SHIGEYOSHI ICHINO MEMORIAL EXHIBITION 1942 – 2011
At The Leach Pottery, 9th March to 6th April 2013
To mark the 5th anniversary of its reopening, the Leach Pottery is planning a memorial exhibition for former Leach potter, Shigeyoshi Ichino who died in June 2011. The exhibition will consist of pots sent from Japan by his widow Shigeko Ichino, and friends Jeff Oestriech and John Bedding who worked with him during his time the Leach Pottery from 1969 to 1973.
Bernard and Janet Leach were introduced to Tanso Ichino – Shigeyoshi’s father - by Shoji Hamada in the early 1950’s whilst visiting the ancient pottery town of Tachqui in the Tamba district of Japan. Janet Leach went on to study pottery for two years under Tanso and from this she formed a lasting friendship with the family. In later years Janet promised Tanso that when he was ready she would bring over his eldest son Shigeoshi (Shigey) to study English style pottery at the Leach. She fulfilled this promised when in 1969, wide eyed, Shigey arrived in St Ives, to stay for three and a half years. He adjusted well into the workshop and social life of St Ives, even joining the local darts team. He had brought with him his traditional style Tamba wheel; a beautifully made momentum wheel, and along with his tools, and alien techniques he was a continual influence on the other Leach students. He in turn learnt many decorating techniques and western styling that were not natural to his rural pottery background, and these were to stay with him throughout his career.
Shigey was also instrumental in bringing back into service the climbing kiln which had for some years been neglected in favour of a less labour intensive oil kiln. He wanted to use the last chamber for wood firing using traditional Tamba-Yaki firing techniques. This was more instruction for the Leach students and evidence of the value of what Bernard liked to call the East West exchange.
The traditional Tamba kilns of Tachquie are multi chambered naborigama and the Ichino kiln is a typical example; a seven chambered horizontal chimney rising up a steep slope like a natural form in the landscape. Fired solely by wood it takes great skill to fire, and produces ware of distinctive quality. When Shigey returned to Japan to take over the family pottery, he used the influences he had gained from his time at the Leach and his travels in Europe, and combined this with local materials and traditional Tamba techniques, to produce work that was distinctive from other Japanese potters.
Over the years he was given regular solo shows in some of the most prestigious department stores in Japan these were often sell-outs. In 1981 he exhibited with Janet Leach in London at the Amalgam Gallery and after being appointed lecturer at the National Hyogo University in 1988 he was invited to exhibit in Dundee by the city as part of the Japanese Fair.
In 1978 the circle of exchange was completed when Shigey invited John Bedding to spend a year of study at his family pottery. John and Shigey had become friends at the Leach, and had also worked together in France when John left to work with Jean Tessier. Both John and another friend and college of Shigey’s from the Leach days; the American potter Jeff Oestriech, wanted to mark the death of their friend by including work of their own as a symbolic gesture to the part of Shigey’s life that was the ethos of the Leach Pottery “The Bridge Between East and West”.