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David Leach Lecture on ceramics videotapes

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0576

Scope and Contents

The tapes appear to be filmed throughout the course of several days during a visit by David Leach to RIT November 1979. Tape number one shows Mr. Leach sitting at a potter's wheel talking to the audience about his life and work, and that of his fathers. Tapes two through five show him demostrating techniques used to throw a pot from clay.


  • Creation: November 1979

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

David Leach was an English studio potter and the elder son of Bernard Leach, a successful potter and Muriel Hoyle Leach. He admired his famous father's work and considered a self-conscious deviation from its forms was neither necessary nor desirable. Intuitive, evolutionary development was preferred to conspicuous change.

Although David was born in Japan, his family returned to England while he was still a child. A house was bought at Carbis Bay, in Cornwall, and Bernard, together with a Japanese friend and potter, Shoji Hamada, began the formidable task of setting up the pottery at nearby St Ives. This radical workshop, with its mixture of idealism, aesthetics, endless discourse and the stark realities of making a living, faced a continuing struggle for survival. But the ideas and standards that were constructed there had a significant influence on the direction of 20th-century studio pottery.

David was sent as a boarder to Dauntsey's school, Wiltshire, chosen for the breadth of its curriculum, particularly in the arts and natural sciences, and a commitment to a philosophy in which the fostering of individual talents was tempered by the imperative of social responsibility. On leaving in 1930, he joined his father at St Ives. He always maintained that he recognised the unique nature of the experience being offered, and had no doubt as to the rightness of his decision.

The Leach pottery was a strongly moralistic endeavour. While Bernard remained committed to the making of individual pots carrying the maker's personal mark, it did not diminish his advocacy of a workshop producing utilitarian pottery for everyday use.

David thought of himself as an educator, largely through the lecture demonstrations he gave to potters' groups around the world. At these gatherings, he would invariably speak about his father; his advocacy was unremitting, but elegant and persuasive. David assiduously progressed Bernard's reputation, yet paradoxically, came to regret its dominance over his own life and work. The proper teaching of throwing was a constant concern. He believed the continuation of handwork essential to the human condition, and was critical of what he considered to be the academic drift in university ceramic courses.


5 Item(s) (5 videotapes - 1 doc box)




A set of five videotapes documenting demonstrations and lectures at RIT's School for American Crafts Ceramic program in November 1979 by British potter, David Leach, son of famous potter Bernard Leach.


Tapes are in numbered order.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Must have a VCR player in order to view the tapes. The audio is difficult to hear due to static.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The videos were deposited in the RIT Archives at an unknown time.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Jody Sidlauskas in March 2015.

David Leach Lecture on Ceramics videotapes
RIT Archives
Jody Sidlauskas
13 March 2015
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA