Michael Cardew was the first of many students at the Leach Pottery arriving in 1923 shortly before Hamada returned to Japan. Leach says "a handsome young man looking like Apollo - straight nose and forehead, with curly golden hair and flashing eyes - burst into the Pottery!"1 He was not interested in imitating Leach but he acquired an aesthetic judgement that was to last his lifetime. Leach described him as his first and best student. "I do not believe anyone in this country has made such warm, honest, more or less traditional English slipware, and with so much life."2 Certainly the vigorous brushwork and sgraffito decoration on his plates and bowls illustrate this vitality. Michael spent three years at the St Ives pottery before buying a derelict pottery at Winchcombe in Gloustershire, where he revived the English slipware tradition. In 1939 he left the pottery to his apprentice Ray Finch. He then set up the Wenford bridge pottery in Cornwall, producing earthenware and stoneware. He took on the post as pottery instructor at Achimota College in Ghana in 1942, staying for six years, following on from Harry Davis and Kenneth Murray who both had also been at St Ives. He returned to Africa in 1951, staying in Nigeria and Ghana for 14 years. This time he introduced wheel made pottery to African students and also developed his own style. When he returned to Wenford Bridge he wrote Pioneer Pottery, published in 1969 which joined Leach's A Potters Book (1940) on the shelves of aspiring studio potters.
1. Bernard Leach, Beyond East and West: Memoirs, Portraits & Essays, (London, 1978), p147
2. Ibid, p.148