Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Since the beginning of June, I've had the pleasure of my sister Lucy's company. She had just finished with the Sogetsu exhibition in Melbourne, celebrating the 50th Anniversary and arrived here for more ikebana as well as to experience life in Tokyo. Above is her exhibit in Federation Square. You can see the rest of the exhibits at SOGETSU SCHOOL OF IKEBANA VICTORIAN BRANCH INC.( Tetsunori Kawana sensei did a demonstration and conducted workshops for members. By all reports the celebrations were a resounding success and I was sorry to have missed out. Below is a photograph of Mr. Kawana's large demonstration at Deakin Edge.

 At his request, I would like to add here Mr. Kawwana's email address and webpage because there were some people at the workshops in Melbourne that requested it and he was not able to give it to them. They are as follows: and

I've had a lot happening in the last few weeks with classes (including private classes with Mr Kawana), Lucy's visit, the exhibition and, of course, socializing with my new friends before leaving. As a consequence of which, I've neglected the blog somewhat. Sorry!

To date, I have tried to write about events mostly in chronological order, however, I will now jump ahead a little to write about the exhibition because I've received inquiries from home as to how it went.

There were a number of constraints influencing my initial sketch, which had to be prepared at home and handed in after my arrival for approval by Iemoto. The information I received read as follows: 'Iemoto wants everybody to find interesting elements such as lines and colour in green. Of course, flowers and other materials may also be used but they are to be secondary'. We were, also, given the choice of an arrangement that is placed on a pedestal, one that is hanging or both. I chose to do both. I then had to pick materials that I was sure I would be able to find here and that would require few tools for construction. I came up with the idea of using only umbrella grass stems and emailed headquarters asking about their availability. The answer was 'yes'. So I created my arrangement at home, sketched it and packed the sketch to bring with me.

Feeling a little unsure and wanting reassurance, I asked the florist for a sample of the umbrella grass and what he brought me made my heart sink. They were very fine and small. He assured me that by June they would have grown but I was skeptical, so he suggested I use bulrushes instead and brought samples for me to see. These were lovely and long but thick at the bottom tapering to very thin at the top. This was not good but I had no other choice. The solution I found was to use only the middle part of each stem and to top and tail them creating an even width to the surface.

Everyone was entitled to an assistant and I was lucky to have Lucy here acting as mine. She was helpful in so many ways, including availing her hotel room for preparation of the bulrushes. There is no space in my apartment to lay out 2.5 metres of stems and work on them.

So, when the bulrushes were delivered at headquarters, Lucy and I picked them up after our class and headed home intending to take a taxi. Mr. Matsuda, a director at the school and Ms Takahira came with us to help us communicate with the driver but the bulrushes were too long for the taxi. However, we were not to be deterred so we took the subway. Anywhere else we would have raised some eyebrows trying to fit our very long parcel in the carriage but the Japanese are so inscrutable you would think this was a common occurrence.

Here is my 'beautiful assistant', Lucy 
Papas, cleaning bulrushes.

It gets harder and harder working on the floor!

I invite you to look at the view from the window
where I'm working.

Then, of course, we had to get to the Takashimaia department store from the employee's entrance, go through all the various securities, find my spot and set up. It was hard to stay focused with all the wonderful work around me and people wanting to have a chat. That's when Lucy's project managing skills came to the fore and kept reminding me to work whilst I talked. Bossy boots!

I was happy with the end result of my work but I still felt intimidated exhibiting amongst the Sogetsu elite. To my great pleasure, I received a lot of positive feedback including from several senior teachers, one of whom called it 'perfecto!' It was quite amusing to see, every time I went past my exhibit, that there was someone peering into it intently trying to figure out how it was done.

Two views of the final exhibit.

Here I am with Ms Akiko Takahira, of the Overseas Affairs  department, of whom I have become very fond and will write more about on another post 

And here I am with Yoichi Hinata sensei, a senior Sogetsu teacher, with his elegant arrangement, which sadly did not photograph well. I am very much indebted to this gentleman for his kindness and generosity towards me.

I leave you with Iemoto's stunning installation and invite you to look at the Exhibitions blog for the photographs of other exhibits.

Bye for now,


  1. I love your arrangement. So powerful. Best, Michael

  2. Wow, I love your arrangement, great lines.