Bonhams to Host Auction in Support of the Leach Pottery Restoration Project in St Ives

Bonhams will host a charity auction on 26 February 2008 in support of the Leach Pottery Restoration Project, which aims to restore the famous studio of Bernard Leach and open it to the public. The auction will be held at Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street, London, with a reception starting at 5:30pm before the auction commences at 6:30pm.

Lady Carol Holland who chairs the Restoration Project says that the charity auction will present the work of more than 100 studio potters and ceramic artists who have donated work to support the fund. A special edition of the catalogue will be available to purchase at Bonhams with all proceeds going to the restoration project. The lots will be on view on Monday 25th February 2008 from 9am until 4:30pm and again on Tuesday 26th February 2008 from 9am until 4:30pm.

Bonhams Head of Contemporary Ceramics Marijke Jones who has worked to bring together the works for auction says: “This will be an opportunity to buy some outstanding work in support of a vital project to protect and maintain a key part of Britain’s ceramic history – the studio of Bernard Leach which has undisputedly shaped the field and may now continue to do so.”

The Leach Pottery Restoration Project will see the studio undergo a major capital development by the local authority, Penrith District Council. This involves the removal of asbestos, which was extensively used for insulation and weather protection. A new annexe is being added to the studio and the banks of the stream that runs by the property will be reinforced to protect the buildings.

An exhibition that celebrates Bernard Leach’s life and work is being prepared for show onsite by Emmanuel Cooper, Leach’s biographer.

Accredited as the father of the studio ceramic tradition, Bernard Leach is one of the biggest international names of the 20th Century in the field of ceramics.

Born in Hong Kong, where he remained until the age of 10, Leach began his artistic training studying drawing at the Slade in London. In 1909 he travelled to Japan to work as an etcher. However, an invite to a Raku party in 1911 was to be an inspirational introduction to the art of ceramic craft and from this point on he pursued a career as a potter. Having worked intensively with some of the leading figures of the Japanese Mingei movement, Leach returned to England in 1920 to establish the Leach Pottery at St Ives, where they built the first climbing kiln in Europe. Leach returned to Japan many times where his work achieved much greater critical success than he enjoyed in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s. However, in the post war period his pots, together with his teachings at the pottery and his writings, established the influence of his philosophy that has been so enduring. His innovations in design and decoration are still widely imitated today.

Leach was an early convert to the Bhai faith and led a complicated private life. He has written widely on many subjects besides ceramics.