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Core Record

Collection Crafts Study Centre
Correspondent Henry Bergen
Description Letter from Henry Bergen to Bernard Leach, one sheet.
Part Of Series Henry Bergen's correspondence with Bernard Leach, 1924 -1936
Id Number Current Accession LA.2393
Location Creation Site Norwood, Massachusett, US
Subject Leach Archive, letter, correspondence
Measurements 27.5 x 21.2 centimetres
Material paper
Other Materials ink
History One of a group of letters from Henry Bergen mainly at 55 Sutton Court, Chiswick, but also at the Plimpton Press, Norwood, Massachusett, U.S.A to Bernard Leach. He is pleased that the Raku book is progressing; his advice is to write as if explaining verbally to someone present; he has written to Matsu (Matsubayashi) regarding a gas kiln for Raku, he hopes to 'be down' before Matsu goes; he is jocularly envious that Leach has 'recently' or 'nearly' (Bergen cannot read which) learned to dance! The difficulty of acquiring powdered silver; he plans to see Murray at Brockley; he is frantically busy. Bergen is to visit (E. Morton) Nance to photograph his china; Cardew has been ill (April, 1924); he encloses sketches of some galena(-glazed) ware wich he wants; (Bernard) Rackham has visited him and has enthused over 'comb ware'; a digression over American football! In December 1924, he manages to get in a few Christmas Day sets of Tennis; many technical remarks on sulphurous coal and its effect on glazes in firning; the difficulty in acquiring good Cha no yu pieces; Armorel Nance is doing well at the Slade. In April1926 (U.S.A.) he declaims against Dedham Pottery (formerly Chelsea) - 'it is a tragedy', though probably the most important pottery in America; he has not had time to see Langdon Warner; is impressed with American weaving, but that is all - 'There are such beautiful Chinese pots in all the museums that one would think the modern potters couldn't help being inspired by them but apparently they are not.' Later in the same month, he enthuses over the glaze of a piece sent ot him by Matsubayashi: ' Matsu has no idea - & the unfortunate thing is that even with no idea he could make very respectable things by imitating good models & leaving off his decoration. As it is he is hopeless. I wish I had his technique!' In February 1930, he looks forward to Tomimoto's visit; he approves of Tomimoto's view that 'The arts & the sciences must come on the same road', but Bergen does not believe that the competitive, or profit, system can bring this about. He continues to be very busy on his 'Troy book', for which there is no single good Latin text, with the result that he must work from multiple printed variants; he is also helping Nance with his book on Swansea porcelain and pottery. In May 1930, he enthuses over the 'Coleshill' (Pledyell-Bouverie) show - shapes, decoration and glazes; Yanagi is to arrive in June; a thoughtful critique of (Eric) Gill's work; is pleased to hear of Leach's progress with tiles and fireplaces; tells of fine get-together of Cardew, 'Beano' (Katharine Pledyell-Bouverie) and Okuma at the Marx's; is still slogging away at the British Museum. On 10 July 1930 comes the unthinkable ---- he is 'fed up with tennis for the present!' He sees Nance and (J.G.) Fletcher (who appends a note as a post script) quite often. In December 1930 he catalogues his responsibilities; he has no leisure, and 'no time for thought, a thing I must have, & so except for short letters to Nance & occasionally one to 'Beano' & Fletcher (who is not successful in his writings just now & feeling it keenly) & most of these letters mere scrawls I've hardly written to anyone except when it's a case of must'. Does not feel Tomimoto should come over unless confident of financial success - there is not money about; he feels that Leach would be more profitabley based nearer London than St. Ives, although ' I don't think there can be any though (sic for thought) of amalgamation with Michael (Cardew) and Beano & Norah - They all want to continue to work independently, & I think are perfectly right -- Every artist must work alone ---'; a thoughtful and philosophical letter; his Christmas plans -- he hope to be alone to work. In March 1931 he is unsympathetic to Fletcher's resentful reception of Leach's criticism - poor Fletcher, 'he has no idea of differences between faience, stoneware & porcelain!'. An affectionately expressed post script reads: 'Did you see Thorp's article on the Coleshill Poettery? F(letcher) says it is impossibly complicated! I imagine it is quite good'. He wirtes of his enjoyment of Leach's London visit on 6 June 1931, the firings at Coleshill, technical pros and cons etc.; 'Beano says your things look very well (at the "National Show"). Murray has his big Zarathustra pot there which I dislike exceedingly. Michael she says, has sold his pots twice over to the exhibitors!' He continues: 'I don't know what Beano and Lise (Braden) can do unless they start something new in decorating - also forms. They are in a rut all right. Whether they have reached their natural limits I know not but hardly think so - & I don't know what good Nature would do either - Tomimoto is soaked in Nature - yet look at his pots - the form & decoration swearing at one another half the time - or the decoration wholly independent of the form'; he reports that Fletcher has separated from his wife. On 12 December 1931, he is glad to hear about Dartington --- 'I should like to see you play the devil ---'; he is irritated by Tomimoto's sulks. In february 1932, he commends 'Hobson's future successor at the B.M.', one (Soame) Jenyns (whom he has taught as far as possible about Cha no yu, etc.) to Leach and hopes that the young man can have a fortnight at St. Ives; further news of Cardew, 'Beano' (sometimes rendered as 'Bino'), Braden, his tennis, etc. He requires a potter's wheel; a coming Japanese Exhibition at Burlington House (he, Murrey, Brangwyn and, he hopes, Leach will be lending pieces, and Bergen is on the committee); much about J.G. Flecher's apparent dementia: "--- I'm very fond of him - he has fine qualities - but he has always been an awful fool & hardly able to take care of himself"; he thinks the estranged wife is to blame; Bergen has not seen 'Mairet' for long enough; Cardew and he are reorganising the pottery accommodation (at Winchcombe); Cardew's recent bad firing. Later in February Fletcher is improving after a disturbing bout of certifiable insanity; further tehnicalia regarding slipware. In April, 1933 he wonders how David (Leach) 'got on with the salt-glaze people' in France; the Japanese show has opened , but he is only marginally impressed; he saw Herbert Read at the opening (Read is to send his son to Dartington); the sale of the Winkworth Collection; his work on the 'Troy Book' continues. On 25 March 1934 he writes to Leach in Japan; addresses of his own Japanese contacts; a lecture by Herbert Read; mystifying and guarded references to 'the affair at St. Ives -- it all depends on what Leach wants, & her wishes should, I think be acceded to'; an equally gnomic reference to Mark Tobey. On 14 February 1935 a long and philosophical letter on the retrospective merits of humanistice handicrafts and rational mechanised production! He is pleased that Leach is enjoying his Japanese visit - his drawings and pots are the best ever. In March he regrets that Leach is not happy in Stoke-on-Trent; a coming Chinese exhibition at Burlington House - Hobson, Eumorfopoulos and Raphael have gone to Shanghai to collect material; the Eumorfopoulos Collection has been bought by the British and Victorian and Albert Museums, for 100,000; good wishes to his Japanese friends. In the last letter of this group, 26 January 1936 Bergen recommends to Leach the latest ceramics recruit at the Victoria and Albert Museum, one E.A. Lane, and hopes that he, too, can benefit from a spell at St. Ives, as did Soame Jenyns; gives Lane a glowing reference, he will visit the Chinese exhibition shortly for the 7th and 8th time, with Henry and Irina Moore --- 'There are plenty of good things there amongst the piles of rubbish', describes the show, ands damns it with faintish praise; he is still 'trying to help Nance with his damned Billingsley'.
24 items
Literary Source Catalogue of the Papers and Books of Bernard Leach, Volume II by Alyn Giles Jones, Crafts Study Centre, 1984-85
Rights Owner Managed by the Crafts Study Centre.
Style Period Period 1920s
Technique handwriting
 

 

 

 

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