Tsuronosuke Matsubayashi

Tsuronosuke Matsubayashi was born in the last decade of the nineteenth century into a family of potters whose history of potting goes back at least to the sixteenth century. Matsu claimed to represent the 39th generation of the family that had controlled the Asahi Pottery since its start.

Bernard Leach asked him to come to St Ives in 1922 to rebuild the unsuccessful climbing kiln at Leach Pottery. Matsu re-started from scratch, building a triple-chamber kiln on traditional Japanese principles. It was a great success, after one or two early mishaps, and stayed in service until the 1970s.

He made a big impression on the British potters, and became a mentor to many including Michael Cardew and Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie. His technical and scientific knowledge of ceramics was immense and he would give talks at the pottery in the evenings, much of which went over the heads of Leach and his colleagues. Bouverie made copious notes, which Cardew found the need to crib from her many years later to help his research into finding suitable materials for clays and glazes in Africa.

In 1925 Matsu helped Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie build her double-chamber kiln and get off to a good start at Coleshill. He returned to his family pottery in Japan, and died young, some time before 1940.

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