In a culture where ceramics is regarded by many as its highest form of art, Shozo Michikawa marches steadily ahead to the beat of his own drummer. He is widely regarded around the world as well as by his Japanese contemporaries as one of the modern masters of ceramics. His sculptural work graces the collections of most of the important ceramic museums and private collections around the globe. Michikawa was born in 1953 on the island of Hokkaido in the extreme north of Japan. He studied economics at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. After graduation he began what he thought would be a career in business. That was destined to be short-lived, lasting only two years. Evening classes awoke a passion for clay and he moved to Seto in the Aichi Prefecture at the end of the 1970s. Since then, he has dedicated his career and lifestyle to ceramics. His choice of location in itself speaks volumes about his attitude towards his art. The Seto area is one of the six ancient kilns of Japan. The area has been producing terracotta art and pottery for over 1, 300 years and is understandably deeply steeped in tradition. It has been argued that his late start gave him a different approach to his art. After all, other ceramicists in the region mostly came from families that had been potters for scores of generations. But that is not to say his work is without tradition. Indeed his work is marked by deep contemplation and thought so characteristic of all Japanese arts. His faceted and twisted pots are made on a potter’s wheel, but are not thrown in the usual way; instead they are twisted on an internal axis. This work brims with sculptural details and inlays, and often appear to have been hand decorated in a subsequent phase to turning on a potter wheel. But this is not the case. Michikawa modifies the internal spinning axis to alter the structure and composition of the clay and works by subtraction of form. Though his techniques are diverse, Michikawa always strives to create functional pieces. He writes "no matter how styles change, I always insist on creating pieces that can actually be used. Pottery was originally an integral part of people's lives.” It is tempting to liken his work to haiku, that ancient and honored form of Japanese poetry. In comparison with Romance and Germanic language verse which is typically characterized by syllabic meter, Japanese verse counts sound units. A traditional haiku poem consists of precisely 17 sound units in three phrases of five, seven and five sound units. Instead of using ideograms, Michikawa uses clay and glaze, infusing spirituality and palpable poetic energy into his work while capturing the ephemeral Japanese philosophy and aesthetics of Wabi Sabi, founded on the acceptance of the transitory nature of all things. This work has a reverential attitude to nature and time. It venerates rocks, trees and the seasons of earth in all of its natural beauty. Each is a haiku that distills classic and contemporary emotion.