Saturday, 8 December 2012

Muchelney Pottery and floods on the Somerset Levels

Two days ago, I visited the Somerset Levels with a friend. We were trying to find our way to the Muchelney pottery in search of pots by John Leach, the latest member of the Leach potting dynasty.

This is a beautiful area, but troubled just now by flooding. We were amazed that the village of Muchelney itself remained cut off when we visited two weeks or more after the flooding and residents were still having to go in and out of the village by boat or by tractor.

It was a wonderful afternoon as we drove down, cold, calm and sunny. In the lowest-lying areas, field after field was flooded. Being near sunset, there were glorious colours in sky and water. I had my camera with me and took several photos. My friend, who knows how I often work, suggested the scene could make a lovely silk landscape piece. I think she may be right.

Despite the recent floods, the pottery, just outside the village itself, was accessible - just, and only from the South. The property had suffered flooding for the first time in living memory. The house was inundated, together with studios and wood store, but the shop somehow was not and was open and very happy to receive visitors.

The wood-fired stoneware pots are both useful and beautifully crafted. I have several pieces I've bought on previous visits and bought some more this time for Christmas presents.

The shapes are strong and satisfying and feel good and balanced in the hand. I love the rich brown figuring on the unglazed outside faces, caused by the flames lapping around the wares in the firing.

John Leach is shown throwing as on his website at: http://www.johnleachpottery.co.uk/ - well worth a visit if you like beautifully made - and useful - stoneware.

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