The Leach Studio
The Leach Pottery’s new studio was built in 2008 and now boasts a highly skilled team including; Roelof Uys, Lead Potter, skilled production potters, Kat Wheeler, Britta James, Callum Trudgeon, Laurence Eastwood and Matt Foster who all make our new standard ware range. The team is assisted by our current apprentice Annabelle Smith.
If you are interested in any aspect of the studio's work please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leach Production Team
Roelof Uys (South Africa)
Roelof Uys studied art at East London Technical College in South Africa. He founded his first ceramics studio in Limpopo province in 1992, where he collaborated with potter Solomon Matatoko. He went on to work in Kynsna as a resident potter at Bitou Crafts, founded by Clementina van der Walt. Roelof then started his own production pottery in Cape Town, where he served on the committee of the Western Cape Potters Association.
Roelof moved to the UK in 1998, where he worked as a studio potter in the Gaolyard Studios, St Ives. He took up his role as Lead Potter at the Leach Pottery in 2013. As the Lead Potter, Roelof oversees the design and production of the new Leach Standard Ware and supervises the training of apprentices and volunteers in the workshop.
‘It was a great honour to be offered the roll of Lead Potter here at the Leach. I hope to continue working in a tradition that has influenced and inspired so many artists from all over the world. I am always mindful that I stand on the shoulders of giants.’
Kat Wheeler (USA)
Kat Wheeler studied ceramics at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville, Tennessee. She completed a semester study abroad at the Australia National University in 2007, before earning her B.F.A. in Ceramics in 2008. While studying, Kat worked part time for established studio potters Judy Brater and Peter Rose. Peter became a significant mentor to Kat, encouraging her to pursue opportunities to travel and work. She learned valuable studio practice and production techniques while maintaining the workshop and helping fire Peter’s two chambered wood kiln.
Kat moved to St Ives to work at the Leach Pottery in 2009, where she currently holds the position of Deputy Studio Manager. In 2015, Kat went to Mashiko and did a 10 week residency at the Hamada Workshop. Her experimentations with Hakeme brush decorations in Mashiko became a catalyst for her recent work here in St Ives.
While continuing to work at the Leach Pottery, Kat has taken on a workshop for the development and production of her own work in the Gaolyard Studios, St Ives.
"Working production in such an intensive environment as the Leach Pottery and being surrounded and encouraged by the enthusiasm of our talented workshop team has had a profound impact on me and my work. I enjoy the repetition of throwing simple forms and using contrasting slips to create texture and individuality to my range of pots."
Britta James (Germany)
Trained in Germany, Britta followed an old German craft tradition of travelling to various potteries for three years and a day to work and learn. She used this time to deepen her skills and learn about different cultural aspects of ceramics. Britta worked for potters in Germany, France, New Zealand and England, where she first worked for the Leach Pottery in 2010/2011. Britta was particularly influenced by her time with New Zealand potter, Petra Mayboden, learning about wood firing and various decoration techniques.
In 2012, Britta returned to the Leach pottery to became a permanent member of the production team. She continues to produce a wide range of well crafted, wheel-thrown kitchen and table ware. Britta decorates the pots while the clay is still soft to add depth to the surface. For the decoration, she uses a number of techniques, such as stamping with various roulettes, impressing with pieces of wood, cutting, adding clay or otherwise deforming the pot.
The pieces are glazed in celadon, shino, blue and copper red, then fired to 1300°C in reduction. These glazes vary in colour from thick to thin, further enhancing the surface decoration of the pots. Influenced by her journey, Britta’s pots are luscious and playful but deeply rooted in the formal language of traditional European pottery.
Laurence Eastwood (UK)
Laurence Eastwood comes from Upwey, a small village in Dorset. He first started working with clay at the age of eleven and later began throwing on the wheel at a weekly evening class. Laurence was asked to join the Upwey Potters Group alongside five local potters, where he learned the values of being a potter and doing a craft.
When Laurence was 14, he was experimenting with woodworking, casting, and any other materials that he could get his hands on. He went on to do some ornamental plastering work part-time while studying art at a local college. After a couple years, Laurence decided to get back into pottery and started teaching and attending markets with his work.
Laurence started working at the Leach Pottery as a volunteer in 2015. After a year, he joined the team as one of our production potters. Alongside his work on the Leach Standard Ware, Laurence continues to work on his own range of work. ‘Pots are not complete unless they are used and loved by the buyers on a regular basis. I enjoy using my pots after they are made just as much as I like making them.’
Callum Trudgeon (UK)
Raised in Cornwall, Callum Trudgeon studied traditional furniture making and design at Cornwall College. He joined the Leach Pottery in 2014 as the first recipient of the Leach Seasalt Bursary. This bursary provides the Leach Pottery with funding to train apprentices with little or no experience in ceramics. The apprenticeship gave Callum the chance to learn about all aspects of production pottery by working as a part of the skilled production team at the Leach.
Callum finished his three year apprenticeship in 2017 and has stayed on as the first production potter fully trained at the Leach Pottery since it’s re-opening in 2008. While working part time for the Leach, Callum produces a range of his own work. ‘My work mainly consists of wheel thrown functional items for everyday use. I like to produce pots that are simple and quickly made with the intention of selling them at affordable prices.’
Matt Foster (UK)
Matt Foster studied fine art at Kent University 2004-2006. He went on to work for Joseph Clarke at the Millennium Gallery in St Ives. At the Millennium, he worked alongside a collection of exciting contemporary artists, many of whom are local to the area.
In October 2015, Matt joined the Leach Pottery as the second Seasalt Bursary Apprentice, giving him the opportunity to learn and work alongside a talented and diverse production team. ‘This environment and opportunity allows me to develop my personal work. At the moment I'm focusing on organic, semi abstract brushwork influenced by eastern traditions and the Leach legacy. I want to create forms that feel comfortable and are enjoyable to use.’
Matt’s approach to his work as an artist and tradesman places more importance on function than the appearance of beauty. He aims to achieve a transition from the traditions that influence him to a contemporary practice that speaks of his personality.
Annabelle Smith (UK)
Annabelle Smith studied Fine Art at the University of Gloucestershire, where she specialised in contemporary installation art. In her third year, an electric wheel arrived in the 3D room of the university and she began to realise her dream of becoming a production potter. After graduating, Annabelle started volunteering in various potteries around Devon and Cornwall. She helped at the Oxford Anagama project before spending a short time as a volunteer at the Leach and continuing on to do some work at Kigbeare studios.
In October 2017, Annabelle became the Leach Pottery’s third Seasalt Bursary Apprentice.
"The process of designing and making beautiful, utilitarian pieces for others to use sparks joy in me. I have always been practical and enjoyed working with my hands, so pottery is the perfect path for me to take."