About Dartington

The Dartington Hall Trust Collection

Bernard Leach at work at Shinners Bridge Pottery c.1935

Items from Dartington’s collection are displayed at venues across the Dartington estate, at local galleries and related exhibition spaces nationally. Items from the collection can currently be seen on display in the Garden Room at Lower Close, Dartington and at the Leach Pottery in St Ives.

The Dartington Collection was collected over many years by Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst. The Elmhirsts are believed to be one of the 20th century’s most substantial private patrons of architecture, the arts and education in England. Ceramics were mainly bought by Leonard on the advice of Bernard Leach and pictures by Dorothy, who was a particular patron of young up and coming artists.

In the 1930s and early 1940s the Dartington Hall estate was home to several artists including Cecil and Elisabeth Collins and Mark Tobey who are represented in the Collection.

The Trust has recently undergone a careful process to define a core collection of over 400 items that reflect Dartington’s contribution to the arts across several media – including sculpture, drawings, paintings, ceramics, textiles and furniture. This core collection represents key artists who have strong Dartington connections, such as Cecil Collins, Mark Tobey, Ben Nicholson, Alfred Wallis, Frances Hodgkins, John Piper, Christopher Wood and Willi Soukop.

Artists in the collection

Ben Nicholson abstract painter, married to Barbara Hepworth from 1938 to 1951, Nicholson knew Henry Moore and met Mondrian and Picasso. His gift was his ability to incorporate European trends into a new style that was his own. Some of Nicholson’s works can be seen at the Tate St Ives gallery.

Bernard Leach CBE, regarded by some as the “Father of British studio pottery” set up the Leach Pottery at St. Ives, Cornwall in 1920. Leach was instrumental in organizing the only International Conference of Potters and Weavers in July 1952 at Dartington Hall, where he had been working and teaching.

The Dartington Collection

Alfred Wallis Cornish fisherman and artist. A few years after he started painting Ben Nicholson came to St. Ives and established an artist colony. Nicholson celebrated Wallis’s direct ‘na├»ve’ approach to image-making. Examples of Wallis’ paintings can be seen at the Tate St Ives.

Shoji Hamada a Japanese potter. He was a significant influence on studio pottery of the twentieth century, and a major figure of the mingei folk-art movement, establishing the town of Mashiko as a world-renowned pottery center. Having spent three years in St Ives with Bernard Leach he returned to Japan in 1923

Christopher Wood met Picasso and Diaghilev, travelling around Europe and north Africa between 1922 and 1924. He met Ben Nicholson in 1926, whose dedication to his art had a great influence. Wood subsequently exhibited with Nicholson. An admirer of Alfred Wallis.

Lucie Rie In 1937 Rie won a silver medal at the Paris International Exhibition, the exhibition for which Pablo Picasso painted Guernica. Rie was a friend of Bernard Leach. Her brightly-coloured, delicate, modernist pottery stands apart from from Leach’s subdued, rustic, oriental work.

Cecil Collins an English artist originally associated with the Surrealist movement. In 1936 Collins moved to Devon, attending Mark Tobey’s classes at Dartington Hall. Collins held an exhibition in the Barn Studio (1937) and, after Tobey’s departure in 1938, he taught here (1939-43) alongside Bernard Leach, Hein Heckroth and Willi Soukop

Hans Coper an influential British studio potter. His work is often coupled with that of Lucie Rie due to their close association, even though their best known work differs dramatically, with Rie’s being more functional and traditional, while Coper’s was much more abstract and assuredly non-functional.

Picture by Cecil Collins c.1930s

Mark Tobey an American abstract expressionist painter, he sailed to England in 1931 to teach at Dartington Hall, in Devon. There, he was resident artist of the school. In addition to teaching, he painted frescoes for the school and became a close friend of Bernard Leach.

Marianne de Trey Marianne de Trey was born in London in 1913 of Swiss parents. She studied textile design at the Royal College of Art. In 1947 they took over Shinner’s Bridge Pottery in Dartington.

Winifred Nicholson an English painter, a colourist who developed a personalized impressionistic style that concentrated on domestic subjects and landscapes. After separating from Ben Nicholson in 1938, she spent most of the rest of her long life in Cumberland.

Michael Cardew an English studio potter who worked in West Africa for twenty years. Cardew was the first apprentice at the Leach Pottery, St.Ives, Cornwall, in 1923. He shared an interest in slipware with Bernard Leach and was influenced by the pottery of Shoji Hamada.

For more information email

We work in three core areas: Registered charity number: 279756