Kat Wheeler: Exhibition

A Leach Potter in Japan

6th November 2015 to 30th March 2015

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Leach production potter Kat Wheeler exhibited a collection of new works made during her 2015 PhD research and development trip to Mashiko, Japan, where Bernard Leach’s friend and colleague Shoji Hamada established his pottery, and ultimately one of the key centres of activity for the Mingei movement, in 1930.

Kat is only the third Leach potter to be sent to work and study in Japan as part of the ongoing relationship between St Ives and the pottery town of Mashiko. As part of the twinning arrangement between the two towns, a regular exchange of letters between Kat and Masako Hamada, Director of the Shoji Hamada Mashiko Reference Museum, had been established and in January Kat was invited to attend the firing of the newly restored Shoji Hamada kiln that was extensively damaged in the 2011 Japanese earthquake.

During her ten week stay at the Hamada pottery, Kat spent time developing her own practice, working in response to her research on local Japanese processes, glazes and firings. The 200 plus pots she made in the Hamada workshop were then packed and sent to England, but unfortunately much of the work was broken during shipping. Ahead of the exhibition, Kat has been working with an Oxford-based specialist in Kintsugi - a traditional Japanese method of repairing broken ceramics using lacquer and gold leaf, and these pots restored using the Kintsugi method will be on display.

This unique collection of work celebrates the ongoing relationship between St Ives and Mashiko, and between the Leach Pottery and the Hamada family pottery, and was attended by a group of visiting school children from Mashiko and other accompanying delegates in November 2015.