The Norma E. Bubier Memorial Collection

The Norma E. Bubier Memorial Collection

Pottery in the Leach-Cardew Tradition at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, donated by Dr Richard H. ‘Harry’ Bradshaw in memory of his wife Dr Norma E.Bubier.

The potters in this collection have a shared heritage with most of themhaving spent time either at the Leach Pottery, St Ives, Cornwall or with Bernard Leach’s first pupil, Michael Cardew. The collection emphasises the work of Clive Bowen and Richard Batterham, exemplars of the ‘slipware’ and ‘stoneware’ traditions respectively. The work in the collection embodies Leach’s vision of potsthat are handmade, functional and aesthetically satisfying while illustrating theirown individual interpretations of Eastern and Western potting traditions.

Trevor Corser     1938 – 2015

Trevor Corser joined the Leach Pottery in 1966 as a packer and general assistant, and soon became a trainee, learning the craft from Bernard Leach and Bill Marshall. He went on to be one of the principal production throwers, remaining at the Leach Pottery for 40 years and mentoring many of the young trainees. Alongside the standard ware, he made individual pots in the Leach tradition, some with the distinctive blue glaze shown in this collection.

He showed work in Oldham, where he was born, at the 2013 Leach exhibition in Mashiko, Japan and in St Ives. At the time of his death, the Leach Pottery was preparing an exhibition entitled Trevor Corser: 40 years a Leach Potter, which was held in St Ives.

Sylvia Hardaker

Sylvia Hardaker was invited to join the Leach Pottery as a student, and was there from 1966-68. In 1968 she set up  Kenilworth Pottery, Warwickshire, making domestic stoneware. In 1983 she returned to Penzance, Cornwall.

Ray Finch    1914 -2012

Ray Finch studied ceramics with Dora Billington at the Central School of Art and Design, and joined Michael Cardew at Winchcombe in 1936, taking over the pottery in 1939. Restarting the pottery in 1946 with Sidney Tustin, who had worked there with Cardew, he ran it until 1979 and continued as a maker well into his 90s. Many well-known potters spent time at Winchcombe as apprentices under his direction, including Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Colin Pearson, John Leach and Jim Malone.

Ray Finch and Winchcombe are known for restrained and well-crafted thrown stoneware with tenmoku and ash glazes. His individual pieces are held in many collections. The woodfired kiln he built in 1974 is still in use. His son, Mike Finch, ran the pottery from 1979 – 2011. Another son, Joe Finch, is also a potter and kiln-builder.

Philip  Leach  b.1947

Philip Leach is the son of Michael Leach, Bernard’s second son, and was born at Alton, Hampshire. As a child he lived next door to the Leach Pottery in St Ives and was taught to throw by his father at the age of 14,  but he only became a potter at the age of 29.

After several years in Iran, and a period working for Clive Bowen, in 1979 Philip and his wife Frannie established Springfield Pottery in Hartland, North Devon, where they specialised in slipware, following in the North Devon tradition. Other work relates to Persian ceramics and his travels in Iran.

The pottery closed in 2020, after 40 years in production.

Clive Bowen     b. 1943

Clive Bowen studied painting and etching at Cardiff College of art, and spent several years as an apprentice with Michael Leach at Yelland Pottery. In 1971 he set up his workshop in Shebbear, Devon, where he built a circular wood firing kiln based on Michael Cardew’s at Wenford Bridge.

Working with local Fremington clay, a dark-firing earthenware clay also used by the Fishleys, he makes thrown and press moulded domestic ware and large jars and platters. He is renowned for the lively character of his slip decoration – trailed, combed, splattered and swiped in contemporary iterations of a traditional style with roots in English slipware. He is exhibited and collected worldwide.

Jeff Oestreich     b. 1947

Jeff Oestreich was introduced to ceramics by Warren MacKenzie (Leach Pottery 1949-52) while studying art at Minnesota University. He then spent 2 years as an apprentice at the Leach Pottery, returning in 1971 to Minnesota, where he is still based. He has travelled widely, teaching and exhibiting in USA and abroad.

His work reflects early influences of Japanese and Korean pots and above all a lifelong love of Art Deco; functional pottery, thrown and altered, with geometric designs, often salt or soda fired. Examples can be found in many museum collections including the V&A and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. In 2014 and 2016 he returned to the Leach Pottery for residencies and exhibitions.

Nic Harrison    b. 1949

Nic Harrison moved to Cornwall in 1975 with his wife Jackie, a weaver. After a ceramics course at Cornwall College, he trained at the Leach Pottery under Janet Leach and was the last student to work as part of the production team. In 1981, he established Trelowarren Pottery, with his wife’s weaving studio, near Helston, Cornwall. Nic’s present studio is at Penhale Jakes near He. Using a local stoneware clay, he produces new collections of work for exhibition and an extensive range of oven-to-table kitchenware. Originally he worked on a Leach kick wheel, which he built in 1976 and still uses occasionally; he now mainly uses an electric wheel. In the true Leach tradition of following through ‘the whole process’, Nic designed and built his 27 cu ft kiln which is fired with propane gas in reduction to 1320°c. He also makes his own pottery tools.

The hand thrown forms show Japanese and Medieval English influences; rich, black to rust Tenmoku glaze on the large individual pitchers and bottles, enhanced by firing to a very high temperature and quiet celadon and Ying Ching glazes on carved and textured yunomi.

Joanna Wason

Joanna Wason grew up in North Devon, studied at Exeter and Liverpool art schools in the1970s and worked as a sculptor. She joined the Leach Pottery to work for Janet Leach in 1988, mixing her clays and glazes, making saggars for her smoke firings and acting as her general workshop assistant until Janet died in 1997. Joanna continued making pots in the old workshop, until it closed for renovation to become the Leach Pottery Museum. Now she has a caravan workshop at home.

She makes a wide variety of work: thrown and slab built pots, some of which relate to the 400 year old tradition of North Devon slipware, and figurative sculptures originally inspired by Mycenaean figures. Porcelain is glazed with iron, white or ash glaze and stoneware with iron or ash. These pots are reduction fired to 1280c in a gas kiln.

Amanda Brier    b. 1978

Amanda Brier studied Studio Ceramics at Falmouth University,  graduating in 2000.  Shortly afterwards,  she started work at the Leach Pottery working in the original pottery with Trevor Corser and Joanna Wason.

“I have always been interested in the work of Bernard Leach and others working in this tradition, and as I started to learn skills and techniques that had been passed through the pottery for many years, my work began to resemble more and more characteristics of Leach pots. We used a similar clay body and some of the same glaze recipes that had been used in the pottery for over 80 years. I felt privileged to be working in such a historic place. It was an experience I look back on with delight, a most valued start to my career as a studio potter”.

Amanda make domestic stoneware and still works at the Leach Pottery, currently part time as a Learning and Participation Officer. She has exhibited work at many shows and galleries in the UK, the United States and Japan.

John Bedding   b. 1947

John Bedding joined the Leach Pottery as an apprentice in 1968, continuing as a permanent staff member until 1979, when he went to work at the Ichino pottery in Japan. The traditional oriental techniques he learned at Tachiqui proved a valuable and profound influence on his work.

In 1990 John opened St Ives Ceramics which houses, a highly respected collection of contemporary work, including his own. In 1994 he was invited to exhibit at Tate St Ives. He was also a founding member of the rescue group that restored the Leach Pottery and served as a trustee for the charity until 2013, for which he received the Michael Casson Memorial Award for ‘Services to the Community of Studio Potters’.

In 2013 John was made Honorary Lead Potter at the Leach Pottery, working alongside the studio team to develop a new range of functional pottery for the 21st century. In 2017 he became an Honorary Potter – acknowledging his longstanding commitment to the Leach Pottery.

Derek Emms   1929 – 2004

Derek Emms studied pottery at Burnley school of art, where Frank Hamer was a fellow student. He trained as a teacher and spent a year at the Leach Pottery, refining his throwing skills. In 1955 he took up a full time lecturer post at Longton School of Art, where he established a course for studio potters in accordance with Leach’s ideas of form and function. Among his students were Geoffrey Swindell, Paul Astbury and David and Margaret Frith. On retirement in 1985, Emms became a full time potter.

He is best known for finely thrown domestic ware in porcelain. An early member of the Craft (formerly Craftsmen( Potters Association, he regularly showe d work in their gallery.

The teapot in this collection is typical of his work.

William Klock    1933 – 2017

After military service in the navy, Bill Klock went to teachers college and taught art and design at a high school in New York State. In 1967 he was appointed Professor of fine arts at Plattsburgh state university, setting up a ceramics department where he remained for 25 years. In 1975 he spent a year’s sabbatical in St Ives and was a regular visitor to the Leach Pottery, working alongside Trevor Corser, John Bedding and Bill Marshall. A further sabbatical in 1989 was spent at a pottery in Korea. After retirement, he and his wife made an annual visit to St Ives. The example of his work in this collection was purchased in St Ives in 2004, at an exhibition in support of saving the Leach Pottery.

Richard Batterham    b.  1936

Richard Batterham was taught pottery at school, where his teacher was Donald Potter, a student of Eric Gill. In 1959, after two years at the Leach Pottery, he set up his workshop at home in Durweston, Dorset. Working alone, using the most basic materials and equipment, he has spent a lifetime exploring the limitless subtle possibilities of ash-glazed domestic stoneware, ‘things to hold, not to gawp at’. His work is widely acclaimed and collected. His attitude to pot-making is best expressed in his own words.

“I was soon made aware, sometimes very abruptly, of the diversity and wide variety of each of the simple raw materials I wished to use, and that we should have to play and work together. For example; the ash from each tree, even from two of the same species, will vary according to its location, and must be explored, and a choice made from what is offered. As in all the making and firing, preconceptions must be forgotten, and an open mind be kept, able to receive the good unknown qualities which will appear. One must not dictate, but listen, observe and respond.”