trust for providing ongoing support and encouragement for our now ‘pivoted’ Leach 100 programme. I also wish to extend that thanks to all of our volunteers, team members, customers, supporters, partners and followers.”

At the forefront of artistic-pottery innovation for 100 years, the Leach Pottery is a vital historical site founded by two key figures of 20th century studio pottery, Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. A working studio in the beating heart of St Ives’ renowned artistic community, the Leach Pottery continues to be an embodiment of the pioneering nature of the artist-craftsman.