I’ve been continuing my adventures in Bond St this week – this time in the Royal Arcade which runs between Old Bond St and Albemarle St. I was there to see Shozo Michikawa’s ceramics at the Erskine, Hall and Coe Gallery. I managed to walk up and down the whole of the Royal Arcade in each direction before I clocked that the gallery is on the first floor – with a fantastic view down the arcade once you get inside. And some fantastic ceramics on display.
Shozo Michikawa was born in Hokkaido and studied economics at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, going on to a career in business. But evening classes awoke a passion for pottery and he moved to Seto in Aichi Prefecture at the end of the 1970s. The Seto area is one of the six ancient kilns of Japan, where they’ve been producing pottery for over 1300 years. Perhaps his late start gives him a different approach to other potters in the region, whose families have been potters for generations. It might account for his being nicknamed ‘Hurry Potter’ because of the speed at which he works.
His works have also been called haikus in clay and an expression of wabi sabi, which is hard to explain but has been described as ‘the mellow beauty that time and care impart to materials’. Michikawa says of his approach, ‘my partner is nature itself and I need to get along well with it otherwise the result will be unsatisfactory. All I do in the process is to give a little helping hand to the ever transforming clay to assist the way it wants to go.’
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.
He has a reverential attitude to nature, venerating rocks, trees and the earth from which the clay is mined, a veneration that is reflected in the natural beauty of his pots.
The pots look wonderful in the pure white setting of the gallery, or seen against the background of the Royal Arcade.
Some pots are set off by ikebana arrangements, made by ikebana master Koho Wada.
There is a wonderful warmth in the pots that retain the deep orange glow of the clay.
And a spare monochrome beauty in the glazed works.
I particularly loved this one that looks as though it has grown organically, like moss or fungus.
And this one, which looks good enough to eat.
An awful lot of the works have already been sold, and I’m not in the least surprised. I wouldn’t mind having one myself, if any of you are casting around for a good Christmas present to buy me. Prices range from around a thousand to seven thousand pounds.
The exhibition continues until 28th November. It’s open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm.