Bedding John

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John Bedding

“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 30 minute film of John’s working practice, techniques, and philosophy called ‘Fired Earth’.

John is a founding member and trustee of Bernard Leach (St Ives) Trust Ltd., a company set up to preserve and restore the Leach Pottery for the Community. John has recently been made ‘Honorary Lead Potter’ to the pottery, an advisory and curatorial role.  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.