Saturday, May 1, 2010

Janet Leach: Her life and work

The current exhibition in the cube at the Leach Pottery in St Ives features Janet Leach.
This retrospective on the life and work of Janet Leach is curated by her long term friend and assistant Joanna Wason
Janet arrived at the Leach Pottery in 1956 and managed the daily running of the workshop.
During her time at the pottery she also made her own extraordinary pots, the results of many experiments with different clay bodies, working methods and firing techniques. The lack of trees in the area were lamented as she liked the wood-firing process.

Shown left is part of a stunning group of Janet's stoneware vessels from the 1970's. Gas fired in saggars, wrapped around with seaweed, wood and charcoal. (Private Collection) The variation in colour and surface texture achieved in these pots belies the simple elegance of the forms themselves.
Her interest in texture can also be seen in the surface treatment of this stoneware dish which incorporates stone and ash glaze with black and white glaze pours. (Crafts Study Centre)
This bottle is one of a number of examples on display of Janet's work with grogged porcelain. It has a pale, almost transparent, body glaze and dark glaze pour. (V Manussis collection)

This large pot, circa 1975, is a superb example of her later work. In red stoneware with a white glaze pour it is beautifully proportioned and strikingly modern with its dramatic decoration of poured white glaze.
The final shelf of pots in the exhibition houses a group of seven, relatively small, slab-built pots in black stoneware with white pour glaze. These are the last pots that Janet completed and make a fitting statement as to the level of sophistication that she attained in her work.

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