John Bedding

John Bedding's Gallery

“I began potting when I was seventeen in a small commercial South London pottery. I was drawn to pottery by its unique mixture of art, craft and chemistry. The balance of routine, experiment and discovery seemed to suit my character and my skills. . .

John moved to St. Ives in the late 1960s. He worked with Bernard Leach, first as an apprentice and later, after a year in France, as a member of staff, during this period he was allowed to develop his own style and had three one-man exhibitions. In 1978 he became only the second potter sent to Japan by the Leach's. There he worked for a year in the pottery town of Tachiqui part of the ancient province of Tamba with his friend from the Leach, Shigeyoshi Ichino. Part of the experience was to help fire the long wood fired naborigama kilns called dragon kilns, so named because of the flames that poured out of the rear end during the firing. His year there culminated in a successful one-man exhibition in Osaka.

When he returned to England he set up his own pottery, firstly in Penzance, then Trencrom and finally in St. Ives itself - where in 1991 he established St Ives Pottery now known as St Ives Ceramics. He worked there until in 1998, when he moved his workshop to The Gaolyard Studios, this allowed him to extend the Gallery space to include the CBS Collection and exhibit a wider range of pottery styles.

John now mainly works for exhibitions and stocking his own Gallery. This has given him an independence that allows him to experiment with a wide range of pottery styles and techniques. His recent exhibitions include Tate St Ives and Galleries in Cork Street, London. In 2002 “Sky Arts Channel” made a 30minute film of John’s working practice, techniques, and philosophy called “Fired Earth”

Recently John has become a trustee of Bernard Leach (St Ives) Trust Ltd. A company set up to preserve and restore the Leach Pottery for the Community. Because of the years John spent at the pottery the project has a particular significance for him. He feels a heartfelt need to put something back to a place that has given him so much. 


Born 1947, London

Started working as a general assistant at Crest Ceramics and later Geoffrey Maund Pottery. Both were small commercial potteries in South
London. He learned mould making, casting, glazing, decorating and silk screen transfer.

Enrolled at Sir John Cass School of Art, Whitechapel.

Left for Cornwall and worked for "Arch Pottery" in St Ives as a thrower. Later moved to "Troika Pottery, a young local pottery with strong modern designs. More recently Troika Pottery has become very collectable as an icon of the 60’s.

Worked as a student apprentice at the Leach Pottery and came under the strong influence and philosophy of Bernard Leach. At this time he met and became friendly with Shigeyoshi Ichino, a Japanese potter working at the Leach.

Worked for a year with Jean Tessier at his atelier in Villenaux, France. He was later joined by Shigeyoshi for a few months and they exhibited together at a local gallery.

Joined the Leach Pottery’s permanent staff. Along with producing Leach Pottery Standard Ware, he was allowed to develop his own style. During this period John had three solo exhibitions in Plymouth, London and the Leach showrooms St Ives. He became a full member of Penwith Society of Artists.

Through Bernard and Janet Leach it was arranged that John should go to study at the Ichino family pottery in Tachiqui, Japan; only the second potter to be sent from the Leach to Japan. This comparatively unspoilt village is the centre of Tamba, an ancient pottery area with unbroken traditions going back 1500 years. Here potters still use the long, wood-fired dragon kilns. The influences John absorbed by the rich pottery and craft life in Japan were deep and long lasting. The year culminated in a successful one-man exhibition in Osaka.

Returned to England after a short tour in the East.

Set up his own workshop in Penzance, making a range of domestic

Started to work in low fired pottery and moved his workshop to Trencrom, just outside St Ives. He developed several individual techniques, working with copper and silver nitrate glazes, interacting them with unglazed burnished surfaces.

Again moved workshop, to St Ives, where he set up the St Ives Pottery and Gallery in Fish street, now called St Ives Ceramics. The Gallery became a showcase for his work and for other potters that he admires. 

Was chosen by The Tate Gallery, St Ives, to exhibit his work for a year throughout the galleries.

Moved his workshop to "Gaolyard Studios", a complex of nine purpose built pottery studios which John converted from a derelict council property that once was the site of the town gaol. Here he now works within a group again reminiscent of his time at the Leach Pottery. This move allowed him to expand St Ives Ceramics and to exhibit a greater variety of pots including a collection comprising of classic pots from 20th century studio pottery.

Became one of the founding members of the Leach Pottery Restoration Project, and now Trustee of the Leach Pottery Trust. This is a body set up to restore and run a renovated Leach Pottery. It will be used once again as a training centre for young potters, a project dear to his heart.

Throughout his career John as exhibited in joint and solo exhibitions in Britain and abroad and has his work in some major collections. He follows his own path exploring and developing new techniques in both low and high fired ceramics. Running St Ives Ceramics brings him in contact with most of the foremost potters in the world of Studio Ceramics; this has helped to sharpen both his critical and analytic mind and has broadened his approach to his own work.


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