|It is an exciting day at Ceramic Arts Daily because we are rolling out the latest addition to our repertoire: video tips and techniques! Our first video comes all the way from ceramic artist Simon Leach in Spain. In this clip, Simon shares his technique for making rolled rims on vessel forms.
It is no surprise that Simon Leach got into ceramics since he comes from a pottery family (and a legendary one at that). He is the grandson of Bernard Leach and son of David Leach. But I will leave it to Simon to tell more about his background…Enjoy! –Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
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My grandfather Bernard, already an elderly gentleman when I was born, was quite an impressive figure within the family and I remember quite clearly one Christmas he gave me the advice “look for beauty but also usefulness in a pot.” Words I still carry with me today.
My childhood at Lowerdown Pottery (outside Bovey Tracey, Devon, England) must sound idyllic to pottery collectors and enthusiasts alike, as I was surrounded by pots of every description and also by people who were passing through either as guests or serving their apprenticeships under my father David. Many of these people still inspire and influence my work.
After school I settled for several months on the Greek island of Gavdos, where it could be said I had my first pottery. Since there was a distinct lack of kitchenware, with no finance and no shops in sight, I needed to make a wheel and kiln. Both were crafted from local wood, stone and determination and I was soon to eat off the very clay that was beneath my feet.
Returning to UK, the serious business of adulthood reared its head and I began a sharp learning curve as apprentice to my dad at Lowerdown for the next five years. From him, I learned not just to make pots but to appreciate the art and form of a pot and to criticize my own work in order to better it. For six years, after leaving the safe walls of Lowerdown, I worked as a potter near Exeter, England, having my own small studio and showroom in Silverton where I was able to gain confidence in my own work.
In 1990 I moved to Eastern Spain and continued my work in stoneware, porcelain and raku. In 2003 I moved down the road to my present premises where I have an expanding workshop and, along with my partner Catherine, manage the pottery, showroom and ceramic courses. Here time is given to experimenting with clays and glazes derived from local materials. There is a great sense of satisfaction in holding a bowl that has a glaze of carob or almond wood ash from the hillside or even a shovelful of the garden soil as it’s glaze, and along with it’s clay body, has all come from such humble origins.