Janet Leach


Janet Leach was one of the most gifted potters to emerge in the 1950s and her stoneware and porcelain work is known for its gestural glazing and surface markings. Janet’s preference for wood firing gave her pottery an expressive quality that owed much to Japanese tradition, but also showed an appreciation of the broader ambitions of mid-century modern American and European abstraction.


Janet was born in Texas, USA, and was brought up by devout Methodist parents. She rebelled from what she perceived as their ‘prejudices’ and attended art school, before moving to New York where she started her career as a sculptor. During the Second World War she enrolled as a welder with the Navy. Throughout her early life, Janet was constantly seeking out her own path and eventually found clay through Bernard Leach, and his writings, and then through Shoji Hamada, who she trained under in Japan. She was the first foreign woman to study pottery in Japan and only the second westerner. In the mid-1950s, Janet married Bernard Leach and moved to St Ives in Cornwall to begin her career at the Leach Pottery. Janet Leach continued to be influenced by Japanese aesthetics in her pottery and ceramics, and her work has increased in popularity. In 2006-2007 there was a major retrospective of her work at Tate St Ives.