James first saw Bernard Leach’s work as a student at a local gallery, the Blackwell Arts and Crafts House in Cumbria. Leach’s work was shown as part of an exhibition of Japanese potters. The exhibition had an immediate and lasting impact on James, awakening an interest in oriental ceramics and glazes which he began to explore as a student and later during his apprenticeship.
Leach’s emphasis on the importance of form and simple spontaneous decoration are a strong influence on the way James make’s his pots. At the wheel James constantly explores familiar forms like the bottle and bowl, refining shapes which slowly develop over time. In parallel with this, James continually experiments with different glazes and glaze combinations, searching for different colours and textures to harmonize with the form.