Texas-born Janet Darnell met Bernard LEACH and Shoji HAMADA when they were touring America in 1952 and she had a small pottery at Threefold Farm, Spring Valley, New York. Bernard was then on his way to Japan, and after a long correspondence she was permitted to join him and study under the sponsorship of Hamada. In 1956 she came to England, married Bernard Leach, and their subsequent partnership proved to be an undeniable influence on the world of pottery and the careers of many young potters who have since emerged into prominence.
Janet's work focused on experimenting with different materials to see how they combined to produce unique and interesting glaze-effects, sometimes incorporating unrefined mineral ores as component parts of her clay bodies. She was greatly influenced by her experiences in Japan, from the whole philosophy behind Japanese pottery (especially the wood-firing techniques of Tamba and Bizen), to the utilisation of natural materials. Originally trained as a sculptor, she strongly believed that the aesthetics of sculpture and pottery are totally different and should not be intermixed: 'my pots are made on the kick wheel or by slab construction, but they are still pots.' Bernard admired her independence: 'Janet's pots show no direct influence from mine', he wrote, yet bewailing her interest in 'irregular forms and textures'.
When Bernard died in 1979, Leach's standard ware was no longer produced. Janet worked in the pottery with Trevor CORSER until her death in 1997. She was assisted in later years by Jason WASON, who remains at the pottery today.
works and access
Access to works: Leach Pottery, St Ives
misc further info
Publication references for Janet appear in most bibliographies of Bernard Leach and the Leach Pottery
Digital Museum of Cornish Ceramics (on-line)
Tate (1985) St Ives 1939-64: Twenty-Five Years of Painting, Sculpture and Pottery (Exhibition catalogue)
Whybrow (1985) Potters in their Place;
(1996, 2006) The Leach Legacy (photos and illus)