In my artist statement I list David Leach, Rosanjin, George Ohr, and Ken Price as my potter heroes. I picked these guys out of the hundreds of thousands of potters throughout history to express a range of styles that influence my work. I’ll start with David Leach (7 May 1911 – 15 February 2005).
I had the good fortune to meet David in 1977. I had travelled to South Devon with my friend and pottery professor, Elmer Taylor and his wife Dianne, to tour potteries. Elmer knew David from years past and two of Elmer’s former students (and my classmates), Gary and Daphne Hatcher were apprenticed to David at the time so it was a fun reunion. When we arrived, David was sitting outside his shop fluting one of his big porcelain bowls. He welcomed us warmly and allowed us to just look around the shop at leisure and was patient with me when I quizzed him about his fluting technique as he finished up the bowl. Then he invited us all into his home for tea and conversation. His was the first pottery we went to and I guess I was somewhat starstruck being in the home of the son of the great Bernard Leach. But of course he was very down to earth and made me feel at home. We stayed in Bovey Tracy a couple of days and David was a gracious host.
Over the years whenever David came to America he would always come to the Hatcher’s pottery to visit or present a workshop and they would call me to come and stay while he was there. It was during these visits that I gradually got to know David on a more personal level. He was kind, funny, and entertaining. We were sitting outside one sunny afternoon chatting when he mentioned that he didn’t remember ever seeing any of my work. I had a coffee mug in the car (an English form with glaze and brushwork inspired by Furuta Oribe) so I got it and nervously handed it to him. He of course flipped it upside down to inspect the foot, then turned it all around carefully and said, “Very good, but can you sell this sort of thing here in the states?”
David’s work has always been sort of the standard I strive for in all my pots and I am honored to have been able to call David Leach a friend. I miss him.