In 2013 Julia Twomlow, Director of the Leach Pottery invited me, as artist in residence, to research and respond to Horse and Rider2, a ridge tile made by Bernard Leach that was on display in the Cube Gallery at the Leach Pottery. This tile had been on a roof in Carbis Bay until the early 1990. My research was greatly assisted by Peter Smith, who shared his extensive knowledge of early English ceramics, and by Matt Tyas, research fellow at the Leach Pottery, potter and photographer. Alex Lambley and I would discuss our findings, and Sarah Lloyd-Durrant, curator at the Royal Cornwall Museum was generous and helpful. The people at the wonderful St Ives Archives found images and provided other insights. At the end of the residency I gave a presentation of what we had discovered. The Leach sculpture is very rare – there is one companion piece, that we know of, Horse and Rider1, an image of which can be found in ” The Art of Bernard Leach’ 1978 Carol Hogben, p. 57. This piece remains in a private collection in Cornwall. These two sculptures were Leach’s own response to the traditional equestrian tiles that adorned the roofs of better homes in the western counties. The traditional tiles were intended to cover old smoke holes no longer in use. Leach’s Horse and Rider tiles were made of earthenware, automatically dating them to prior 1935. They were made with a modernist spirit and are very unlike the traditional equestrian tiles that can be found in museums. [See the next post.]
The research has been almost as enjoyable as the studio work of ‘responding’ to the Leach sculpture, which Julia encouraged me to respond to in my own way. Interestingly, just prior to Julia’s invitation, I had been thinking of reintroducing the horse image into my work. I will continue the theme for my solo exhibition in October 2014, at the Gallery of BC Ceramics, “Horsing Around – In the year of the Horse” – as 2014 is the Year of the Horse, it all seems synchronous.