Title ID 9484Collection ID1367
Title[Bernard Leach short films]
Date[ca. 1920s]; 1966
KeywordsHandicrafts Travel
NationalEngland United Kingdom Colombia Japan
ParticipantsBernard Leach, Francine Del Pierre
Format16mm Black & White Silent
Duration19 min. 31 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


Four short films on a compilation reel showing Bernard Leach at various locations including:

  1. St. Erth in the 1930s, 2. The Leach pottery in the 1920s, 3. A trip to Colombia in 1966 and 4. Matsue in the 1920s


  1. The first film shows the River Hale near St. Erth flowing fast through the countryside on a rainy day. A thatched cottage is shown and a Shepherd is seen walking with his dog and flock of sheep in a washed out section of the film and very briefly a woman (Muriel Leach?) is seen on the same walk, wearing a fur coat.

  2. The second film shows the front of the Leach Pottery - a house with a window displaying Bernard Leach's pots and a swift view of a sign reading 'The Leach Pottery'. The camera swings around catching views of a young woman with a bobbed haircut and centre parting, wearing a smock. She hides her face behind her hands, shying from the camera. She and man with a beard and glasses play with a dog. Bernard Leach is seen coming out of the house carrying pots which he displays outside. A man mixes clay slip in a barrel. Other activity takes place outside with the camera only catching the feet and legs of those involved. People leave a house but the camera angle misses their heads. Inside, clay is prepared but again largely out of view. Clay balls are lined up for throwing and the wheel head can be seen turning. A thrown jug is briefly seen being taken off the wheel.

  3. The third film shows of a group of people walking along an airport(?) corridor, including Bernard Leach and Francine Del Pierre. The group attend a black-tie drinks party with various dignitaries.

  4. The fourth film shows Matsue in Japan, beginning with dark scenes of a wooded area followed by views of a man fishing with a large net from a boat on the lake. A Noborigama style climbing kiln is briefly shown before views of the countryside and trees. Various men in overcoats and hats chat with each other. A cliff with a road tunnel ends the film.

Contextual information

From the Leach Pottery website

Film 1: In 1921 "They found earthen ware clay near St. Erth"

Film 3: In 1966 "Leach went on lecture tours to Venezuela and Colombia, Honduras, USA and Japan. In Japan he was awarded Order of the Sacred Treasure 2nd Class. This was the highest honour given to a non national."

Film 4: In his book 'Beyond East and West: Memoirs, Portraits and Essays' Bernard Leach wrote "I did enjoy this quiet, almost silent, drinking of Tea, as I looked out over the long expanses of that lake watching the fishermen. On wet days with my shoji (paper door) open I could see the lonely fishermen, each with a peculiar net hinged on the stern of his anchored boat, which he raised and emptied again at intervals'.

Related resources


Bernard Leach biography on the VADS website

Bernard Leach, born in Hong Kong of English parents, was brought up in Japan and Singapore. In 1903, he entered the Slade School of Art under Tonks and, later, the London School of Art under Brangwyn, studying etching. In 1909 he married and settled in Tokyo as an etcher. In 1911 he discovered pottery, apprenticed himself to Ogaka Kenzan VI and soon set up a workshop, but after several successful exhibitions his pottery burnt down. Leach returned to England in 1920 and founded the St Ives Pottery in Cornwall. The potter Shoji Hamada accompanied him and, initially, they made slip-decorated earthenware, fired in a climbing kiln. Hamada left for Japan in 1923, returning in 1929 with the writer Yanagi. Amongst Leach's apprentices in the 1920s were Michael Cardew, Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie and Norah Braden; his son David Leach joined in 1930. Bernard Leach taught at Dartington Hall School, Devon from 1932 and built the Shinner's Bridge Pottery there. He shared a passion for Far Eastern ceramics with Leonard Elmhirst, the co-owner of the Dartington Estate. Leach toured Japan in the mid 1930s and, returning to England in 1935, then wrote A Potter's Book (1940). In 1941, aged 54, he resumed running the St Ives Pottery with his third wife Janet Darnell Leach (1918-97); he made individual stoneware pots for 30 years, exhibiting and lecturing widely. In 1973, when he had ceased to pot, he was made a Companion of Honour, and in 1977 and 1997 retrospective exhibitions were shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Crafts Council, respectively. Denotes included in the Crafts Study Centre Collection

Crafts Study Centre

The Crafts Study Centre is a specialist university museum open to the public as well as a research centre and home to internationally renowned collections of modern British craft.

Leach Pottery

Their objectives are to advance the education of the public in the life and work of Bernard Leach, his influence on the development of the ceramic arts and in particular studio pottery and to preserve and maintain his former house and work place at Higher Stennack, St Ives to house and display examples of his work and those of others.