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Trevor Corser

Born: 1938, Oldham

Trevor Corser arrived in St. Ives forty years ago as a fisherman, taking his chances off the treacherous Cornish coast in the hunt for lobster and crayfish. He had no thoughts then of being a potter and could scarcely have imagined that he would one day become the custodian of an artistic legacy which has had a deep influence on twentieth century cultural life.

Trevor, an affable northerner with a wry humour and totally unpretentious air, works for the most part alone in the workshop which was once alive with young potters from far and wide who wanted to learn their craft at the master's knee. For modest financial returns, they pedalled their wheels furiously to produce Bernard Leach's standard ware, which was made to his own designs and found a market all over the world.

Corser, who gave up fishing in the mid-Sixties to stack kilns and pack pots for transit, learned the potter's craft in spare moments under Leach's critical eye, and now carries on the master's tradition with a steady output of one-off studio pieces that find their way into collections all over the world. He is conscious of his debt to Leach, and is proud to produce work of which his mentor would have approved, but his has long since blossomed into an acclaimed potter in his own right. Even so, he never feels far from Leach's gaze. He is acutely aware when he produces glaze colours, which Leach might have found offensive. Twenty years after his death, Leach continues to exert his influence.

When Leach died in 1979, his Texan wife Janet kept the Leach Pottery alive, but very much on her own terms. Out went the standard domestic ware that had been a key element in the production process; in came a new determination to produce only 'one off' studio pieces for a discerning international market. For many years, Janet Leach and Trevor Corser upheld the Leach tradition together, Janet producing her highly individualistic pieces on her kick-wheel, Trevor following more closely the stoneware forms favoured by the master. When a hip problem forced Janet to abandon the wheel and resort to hand-building, Trevor soldiered on, maintaining the pottery's productivity with long hours at the wheel every day.

Trevor sees himself very much in his mentor's mould, producing functional pots with a life and soul of their own. When he sits down at his wheel every morning, he has no game plan for the day, making whatever takes his fancy. "But I like everything that goes out from here with my stamp on it to be right. If I don't like a pot when it's finished, I don't offer it for sale!”
While art colleges are taking ceramics into the realms of fine art, abandoning its functional traditions, Trevor Corser keeps faith with the master. Each pot bears the unmistakable mark of its maker. As Bernard Leach said: "The character of the potter must come through".