The Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston has enhanced its decorative arts collection with an early slipware charger by Bernard Leach, the so-called Father of British studio pottery.
Bernard Leach (1887 – 1979) fused both East and West influences in his designs; something which can be seen in some Lancashire Arts & Crafts furniture . Leach was born and raised in Hong Kong and, after studying art in London, moved to Japan, learning about the English Arts & Crafts movement alongside traditional Japanese potting techniques. In 1920, he moved back to England with a Japanese colleague, establishing a studio in St Ives which radically changed the face of British ceramics.
The charger, which was acquired with the aid of Lottery Heritage Funding, had previously been in the private collection of Leach’s son before passing to a family friend. It was purchased at an auction of contemporary ceramics on 17th May for a total price of £14,400, including buyer’s commission.
The dish, signed with the initials “B.L” and a date of 1929, has filled an important gap in the museum’s British ceramic collection, encapsulating Leach’s early philosophy of fusing East and West cultures through the unification of creativity and technical skill. He steadfastly promoted hand-crafted techniques over machine-made goods – a familiar concept to anyone with knowledge of Arts & Crafts Furniture.
Preston residents interested in Leach’s work can visit the Leach pottery school and museum in St Ives, Cornwall. For those wanting some attractive dinnerware for their antique dining table , a Preston antique dealer will have a wide selection of period pieces, without the hidden commission charges of an auction house.
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