The John Leach Gallery is delighted to showcase a solo exhibition of the latest individual pots by master potter Mark Melbourne.
Born in London, Mark spent his early pre-school years in Zambia before moving to North Somerset where he grew up and was educated. Following school he began a two year vocational arts course at Weston-Super-Mare Technical College and afterwards a two year pottery course at Camborne Technical College where one of his throwing teachers was William Marshall.
After college Mark spent 18 months training with Simon Leach in Exeter during which time he was introduced to John Leach and Muchelney Pottery. He later spent a further 18 months at Dart Pottery when he continued to visit Muchelney and regularly help with the kiln firings alongside John, Nick Rees and Tim Hurn until eventually he joined the Muchelney Pottery crew in 1991. He stayed for 3 years - learning the techniques and ethos of production pottery the 'Leach Tradition' way.
In 1994 Mark embarked on Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO). Having spent some of his early life in Africa he had always wanted to return. He spent time in Sierra Leone and Nigeria where he was fully immersed in local life. He would get involved with kiln building, brick making, marketing and teach pottery. He enjoyed and was inspired by the improvisation that came with digging your own materials, building machines and being fully self-sufficient.
It was during his time at Muchelney that Mark began to develop his own personal pieces which gave him the foundation, on returning from VSO, to establish his own pottery at Oakhill, Somerset in 1998.
While working at Oakhill he developed a strong tableware range combining influences from Africa and English country pottery. Fired in a hand built, single chambered, Japanese style 'anagama' kiln he could fire up to 200 pots at a time.
In 2002 Mark accepted an invitation to rejoin the Muchelney Pottery crew full time. Along with John and Nick Rees he produces the Muchelney catalogue range of kitchenware pots which are used in homes all over the world. John's strong, rustic country designs are well suited to Mark's style of making.
Mark continues to develop his personal pots - always experimenting with form and surface decoration. He has a small workshop space where he throws and then fires his work in the Muchelney Pottery 3-chambered woodfired climbing kiln. The searing heat of 1320 degrees that the kiln firing reaches creates the distinctive 'toasting' to some pots and the lively rich glazes on others. Opening the kiln is still an exciting moment for him, reaching in to retrieve a pot, holding it and seeing it in the light.... And of course there are the 'happy accidents', the unpredictable firing results that continue to excite.