John Leach was born in St Ives; he is the grandson of Bernard Leach. He acquired his skills through the workshop tradition, starting with a five year apprenticeship with his father, David, and later working with his grandfather. Following his apprenticeship he taught in the USA, and set up a pottery with Harold Guilland in Mendocino, California. On his return, in 1964, Leach established his own pottery in Somerset to produce a range of domestic ware.
Conscious of his dependence on natural resources, Leach uses local clay and has established a woodland close to the pottery to supply wood for the kiln. This was originally built to a traditional Japanese design in 1965; Leach completed the building of a three-chambered kiln in 1998 where the carefully regulated stoking brings the temperatures up to 1320° with flames 15 metres long. There are some 50 designs of everyday tableware in production, from jugs to casseroles. The pieces are hand thrown in stoneware and safe both in microwaves and dishwashers. The exterior of the works are unglazed, yet glow warmly with the distinctive flame markings of the wood fired kiln. Leach’s works are honest and straightforward; they have been perfected over the years to be a marriage of hand, heart and eye and exemplify some of the best of the rural pottery tradition. Since 1980 Leach has been making one-off works that have allowed him to explore a wider range of shapes and to follow more creative impulses.