Saturday, 22 April 2017

Part of the Australian contingent - (from the left) Elizabeth,I, Marilyn, Nancy, Kaye and Dianne

Ikebana International 11th World Convention - Okinawa.

So, where to begin? Firstly I have to express my gratitude to the organizers and volunteers, who have worked tirelessly for the smooth running of the Convention. It must have been a logistical nightmare. We are often guilty of noticing the little things that may not go according to plan but we simply take for granted all the things that go well, and forget the planning, thought and effort that was exerted by the organizers.

My arrival in Okinawa was anything but smooth but I won't bore you with my wowes, suffice it to say that I staggered into my hotel room at about 10.30pm lugging heavy suitcases and lamenting the absence of my husband.

For the 5 days of the convention, I woke up at 6.00, then to breakfast at 7.00 and to the shuttle bus at 8.10. Fortunately, there were a number of Australian colleagues with whom I kept company.

On the first day we set up our exhibition arrangements. Mine created some discussion because some people found it impressive and others wanted to know how I managed to create the shape. Also, they wanted to know what the material was that I used. I always thought of it as a 'Palm spathe'. However, I was told it is a leaf, not a spathe. So, with the help of Google I discovered that I was wrong and, in fact, what I used was the leaf.

I have to apologise in advance that I will only post photographs of the arrangements made by people I know, who gave me permission to do so. As is always the case, in the exhibition there were those arrangements that appealed to me and those that did not. I'll share one little anecdote with you - a number of us were walking through the various rooms with exhibits when we came across an arrangement we liked and said so. Its owner happened to be standing near and overheard. She smiled shyly and admitted that the arrangement was hers. We congratulated her on her work and introduced ourselves. Imagine my delight when she told me she already knew me and that she has been following my blog for some time. Her name is Larisa Sarycheva and she is from Moscow.
Larisa and I.
Below are some of the arrangements at the exhibition:

Mitsuko Nishiyama - Master instructor - Tokyo
(In her gorgeous Rosenthal Container)
Ken Katayama - Master Instructor - Tokyo

Christopher James - Director Sogetsu  School of Ikebana
Victorian Branch
Chieko Yazaki - II President Melbourne Chapter

Masae Ako - Sydney
Kaye Pearson - Brisbane

Elizabeth Angel - Melbourne
(Sorry about the poor quality of this photo)
And now for the demonstration. Things started out with a set-back when Robyn Unglik, who was to be my assistant, had to cancel her trip due to a family illness. But I was lucky that Eugenia Chudacek agreed to step in and she took the job very seriously. I arrived in Okinawa too late to attend a briefing for the demonstrators so Eugenia attended for me and took detailed notes. Also, I'd been ill in Tokyo prior to going to Okinawa, which left me somewhat scatterbrained. Whereas I'm normally well organised, I found myself forgetting things and making mistakes. This is where Eugenia came in and kept me to the schedule. I'm so grateful to her because I don't know how I would have managed without her.

I have a great deal of experience in demonstrating so I don't suffer nerves beforehand. However, knowing the size of my audience and the fact that at least two Sogetsu master instructors would be  there, did produce some butterflies. Then, to make matters worse, it was whispered to me that there was to be a surprise - three Imperial  princesses would also be attending - H.I.H. Princess Hitachi, H.I.H. Princess Takamado and Princess Ayako.

I'm happy (and relieved) to say that everything went like clockwork. Judging by the applause, the audience seemed to like my work.
My trusty assistant, Eugenia and I
There were two demonstrators on stage at the same time. Our first arrangement was made using the common material that was provided - bird's nest fern. Then we each did a free style. When we finished we were asked to line up in front of the stage to be greeted by their Imperial Highnesses. It was quite an unexpected honour to shake hands with Royalty.

My bird's nest fern arrangement
with allium
I wanted to use an Australian native material, hence this Acacia
aphyllla together with calla lilies

Once their Imperial  Highnesses left the auditorium, I was 'mobbed'. Seriously, there were so many people talking to me at once that I was bewildered. Among them was a reporter from an Okinawan newspaper whose first question to me was how old was I! He then wanted to know what I liked best in Okinawa. Sadly I could not answer having seen only my hotel and the convention centre.

During the rest of the convention I was constantly stopped by people telling me how much they enjoyed my demonstration and how confident I looked on stage. Little did they know that when I was doing some fine wiring, I whispered to Eugenia that my hands weren't working properly.

The most significant affirmation, however, came from Ken Katayama sensei and Kosa Nishiyama sensei, both master instructors of the Sogetsu school, who expressed approval of my demonstration.

Another highlight for me was meeting people who have been following my blog, as well as making new acquaintances with people from around the world.

At the Sayonara dinner with Kazuko Yano (committee member and former II Melbourne
chapter member), Elizabeth Angel, me, and Mrs Matsumoto, who very kindly lent me
three kenzans for my demonstration and exhibits.
Bye for now,

1 comment:

  1. Emily, thanks so much for sharing this with us and congratulations on your demonstration. I wish I could have seen it in person. I continue to enjoy your blog. Best wishes, Michael