In 1957, Stichbury won the prestigious Association of New Zealand Art Societies fellowship. He travelled to England to work at the Leach Pottery in St Ives, established in 1920 by Bernard Leach and Japanese potter, Shoji Hamada. Enthralled with oriental pottery traditions and rejecting mass production techniques, Leach sought to make unassuming domestic pots that were beautiful, functional, and honestly crafted from local materials. His 1940 publication, A Potter’s Book, became a manifesto for aspiring potters the world over, including Peter Stichbury.
When Peter and Diane Stichbury arrived, the Leach Pottery was producing both individual pieces by Leach, and ‘standard-ware’ made to order and sold by catalogue. Stichbury learned to throw pots with great precision, writing to his parents in 1957: ‘One has to get the right amount of clay dispersed thru the whole pot. It isn’t just a matter of making a pot! You have to work to correct measuremeants [sic], besides getting the feel of the pot ie. the ‘spirit’ of the thing.’