Glenn Lewis: Leach Pottery Residency

Glenn Lewis, an ex-Leach Pottery Apprentice and recognised Canadian artist, is currently in residence with us until 26 May 2017. Here’s a little update about his residency and some of his recent projects.

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Exploring Medieval Pottery

Glenn is exploring Medieval pottery forms as early tableware. He has started work on Medieval breakfast sets, including porringers, jugs, bowls and honey/sugar pots; intending to glaze them inside with little or no glaze on the outside.

Glenn’s reasons for the medieval themes?

Bernard Leach was himself very interested and influenced by the forms, glazing and decoration of Medieval ceramics and it therefore seems appropriate on my return to the Leach Pottery to explore these ideas again.

While in the area Glenn also plans to photograph kitchens, pubs and other places in Cornwall. He’s interested in reuniting craft and art through presenting ordinary hand made pottery paired with these photographs. Each remains as a separate entity but are related through discovered poetical thoughts and details.

Glenn has also given demos and talks to groups and will hopefully be working in the Old Pottery from time to time.

Previous International Residencies

Glenn’s time at the Leach pottery follows hot on the heels of two previous international residencies; first during 2014/15 in Shigaraki and Bizen, Japan where he was resident for seven months . Glenn’s visit was hosted by the Kanishige family, one of the original six families authorised to produce pottery in the Bizen District. Bizen pottery has a history that goes back as long as 1000 years.

It’s one of the oldest schools of pottery in Japan and has long been cherished for its natural beauty, simple and unique design, and its durable and noble quality. Admirers of Bizen pottery can be found all around the world, one of whom was Janet Leach and its influence on her work can be seen on many of the forms she made.

Glenn’s residency in Japan culminated in a month long exhibition in Tokyo at the Wakayama Museum.

His next residency took him to the ‘Porcelain Capital of the world’- Jingdezhen, China, a city with an astounding history that stretches back over 2000 years. Still one of the world’s most important centres for pottery, Glenn notes:

 half the population are still involved in ceramics.

He describes whole streets devoted to ceramics production; recalling a visit to a street where there were nothing but glaze material shops. Going into one to buy some celadon he was asked:

From which Dynasty?!

In The Future

Glenn’s next trip after the Leach Pottery will involve two of his other interests: gardens/flora and photography. He will be visiting and taking photos at Europa- Rosarium, a living museum of roses in Sangerhausen, Germany.

It’s a pleasure and an honour for us to be able to welcome such a prolific, energetic and creative artist as Glenn, whose connection to the Pottery, past and present, has provided us with a wealth of personal memories and insight. We wish him well on his next adventure (after he’s hopefully left us with some of his medieval breakfast sets!) and look forward to hearing more tales from his many travels.

Glenn’s Background

Born on Vancouver Island in 1935, Glenn lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. He graduated from the Vancouver School of Art in 1958 and apprenticed with Bernard Leach from 1961-63, working alongside John Leach and John Reeve. He returned to the Leach Pottery in 2013 for a very successful residency, which resulted in an exhibition of work.

An innovative first-generation conceptual mixed media artist, Glenn has worked with pottery, sculpture, performance, correspondence, photographs, video and installation since the early 1960s. The scope and intellectual pursuits of his work range across concept, fiction, myth and community concerns.

He was one of the earliest innovators in performance art with ‘Flour Piece’ 1968 at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and video performances, ‘Japanese Pickle’ and ‘Blue Tape Around City Block’ both in 1969. His work has included serving on a number of arts organizations including the Board of Directors of: LIVE Vancouver Performance Art Festival; Vancouver Art Gallery. He has also been Vice President of the Canadian Association of National Non-Profit Artist Centres and Director at the Western Front Society, Vancouver.

Glenn has taught ceramics at University of BC (1964-67 and 1971-74); N.Y. State College of Ceramics, Alfred University (1970-71) and worked as Head of Media Arts, Canada Council, Ottawa (1987-90).

He has received several awards: ‘Emily’ award from Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design, Vancouver (2000); a B.C. Cultural Services Visual Arts grant in1993, five Canada Council grants from 1967 to1984 and a 2017 Canada Governor General’s Visual Arts Award.

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