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Collection Crafts Study Centre
Correspondent Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie
Description Letter from Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie to Bernard Leach, six handwritten sides in ink on three single pages, contains two rough sketches of pots. Written from The Grange, Bournemouth.
Part Of Series Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie's correspondence with Bernard Leach
Id Number Current Accession 2494
Location Creation Site Coleshill Estate, Coleshill, Wiltshire, UK
Subject Leach Archive, letter, correspondence
Measurements 17.8 x 11.5 centimetres
Material ink on paper
History Accession numbers 2492 - 2495 are a group of letters from Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie (KPB) at The Mill, Coleshill and The Grange, Bournemouth to Bernard Leach. KPB was known as 'Beano.' There are references throughout to 'Lise', 'Peter', 'Gwen', 'Volo', 'Marco', 'Fuzzle' etc. Bernard Leach (B.L.) is 'Rik' or 'Cher maitre'. Some rough notes and sketches, many reports of firings (good, bad and indifferent) and enquires after B.L.'s glaze recipes and general technicalia is included. 'Peter's' threatened suicide and obvious need of treatment for her mental condition - Beano will not have her back to 'run her own pottery alongside unless she agress to enter a nursinghome for six months. KPB's difficulties with the temperament of so many co-workers and colleagues at present (mid-1928), her dislike of too much 'arrangement' - 'good things (do not) mix of themselves' are referred to. She chides B.L. for not maintaining stocks of wood for firing - 'I've wood for two years ahead always' and the further vagaries of 'peter' are mentioned. The death of her grandmother, aged 93 in August 1928 and her many virtues - 'For me I hope to be square in life if Ilive up to 90, not much before, one lacks perspective at less than 70' (illa veteratrix in eadem perspicientia K.P.B. serene mortem obiit decimo die mensis Januarii MCMLXXXV annoque aetatis suae octogesimo nono!). There are many mentions of friends and associates, etc: Mrs. Mairet, Percy St., 'Kimber's', Miss Barron, Yanagi, Bergen, Colnaghi's, Michael (Cardew), Mrs. Eumorfopoulos, (Charles) Vyse, the Turveys, etc. She scolds B.L. for exhibiting 'a scratch lots of pots' when 'they'll be simply lost by the side of Murray's enormities. I know they are a mixed grill & all that, but if you want to uphold the dignity of pots that aren't just flash & bobastic like so much of Murray you simply must take them a little seriously - the shows I mean not the pots. Murray is leaving South Ken. (this in Oct. 1928) & Professor Rothernstein talked to him about his successor. She (sic) of course said you were the one man with experience & all the rest of it, & he'll probably offer it to you. Take if he does, do: it'd do you all the good in the world to get right away for eight months out of the year for a year or two, with time to stand back & look things for a bit'. She is glad (Oct. 1229) that Yanagi 'is having a decent & interesting time in God's Own Country. God's Own Country - Bergen - comes to us for our next firing, I believe: he is mildly curious to know how far we imitate our master in what he calls 'my-godding round the kiln', I think!!!'. There are constants invitations to B.L. to visit them and tells of a 'loud & hilarious teafight' with Michael (Cardew), 'Scandalizing' a Broadway teashop. She is scrupulously fair in her defence of B.L.'s 'Miss Bell' and advises him on how to handle 'the girls', for B.L. is 'very difficult to work with, in some ways'. She urges him to 'try awfully hard to see the other fellow's point of view when it happens that your immediate interests & his (or her's) are in conflict. I don't think that you are awfully good at that', although she confesses that he was 'unbrokenly generous & nice' to her at St. Ives and since. She refers to Eleanor's perforated appendix operation in April, 1930. KPB sends her B.L. reed ash and meticulous instructions. A propos of (her relative Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie, 6th Earl of Radnor, 1868-1930) 'Jac' Radnor's death - 'I don't mind the blackness of nothing that is death so much as the disintigration of the living body that precedes it.' She admits, re. Mrs. Elmhirst, that 'I've disliked her ever since I saw her cooing like a turtle at a pot. So silly, & so incinsere, to coo at a pot'. She talks of her preference for mat glazes, and near-hate for shiny surfaces (June 1930) - 'I want my pots to make people think, not of the Chinese, but of things like pebbles & shells and birds (Sic), eggs and the stones over which moss grows. Flowers stand out of them more pleasantly, so it seems to me. And that seems to matter most' - hence her dislike of 'all the mutton fat & glitter'. She goes on to praise, appraise and criticise Murray's and B.L.'s pots - theirs are 'too tight, ours are too loose', she has just bought 'a Martin Bros. Pot for 6d!'. Tomimoto's pots have arrived for an exhibition, but she 'didn't expect his pots to be other than cold, hard, competent & rather slick & smug', though 'perhaps we shall even be pleasantly surprised by his show'. A show at the 'National!' The arrangments at any general art exhibition (selon K.P.B.) are ' hilarious - the potters always win!' There are several mentions of K.P.B.'s (and Michael Cardew's) passion for folk dancing, the making of bamboo pipes for 'village kids', Lise's prediliction for making 2-foot pots 'in three pieces', her abject concern at George Dunn's 'surface cancer', a riotously funny sequence about a certain Sylvanus ('I suppose if you cll a kid Sylvanus you must expect him to have a penchant for goats') and a certain Ezekeil ('who used to molest little girls or something of the sort'). At Heal's the Vyse array of multitudinous pots is surely profitably, but 'it does make the show look niggly', her view on Raku she wonders, in Oct. 1933, 'why Matsu(bayashi) died, Bergen and tennis and Wimbledon. There is a gap between 19 Oct. 1933 and 8 Feb. 1941 - then, the bomb has fallen on B.L.'s pottery; she has heard 'A potter's Book' referred to as the 'The Potter's Bible'.

K.P.B. is the ideal correspondent. She is brisk, brusque, robust in style, capable of great delicacy her criticisms, witty, waggish and irreverent. It has been a privilege to catalogue - however inadequately - this group of letters. 29 items. (7/2 )

N.B. Among the sobriquets referred to above ;Lise is Nora Braden, 'Peter' is is Peter Mason - the 'Mason' of Nora Braden's letters (q.v.), 'Marco' is Enid Marx, textile printer - the 'Marx' of Narah Braden's letters (q.v.).

Alyn Giles Jones
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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