This wheel-thrown lidded pot is made of a rich brown stoneware clay. It has been glazed on the inside in a winter green colour but left unglazed on the outside, except for the tops of the handles and the edge of the lid. On the base the name of the potter – ‘M Leach’ – is painted in a cursive hand.
We have only one Australian potter in our database with the surname Leach – Judy Leach, who was a visiting student at Purdue University, USA, in 1981 (Pottery in Australia, 21/1, 1982, p.43). David and I did wonder, with no real knowledge, if the potter could have been Michael Leach (1913-1985), Bernard Leach’s younger son, but his entry on the Pottery Studio website suggests that he marked his work with an impressed ‘Y’ for Yelland Pottery.
We listed this pot on eBay a few months ago with a reserve of $49.99 to see if someone might recognise the mark. Although we had quite a few watchers, the listing went through without a bid. We were quite pleased that it didn’t sell. It has a quality that we would like to live with for a while. We have grouped it on the bookshelf behind the counter with a Harold Hughan jar, a Shigeo Shiga bottle and a few other pieces by mystery potters in a similar style. Hopefully, either a gallery visitor or a reader of this blog will come by some day and greet this work as an old friend.
Postscript: A reader has let me know (see comments) that this is the work of Maureen Leach, a Melbourne potter who trained at the Potters’ Cottage studio in Warrandyte and, with a group of [seven] other potters, set up the Stonehouse Pottery shop as an outlet for their work.
The shop, which opened in 1972, was originally housed in the old Warrandyte Selby General Store on Jumping Creek Road, but relocated in 2005 to the Gospel Chapel building on Yarra Street. It is now called the Stonehouse Gallery and represents the work of textile artists, painters and jewellers as well as potters.