In 2013 Julia Twomlow, Director of the Leach Pottery invited me to come to St Ives, as an Artist in Residence, to respond to this ridge tile made by Bernard Leach. It had been placed on a roof in Carbis Bay until the early 1990s. Julia also asked me to do some research for a presentation at the end of the residency. I am still doing the research and have been greatly assisted by Peter Smith, sharing his deep knowledge of early English ceramics, and by Matt Tyas, research fellow at the Leach Pottery, potter and photographer. Alex Lambley helped get me where ever I needed to go, and she and would discuss our findings, and Sarah Lloyd-durrant curator at the Royal Cornwall Museum has been generous and helpful. The people at the wonderful St Ives Archives found images and provided other insights. The Leach sculpture is very rare – there is one companion piece “Going to Work” in a private collection in Cornwall, that we know of. These two sculptures were intended to be cemented onto earthenware roof ridge tiles, and were Leach’s own response to the traditional equestrian tiles that used to adorn the roofs of better homes in the western counties. The tiles were made to cover up old smoke holes no longer in use. Leach’s horse and riders were made of earthenware, so that automatically dates them to prior 1935. These sculptures were made with a modernist spirit and are very unlike the traditional equestrian tiles that can be found in museums. [See the next post.]
I had been encouraged to work with this image or respond to it in my own way. The research has been almost as enjoyable as the studio work of ‘responding’ to the Leach sculpture. I have not worked with a horse image for many many years. Interestingly, just prior to Julia’s invitation, I had been thinking of reintroducing it into my work, and 2014 is the Year of the Horse, so it all seems synchronous. I will continue the theme for my October solo exhibition at the Gallery of BC Ceramics, called “Horsing Around – In the year of the Horse”.