Bernard Leach, Well Head and Mountains, 1929
Friday, October 30, 2009
Well Head and Mountains
A half term trip to York this week included a look round York City Art Gallery which houses the Milner-White Collection. Eric Milner-White, Dean of York, was one of the great 20th century collector-clerics; his contemporary Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester, amassed another impressive collection now displayed at the Pallant House Gallery. Among the Milner-White acquisitions on display is Bernard Leach's panel of tiles Well Head and Mountains (1929). In A Potter's Work, Leach wrote of this that 'the design is imaginary but derived from things seen and felt in the mountains of Japan, although the various elements had, to me a long-term significance of a pictorial kind.' Another account makes clear that this is a kind of personal oneiric vision, resembling others I've mentioned here before (like Kafka's Amerika), where the distorted and simplified landscape, imagined at a distance, has its own poetic truth. Leach wrote in Beyond East and West, 'the peaks of the high Japan Alps became part of a dreamland which I often drew or even painted on pots. That picture has remained with me all through life.'