Sunday, 9 September 2018

Hello all,

The picture, above, is of Ramada Eco Beach Resort in Western Australia, where Sam and I, together with Vicky and Peter went for some much needed rest and relaxation. It is 130 k south of Broome with views of the Indian Ocean. The attraction for us was its remoteness - there were times we were the only people on the beach.

The resort is set amongst the pristine Kimberley environment with board walks between the villas to protect the
vegetation, which grows on what appears to be pure sand. I managed to photograph a couple of the ones that interested me most.

Green birdflower (Crotalaria cunninghamii) The sap from the leaves was used by
Aboriginal people to treat eye  infections
The seed pods of the same plant. They look a lot like peas. When I split one, it had
tiny seeds inside.

This straggly looking shrub is a Bauhinia cunninghamii, which produces
clusters of red flowers
Close-up of the flowers, which attract honey eaters

The photograph, above, is of the the beach at low tide, with Vicky in the foreground and me behind.

Unfortunately, 2 seconds after this picture was taken, I slipped as I was getting off the rock I was standing on and fell, causing quite a few injuries. This is when the remoteness of a location can be a disadvantage because I needed to get to a hospital quickly, as I had head injuries among others. The Flying Doctors Service was considered but could not be used because the runway at the resort has no lights and it was getting close to dusk. Long-story-short - We waited 2.5 hours for an ambulance to arrive, which then took 1.5 hours to get me and Sam to the Broome hospital. There, I was seen, my head was bandaged and was told to return the next day for X-rays because the radiologists don't work after 5.00 pm. And, no, the hospital does not have an MRI machine. This was a salient reminder of the things we take for granted living in a metropolis.

After five days in Broome with visits to the hospital and little else, we left for home via Perth, where we spent a night and a day. Here, things looked up a little - the Westin Hotel we stayed in is brand new, beautifully appointed and full of art works by various Australian artists. Also, it happened to be at the time that the Kings Park Festival was on and I was not going to miss it. So, drugged up to the hilt with pain killers, I set out with my poor, long suffering husband to visit the park. And we were so glad we did. It was a gloriously sunny, spring day with many activities and things to see.

One great attraction is the giant Boab 'Gija Jumulu', which had to be removed from its original position in Warmun due to works on the Great Northern Highway and was transported to Kings Park, 3,200 kilometres way. The tree is estimated to be 750 years old, weighs 36 tonnes and stretches 14 metres high.

The first photograph is of the tree in its original position and the second of its new position in the park.

Western Australia has the world's largest collection of wild flowers but, to see them, one has to travel great distances. However, there are some stunning, albeit smaller, plantings around Kings Park and Botanic Gardens.

Pink paper daisies making quite a show when mass planted

Below are photos of just a few of the colourful costumes and characters wondering around the park and entertaining young and old.

This 'Kangaroo Paw' was my favourite
As this is an Ikebana blog, I should include at least one arrangement. I have my friend Olga to thank for this wall arrangement because she pruned her Siberian dogwood and rang to tell me I could have the cuttings. Bless her!

Siberian dogwood, clivias and alstroemeria psittacina leaves
As for my health, I should be right in a few weeks. In the mean time, I'm told I have to be very careful and patient. I will try!

Bye for now,

Friday, 31 August 2018

Well, the seed has been sown! Hermione made this arrangement all on her own,
after asking permission from daddy to cut some of his flowers.

Hello all,

This time of year the arum lilies are in abundance in my garden. I allow many of them to grow naturally but others I curve as they grow. I like using the curved ones in this container but, without any access to the inside, it takes some serious mechanics to make the stems stay where I want them.

I was asked, recently, to make an arrangement for the table in the room where a book was to be launched. The book, below, called 'Meet Japan' was written by John Urquhart.

This is a small quote from the back cover - 'Meet Japan gives an insight into the country's deeply spiritual relationship with nature, its beauty, the evolution of its "food life" and culture, and explores the soul of this fascinating country.'

John's friend, Margaret Clarke approached me with this request and gave me some information regarding the launch. She sent me a photograph of a screen, painted by John's wife, Lois, which was to be placed on the table with the arrangement.

I decided on a naturalistic arrangement to fit in with the screen. This is an example of the lesson from Book 5 - 'Arrangement complementing an Art piece'

The arrangement photographed at home
Pine, strelitzias and nandina berries
The arrangement in situ - I wanted it to continue the scene on the screen

Our recent Sogetsu workshop was run by Elizabeth Angell, the theme for which was 'Create your own surface from plant materials'.

I came across some cuttings of 'book leaf pine' and thought it would be ideal for this exercise, as it has a very flat form. I made the arrangement, below, at the workshop, which addressed the exercise well enough. That is, the stems created surfaces as did the leaves at the end of the stems. However, as an arrangement, it did not please me.

Back home, I reworked the material in a different container and was much happier with it.

Second version
And here's another example of reworking the material-
The first one was a demonstration piece for the Box Hill Floral Art Group and the second is a bit of fun for me. I call it 'Scorpion'.

My student, Dianne, left me some juvenile eucalyptus branches after class, which I used to make this table arrangement, into which I added 2 arum lilies.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Hello all,
The photographs, above, are an example of 're-using the material'. In the first I used spear grass whilst fresh and green. I used soft green wire in a loose weaving method to create the shape. I placed it in front of a glass container and used the nerines to complete this light arrangement.

When the spear grass dried and became quite dull in colour, I sprayed it black and used it in the wall arrangement with the 'Altissimo' rose.

I posted the photograph, above, in my previous blog, as one of my demonstration pieces for the Box Hill Floral Art group. I'm using it again here because I want to show you the different stages of the 'swan plant' (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) that is in the arrangement.

Initially it's like a little inflatable balloon
As it starts to open to release the seeds

The seeds are almost free

This is when it gets messy with the silky hairs on
each seed which aid in dispersal by wind.

In our last class the theme was 'Composition Expressing a Movement'. We really enjoy this exercise.

Aurelia Dong - 'Talking'

Brdenia Raquel - 'Greeting'
Monstera Deliciosa leaves and jonquils

Lucy Papas - 'Attacking'
Siberian dogwood stems and banksia bud

Vicky Kalokathis - 'Tickling'
Alstroemeria psittacina leaves and dried Japanese anemone stalks

This is mine and it represents 'pouring'. I did post this in the last blog, also, but I was
extremely time poor this past week and my students had not seen it, so I felt I could
be forgiven for using it.

The 'container' for the arrangement, below, is a towel rail that was brought to our house by my son, to be picked up by my son-in-law to use in his home. However, the 'bits' needed to attach it to the wall were lost, so the item was abandoned on the floor inside our front door. So, I found a use for it. I siliconed the inside to make it water tight and created this table arrangement with Acacia aphylla and strelitzia.

Bye for now,

Monday, 6 August 2018

Hello all,
I made the arrangement, above, for our recent Ikebana International workshop, which was run by the head of the Ikenobo school, Yukako Braun. This was to b a Free Style workshop exploring the principles of shapes. In the Sogetsu curriculum we have a similar lesson - 'Repeating Similar Forms and Shapes'. Over the many years of practicing and teaching ikebana, I have used every geometrical shape at least once, so I was looking for something different. I was pleased with the shapes that I made with the bamboo and I finished it with nandina domestica nana.

Ukako sensei approved of the arrangement but felt it needed a flower. According to ikenobo philosophy, it is not ikebana if it does not have a flower. If I had brought one with me, I would have put it in the arrangement for the purposes of the workshop. However, according to Sogetsu philosophy and, in particular, according to Kawana sensei, a flower in this case would be superfluous and considered a 'decoration'. I'm fascinated by the differences between our two schools. For more photographs of the workshop and, in particular, of the arrangements made by Ukako sensei and her students, please go to II Melbourne, where you will also see photos of our recent exhibition in the lobby of the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins.

Below is my contribution to the exhibition. It came about when I found this 1.8 metres, stainless steel, mesh-like material. The challenge was to have this very heavy piece stand upright. I had the board and the idea of how to support it but not the tools. Enter my very clever brother-in-law, Peter! Having placed it very snugly into the slot that he made, I was then faced with creating a delicate balance by distributing the weight between the front and back to prevent it swaying forwards or backwards.

Last Thursday I had the privilege to do a one hour demonstration for the Box Hill Floral Art group. They called it their 'Friendship Day' and it was in aid of SHARE THE DIGNITY - "In the Bag" Christmas Appeal.

I have had a long and warm association with this group, having exhibited with them and having demonstrated for them a number of times. They are friendly and welcoming and an extremely receptive audience. With me, of course, was my stalwart assistant, Lucy. I had prepared and loaded into two cars the makings of ten arrangements plus one that was auctioned for the fundraiser. Lucy and I drove our respective cars and arrived at the venue, only to find that I had left my tool kit at home. So, my trusty assistant jumped in the car and went home to fetch it. What would I do without her!

After a sumptuous lunch provided by the members, I proceeded with the demonstration, which went off without a hitch.

A naturalistic arrangement using two types of camellias in a
ceramic container with a wisteria handle
An example of 'Fresh and Unconventional Materials'
Mother-in-law tongues, strelitzia and polystyrene

An example of the lesson in Book 5 - 'Complementing an Art Work'. My Art pieces are brass macaque monkeys, which I bought in
Japan. I see the larger one as a protective parent over the baby. My Siberian dogwood branches and arum lilies curve around
the sculptures in a similar protective way.

An example of the lesson in Book 5 - 'Glass Containers'. The decanter has a red
stripe down the centre, which I tried to repeat with the Siberian dogwood. I added
nandina berries and night jasmine berries

An example of 'Repeating Similar Forms and Shapes - 'Umbrella grass stems,
clivias and alstroemeria psittacinna leaves

Another 'Fresh and Unconventional Materials'
Aluminium lattice and umbrella grass in ceramic container

Another example from Book 5 - 'Composition Expressing a Movement'. In this case 'Pouring'
I had a lot of fun with this arrangement. My cousin, Nieves gave me  this vase, which
was clear but I sprayed it white because I wanted to conceal the interior. I found a stand,
which could hold it up and added dietes leaves to give the illusion of pouring liquid

The  flowers in this leafless wattle (acacia aphylla) look like little
jewels. I used jonquils for mass in this self made container.

'Miniatures' is also a lesson in Book 5 and is, usually, very popular. I, certainly,
love making them.
And, finally, a Christmas arrangement. I know it's out of season but it will be upon us
in no time. I found the pine after a particularly windy day that brought down some
large branches from a tree in my neighbourhood. In the demonstration I had used
white magnolias but they did not survive the trip home, so I replaced them with arum
lilies. I used nandina berries, a glass snow flake and mizuhiki

Bye for now,

Friday, 20 July 2018

My grandchildren, Xavier and Hermione (both 6) after their first ikebana lesson. They were really proud of their work and couldn't wait to take it home. But they could not possibly be as proud as their grandmother.
Hello all,

Our Iemoto, Akana Teshigahara, has always encouraged teaching ikebana to children, perhaps because she was a kindergarten teacher before taking on the role of Iemoto. I would hope she would be pleased with the work that my grandchildren did.

The two photographs, below, are of an arrangement and a sketch of said arrangement by Guy Pasco. He was doing the lesson in Book 2 - 'Freestyle Arranging and Sketching'. Most ikebanist (me included) do a very rough sketch with this exercise but Guy, having studied fine arts has done a beautiful sketch.

Sadly for us, Guy has now left us but it was for the best of reasons. He has relocated up north where he was offered his dream job. We will miss him and wish him every success and happiness.

For a recent lesson I had set a theme from the Fifty Principles of Ikebana by Sofu Teshigahara, No. 31- 'Ikebana may be comparable to painting, music or sculpture'. Below are some examples.

I used agave leaves and strelitzia -
comparable to sculpture
Vicky Kalokathis used contorted hazel branches
with strelitzias - comparable to a painting

Lucy Papas used a palm spathe and
a cycad frond - comparable to sculpture

Nicole McDonald used willow stems and tulips - comparable to music

And now for some arrangements I did just for fun.

This next piece came about after I pruned my persimmon tree. I had one branch with three stems creating a dome shape. On its own it was too sparse to use, so I attached many other branches, more to one side than the other, thus maintaining asymmetry and added the green goddess to finish. I made the ceramic container many years ago. The design was inspired by the huge air conditioning pipes on the ceiling of the domestic terminal of the Sydney Airport.

I, absolutely, had to make an arrangement with the garrya eliptica while it is at its absolute best. The pale pink camellias (although they look white in the photo) went beautifully with the greeny-grey of the garrya. This container is also self made.

Japanese flowering quince and camellias - a match made in ikebana heaven!

The container for this little arrangement was a gift from the ladies in Wellington and I used echinops with squiggly grass that repeats the spiral on the container.

And one more thing, the Ikebana International Annual Exhibition will be on next week. The details are:

Lobby Gallery, Level 1
25 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tuesday 24th to Sunday 29th July, 2018

Bye for now,