Bernard Leach


BRITISH 1887 - 1986

Bernard Leach was born in British Hong Kong in 1887 and spent the first three years of his life in Japan. Leach attended the Slade School of Fine Art in London and his interest in Japanese culture grew – prompting him to move back in 1909 with his wife Muriel. Upon his arrival, Leach became integrated into the Shirakaba Group of artists who sought to introduce Western art to Japan, and he attended talks and meetings with the group. He first began to study ceramics in 1911 under Urano Shigekichi - the sixth generation ceramicist working in the Kenzan tradition, named for one of Japan’s greatest ceramicists, Ogata Kenzan.

Leach met fellow ceramicist Shoji Hamada in 1919, after the younger Japanese artist wrote to Leach to request an introduction after attending one of Leach’s exhibitions of ceramics. The two met and became great friends, discovering that they shared many aesthetic and philosophical values. The following year, Leach was requested to return to England and join a newly established Guild of Handicrafts as the group’s potter in St Ives. The decision was made and later in 1920 Leach and his family moved to St Ives accompanied by Hamada, where the two found a site to set up the Leach Pottery and joined the artistic colony which had been established there. Leach’s integrated style combined pre-industrial British techniques with the traditions of the Far East, as he advocated for utilitarianism and simplicity of form.

The Leach Pottery was an artistic haven for experimental and progressive potters to learn and develop their own style, under the influence of Bernard Leach, known as the “father of British studio pottery”, and his characteristic utilitarian forms and blend of Eastern and Western aesthetic and philosophies.


 Request an Auction Estimate 


Images Add file
Select fileChange Remove

Interesting Extras

  • With the assistance of Hamada, Leach constructed the first Japanese climbing kiln in the west, and the Pottery began promoting ceramics which blended the traditions, cultures, and philosophies of the East and the West.

  • Leach’s work has been incredibly influential, with potters from all over the world coming to work at Leach Pottery, such as William Marshall, Katherine Pleydell-Bouviere, Michael Cardew, as well as Leach’s second wife Janet and son David, who became manager in 1937.

  • Leach even published his own book, ‘A Potter’s Book’, in 1940, in which he defined his craft, and was published in many editions.

  • Leach Pottery also began to produce a range of Standard Ware from 1946 until 1979, which can now be found in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.



Forthcoming Auctions

DESIGN Since 1860

DESIGN Since 1860

19th Apr, 2023 10:00
Last consignment: 3rd Mar, 2023
MODERN MADE: Modern & Post-War Art, Design & Studio Ceramics

MODERN MADE: Modern & Post-War Art, Design & Studio Ceramics

28th Apr, 2023 10:00
Last consignment: 3rd Mar, 2023


Buying & Selling at Auction

Buying at Auction

At Lyon & Turnbull we want to make buying at auction, either in the saleroom or online as easy and enjoyable as possible. With both specialists and client services available across a wide range of locations so whatever your interest or query we are always on hand to help.


Here we explain the whole process of buying at auction ⇒

Selling at Auction

Holidng approximately 30 auctions per annum, we combine personal, one-to-one service with a team of internationally experienced specialists selling antiques and art at auction can be easy. Our team are on hand to assist at every stage, keeping you up-to-date throughout the process from initial valuation to settlement.


Here we take you through the process of selling at auction ⇒