Leach Pottery 2014 – last week and final exhibition

I was always looking for horse and rider tiles. When I did find the Skinner Hotel horse and rider roof tile – it was like finding treasure. Then I found the Ayr Manor horse and rider tile – and was enchanted with the tiny figures silhouetted on the roof. Margaret Parma directed Matt and I to the third horse and rider on the roof of RJ Noall’s ancient home. Matt captured these magical figures in detail with his excellent camera. Matt also gave me Peter Smith’s email, and soon Peter became involved in the research and the speculation of who made the three horse and rider tiles on the roofs in St ives, and whether Leach actually made the horse and rider in the Cube Gallery. Peter and I are now co-writing an article, and will use Matt Tyas’s photographs. I spent my evenings emailing anyone I knew who had spent time at the Leach – asking about their memories of horse and rider tiles. Alex and I visited the Royal Cornwall Museum and Sarah Lloyd-Durrant showed us truly ancient horse and rider tiles. I visited the St Ives Archives several times, finding an image of another Leach Horse and rider that had been published in 1978 in Carol Hogben’s book, The Art of B. Leach. It turns out that both these horse and riders belonged to the same collector for many years. In the St Ives Museum, I was delighted to find and take a forbidden picture of photograph of the great BC painter, Emily Carr [her back is turned] in Julius Olsson / Algeron Talmage’s studio. She was the first British Columbian to study in St Ives.The final firing happened in the last week, the five remaining horse and riders all in one go. I was fairly terrified, worrying that it would be an egg-on-face disaster. However they survived, imperfect, but mainly intact. Matt Tyas organized an exhibition – From Across the Pond, with Warren Mackenzie, Jeff Oestreich, Glenn Lewis and myself – all of us as recent artists in residence from North America. I gave a talk about contemporary ceramics from BC, and on our research about the horse and rider tiles, attended largely by Alex lambley’s students from Falmouth University and interested local artists.

During my residency I was given assistance by Roelof Uys, the head of the standard ware studio, and potters Kat Wheeler[ USA] and Britta Wengeler [Germany] – at whose home, I enjoyed a wonderful dinner – and apprentice Tinni Arora [Delhi] , who cooked some fabulous Indian meals and showed me images of the horses of Tamil Nadu and their wonderful teeth. Twice a week Amanda Brier ran vibrant children’s classes in my studio space…..I put in earplugs. Store manager, Mark Williams, took to rubbing his hands in glee whenever I came through the shop door to poke about. Mark ended up packing up a large box for me of some of Jack Doherty’s standard ware, some new standard ware, and several choice pieces – Joanna Wason’s little facetted temoku bowl being one of my favourites. I went into the Cube Gallery often and studied Leach’s horse and rider tile and I also studied Janet Leach’s remarkable portrait – what a presence she had. Margaret Parma graciously administered us all, and Julia Twomlow was a great source for Leach and local history.

Tbones arrived in the last few days of my residence and we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary at a wonderful restaurant on Portminster Beach. New apprentices, Ian Morrison [USA] and Callum Trudgeon [ Seasalt Bursary Apprentice from St Ives] arrived during my last few days in St Ives, and Tinni organized a nice send off in an old pub by the waterfront. Alex gave us another farewell dinner, and the next morning we walked to the train station. I was sorry to leave, I hope to return, and now a year later, am happy to relive the memories.