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North South in the West

Featuring the work of Sam Hall and John Bedding that marked the 30th anniversary of the gallery.

The exhibition ran from September 13th to November 1st 2020 and despite Covid restrictions we had a wonderful response to it, making for a very successful exhibition. 


Sam Hall large tapering bowl sold during the exhibition
Sam Hall large tapering bowl sold during the exhibition
John Bedding large arched pot sold during the exhibition
John Bedding large arched pot sold during the exhibition


Their history together –

John and Sam met in 1996, when Sam came to St Ives from his native Yorkshire where he had formerly had his own pottery workshop. He had trained for 5 years and left Loughborough University with a degree in Ceramics.                
John had come to St Ives from London in 1967 and worked for the Leach Pottery for 10 years in the 60’s and 70’s. He spent time in France and Japan and has since worked continuously in the St Ives area.

The two immediately hit it off and John offered him work in his studio as an assistant. “Sam was the first person I had found that I could successfully work with – we were of like minds and had an understanding of how to work together”.

Later Sam rented a workshop out at Trencrom; ironically in the same space John had worked 10 years earlier. He gave this up to join John at the Gaolyard Studios and helped him establish the small cooperative of Potters that now work there. Sam left the Gaolyard four years ago and now works in Hayle, where he moved to a larger workshop, and to gain more independence.

The pots –

Although vastly different in styles and techniques there is a connection in the way they work. Both start with shapes thrown on the wheel then alter and shape them into a more sculptural form. They also enjoy intervening with decoration and treat each pot as an individual, working in great detail and with multiple firings. But, from then on they differ.

Sam uses glazes to decorate in a fluid abstract impressionistic style; his shapes are used as a canvas for an array of subtle colours, on a background of flat blacks, and lighter greys and whites. On some of his pots pour marks of the glazes give texture to the pots, and on others he uses Egyptian paste modified and added to the pots along with found fragments of copper slag (waste) from the local copper industry that once thrived in and around Hayle. Sam has said of these pots “History is playing large in these pieces; the 50,000 year history of the pot, the 7,000 year history of glaze and the 350 year history of a local industry….all fired in a 20th Century electric kiln”.

John’s decoration is more illustrative and formal. He uses a unique technique that he developed using a photosensitive emulsion to flood his pots in wide-ranging intricate designs. These are drawn out on a computer screen and projected directly onto the pot, pigments and glazes are added for colour and detail. The result being an array of shapes, dressed in colourful graphic designs that John describes as “tattooing his pots”. There is also an alter ego in his copper glazed pots. These are more sculptural in form, glazed in copper and patinated in a post firing procedure. There is a metallic hardness in the finish to the sharply sculpted forms.

Remaining on show in the gallery are a collection of pots by the master potters at the Leach Pottery during John’s time there. Featured are pots by Bernard and Janet Leach, David Leach and Bill Marshall. 


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