Michael Leach, making teapots, 1977.
Michael Leach, the second son of Bernard Leach, was born in Tokyo in 1913. As a child, Michael was able to watch Shoji Hamada and Tsuronosuke Matsubayashi, as well as his father and Michael Cardew pot at St. Ives. However, Michael initially went to university and taught biology before finally giving in to the urge to become a potter in the late 1930's.
After military service and helping to set up two potteries in Africa, Michael began teaching pottery at Penzance School of Art, where one of his pupils was Robin Welch. Michael also worked at the Leach Pottery but in 1955 left at around the same time as his brother, David.
Michael moved to North Devon where he bought a farmhouse near to Fremington, the site of the last of the traditional Devonshire potteries that had been run by the Fishley family. This he converted into the Yelland Pottery and continued to pot there until the early 1980's when ill health forced him to retire.
The pots produced were initially in earthenware but then stoneware and included both domestic ware and individual decorative pieces. The latter occasionally had Michael's personal seal as well as the Y mark for Yelland.
Daphne Hatcher came to England in 1976 as a fiber artist and set up a temporary fiber art studio at Yelland while her husband Gary was beginning his apprenticeship there. Soon enough, though, she was drawn into the fold and began making her first pots at Yelland Pottery in the fall of 1976, learning to throw, glaze and decorate, with pigments and wax resist, under Michael's mentorship. She never looked back.