Ray Finch was born in South London in 1914. He had to leave school early to help support his family and worked at a paper mill. Looking for a more meaningful way of life and work, he was influenced by the artist Eric Gill's creative philosophy. Impressed by the beautiful slipware produced by Michael Cardew at Winchcombe pottery, he asked to be taken on as a trainee potter but Cardew advised him to get some formal training. He studied at the Central School of Art under Dora Billington in 1935 and the following year joined Winchcombe Pottery. During this time he witnessed Michael Cardew reading drafts of Bernard Leach's influential A Potter's Book. Cardew taught him over the next few years, and Finch took over the pottery in 1939 when Cardew left, initially to set up Wenford Bridge. After the war years when he worked in the fire service, he was able to buy the business.
Originally Winchcombe slipware was fired in the large wood- fired bottle kiln however after 1952 they began to change over to produce stoneware pottery using an electric and later an oil kiln. In 1974 a new wood-fired kiln was built and is still in use. Many well known potters trained and worked for periods at Winchcombe Pottery which always functioned with a team of potters. After 1979 Ray's son Michael took on the running of the business. Ray Finch was awarded an MBE in 1980 and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999 at the International Ceramics Festival, Aberystwyth. He continued to make pottery in his 90s.
© 2014 Ceramics Collection and Archive, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion SY23 ING UK