Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie was born in Coleshill, Berkshire in 1895. After serving in the Red Cross in France during the First World War, she studied the arts, including pottery, at night school in London in 1921-23. She met Bernard Leach in 1923 at an exhibition at the Paterson Gallery and, finally, convinced him to take her on as a student. She joined the Leach Pottery in St. Ives in 1924, as Shoji Hamada was leaving but Michael Cardew, Tsurunosuke Matsubayashi, Edgar Skinner and George Dunn were working. After her year training at the pottery she returned to Coleshill and set up her own workshop, building a wood firing kiln with the help of Matsubayashi. She was joined in 1928 by fellow potter Norah Braden and they went on to produce independent work over the next eight years, drawing both on the orientalist ideas of Bernard Leach and the modernist values of minimalism and ‘truth to materials’. They experimented with producing a wide range of ash-glazes using wood from the local area and kept careful records of the recipes, marking each pot accordingly. Braden left Coleshill in 1936 to care for her ailing mother and Pleydell-Bouverie continued to work there until 1946 when she moved to Kilmington Manor in Wiltshire. Here she built an oil kiln and later still an electric one. She exhibited widely in the 1960’s and 70’s – including several times at Kettles Yard in Cambridge and in 1981 was given a retrospective exhibition at the Crafts Study Centre, Bath. She died at Kilmington Manor in 1984.
(text: Gallery Besson, London).
Pictures: Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie, portrait by John Anderson, 1976 (source Ceramic Review, November December 1980); Katharine in 1977 at Kilmington Manor; Group photo dated 1929 with Katharine, surrounded by Bernard Leach, Henry Bergen, Soetsu Yanagi, Shoji Hamada, Michael Cardew, her mother and Nora Braden (source Ceramic Review, November December 1980); three ash glazed vessels (source Cowan's 2011).
- 'Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie', in: Ceramic Review November December 1980.