Description - Janet Leach: Potter by Joanna Wason

Janet Darnell’s childhood in Texas during the Roaring Twenties and the Depression imbued her with resilience and practical skills, largely acquired on her grandparents’ farm. Aged 19 she took a bus to New York City where she found work as a sculptor’s assistant. During the Second World War she worked on Staten Island welding the hulls and bows of ten US Navy destroyers. After discovering pottery she met Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada at a Black Mountain College seminar where her love of pottery was sealed. She then spent two years potting in Japan where she met Bernard again and he proposed marriage.

They planned to build a pottery near Kyoto but two years absence from the Leach Pottery obliged Bernard to return to Cornwall and a year later, in 1956, Janet reluctantly left Japan, persuaded to join him in St.Ives, a place unknown to her, in a country she had never visited. There she stayed for over 40 years, as manager of the world-famous Leach Pottery, while also making her own remarkable pots. 

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