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,

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Hello all,

The photograph, above, is of Lucy's arrangement at our recent Sogetsu exhibition. It's hard to tell from the photo but it measures over 1.5 metres. I don't know the name of the branch material but Lucy had to use some serious mechanics to ensure it was perfectly balanced.

Last month I ran a workshop for the Victorian branch on the same theme as I did for the Christchurch group. That is, my method of wiring umbrella grass stems to create surfaces. This is something I developed over the years because I have an abundance of umbrella grass and because it lends itself to creating interesting geometrical shapes. I had prepared three examples and demonstrated the wiring technique. After that, the members were left to their own creativity. I have included my arrangements here, as well as those of two of my students. For all the photos of the group please go to Sogetsu Ikebana Victorian branch.

With a single stelitzia

With nandina domestica nana

Freestanding form with prunus mume (Japanesee flowering apricot)

My demonstration piece, completed at home, with the addition
of two pomegranates

Nicole McDonald

Dianne Longley, beginner

My student, Lei Wang's first freestyle arrangement
I recently had to prune back one of my loquat trees, providing the perfect opportunity for a class workshop using the branches. My two examples are below.

Loquat branches - using only one kind of material
Loquat leaves in glass vase with rose

Lucy Papas
Nicole McDonald
Vicky Kalokathis

I leave you with this photograph of my prunus mume in full bloom, which seems quite incongruous in this bleak winter weather. It's a beautiful, small tree that blooms in the middle of winter when there is very little else in the garden, apart for the trusty camellias. And its delightful fragrance is an added bonus.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Hello all,
The rather poor photograph, above, is of my exhibit at our recent  Sogetsu annual exhibition. Try as I might, I could not get a good photograph of this piece. The wisteria vine is resting on the floor but is also attached to the container that is hanging on the wall. The materials, which are placed in the container are nandina domestica nana, red and orange cotoneaster berries and dietes leaves. The whole structure is almost as tall as me. More and better pictures can be seen on our blog Sogetsu Victoria.

I'd like to go back to the New Zealand trip and include some pictures from the final workshop in Wellington, which was 'Composition Using Unconventional Material'. The first sentence in the book regarding this theme is - ' Use only non-plant materials to explore a composition which cannot be made in an ordinary arrangement of plants'. 

Once this exercise was completed and critiqued, fresh material was to be incorporated in it.

I brought with me a couple of easily transportable examples -

A stocking and wire sculpture to which I later
added the calla lilies

A book, which I folded into this sculptural design and to which I later added
dietes leaves

For my demonstration piece I went to a great deal of trouble to find paper that had one colour on one side and a different one on the other. Equipped with these, I proceeded to make cone shapes that I intended to join together using a stapler and double sided sticky tape. Unfortunately, my stapler fell apart at the very start of my demonstration and no one in the room had one to lend me. So I had to contend with the sticky tape, which was not quite strong enough to hold the weight of the structure. As a consequence, I ended up with a much smaller and less satisfactory piece.

Purple freesias were added to complete the piece.
And now for the members' arrangements-

Helen Wareham - plastic sheets
(Helen later added large leaves but, unfortunately, I don't have a photo of it)
Elizabeth McMillan - copper and ball
Later added dietes leaves

Sandi Hurnard - Metal mesh
Dietes leaves were added later
Maria Cullen - Metal pipes and plastic straws
Later added the anthurium
Adriana Nickless - Origami balls
Later added red carnations to the back
Julie Middleton - corrugated cardboard
Later added asparagus fern

This ends my New Zealand adventure and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the lovely ladies, both in Christchurch and Wellington, who welcome Lucy and me with such warmth and, who went out of their way to make our stay a pleasant one. We took away lasting memories. In a way I'm sorry I have finished writing about this trip because, by doing so, I've been reliving the experience. One particularly memorable hour, killing time before our flight home, was our drive around Wellington with Helen at the wheel. It's an exquisite city and everyone should see it.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Street art in beautiful Wellington
Hello all,

And now for Wellington - Breathtakingly, beautiful Wellington.

After leaving Christchurch, Lucy and I arrived in Wellington and were met at the airport by Helen Wareham, Director of Sogetsu Wellington. After dropping off our luggage at the hotel and a quick lunch together with Sandra Hurnard and Elizabeth McMillan, Helen drove us to the florist's wholesalers to select materials for the workshops.

Business out of the way, we were left to our own devices for the evening. We were put up at a lovely hotel facing the harbour and, after dinner, we decided to go exploring. It happened that we were there during the Lux Light Festival. What luck!

Quote from their website:

"LUX Light Festival is a free public light festival that turns Wellington into a captivating celebration of light, art, technology and design. The largest light festival in New Zealand, LUX showcases a fantastical array of light sculptures that wind their way throughout Wellington and Frank Kitts Park."

Unfortunately, light sculptures by their nature, don't photograph well, so I included only one, above.

And, now, for the workshops.
The themes for the three workshops were selected by Sogetsu Wellington, all of them from Book 5. The workshops were held at Lyon Room Home of Compassion, a spacious and bright venue with well kept gardens all around. They also provided a delicous catered lunch.

The Saturday morning theme was from Book 5, lesson 12 - 'Direct Fixing', where we make an arrangement in a nageire vase without using any mechanics other than bending and selecting branches that will balance on their own. My demonstration piece, below.

Those that finished early were asked to make a second arrangement using the same materials.

The theme for the second workshop was Book 5, lesson 20 - 'Complementing an Artwork' but had the added requirement of the artwork being black and white. In this exercise the artwork is to be incorporated into the work space.

In preparing for this workshop, I found it hard to find an artwork that was easily transportable and black and white. Eventually, I selected a washi paper scroll, which I bought in Tokyo last year but which is black and cream. Fortunately, this was an acceptable compromise for the group.

I used tortured willow to repeat the lines created by the brush strokes in the washi scroll and added calla lilies in a glass vase.

Kate Graham
Maria Cullen

Elizabeth McMillan

Helen Wareham

Kathy Kerry

Kathy Kerry

Adriana Nickless
Erris Thomson

Sandi Hurnard

Ronnie Creighton

Hesley Henderson
Julie Middleton
That evening we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner at the lovely home of Helen Wareham. The meal was prepared by her son Joe and, for serving, was assisted by her granddaughter.

I can't end this post without mentioning New Zealand's natural beauty. I'm afraid I don't have the words to do justice to it but I will say to those that have not visited, to do themselves a favour and go visit New Zealand. It is quite extraordinary. I would, however, recommend the warmer weather.

Bye for now,