Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Moribana, Variation no. 2, slanting,
Taxus, Roses Gypsophila, tinsel.

With this peaceful and traditional ikebana I'd like to wish all of my ikebana friends around the world

a Joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

• ~

Monday, 17 December 2012

Golden Lining

Dried bamboo, roses, fabric with gold threads, pine, Christmas balls.

Christmas is getting nearer. As every year my teacher prepared a Christmas themed workshop in her studio to round of the year. This is one of the ikebana arrangements from there. The idea was to use tall Anthurium, but I just couldn't get any. You don't get the same movement with roses but it works in a way. Anyhow I hope it brings some inspiration for your own Christmas ikebana. What is it going to be this year?

Friday, 7 December 2012

Fresh Snow for Christmas

Mass arrangement. Gypsophila, red roses, red tinsel, Taxus.

It's a bit early for Christmas ikebana, but I know that many people have started their Christmas preparations and are looking for ideas. Why not try a simple mass arrangement with a lot of snowy feeling to it? If you like you can add a line as a contrast to the mass. In this case I think the room between the vases is enough to create the needed contrast. I also don't want too many materials since that often makes the arrangement less peaceful.

Red, white and green are the Christmas colours also in ikebana. Add a little glitter for a more festive feeling - and there you are! Interestingly enough, Japanese ikebana artists tend to use more sparkle and bling in their Christmas arrangements than Westerners do. Maybe it comes from being more minimalist the rest of the year and needing to let loose for Christmas? Who knows?

Thursday, 6 December 2012

After the Typhoon - Hong Kong Sogetsu Exhibition

I regularly browse YouTube for interesting ikebana related videos. Recently I came across this video documentation of the latest exhibition with the Hong Kong Branch of Sogetsu Teachers' Association. The exhibition was held in November and was titled "After The Typhoon". 

It's a quite long amateur video, but it gives you a nice opportunity to explore this great exhibition. I especially like the avant-garde arrangement with tree trunks and branches flying in the storm and the large bamboo construction work. There are several other really nice arrangements too. Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Informal - Old Roof Tile

Chabana, Snowberry, Wax flower and leaf. Old roof tile.

Imperfection is more beautiful than flawlessness. I guess this informal chabana is quite unusual. There is no proper vase, just some simple flowers growing out of an old roof tile.

Chabana brings the season into the tea room. Being closely related to the tea ceremony, chabana is also a reflection of the four principles of the tea ceremony:

Wa - Harmony between people and in relation to nature.
Kei - Respect and gratefulness for all things that are.
Sei - Purity and simplicity, to get rid of what is not needed.

Observing wa, kei and see gives you jaku - a situation of tranquility and spiritual rest.

Studying chabana is studying zen. And practicing chabana is an exercise in awareness for body and soul finding inner peace.

Follow this link for a series of photos showing the different grades of formality in chabana.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Semiformal - In the moment

When choosing materials for chabana use flowers that "speak to you" in the moment. Put everything aside and be prepared to meet beauty in unexpected places. Then use the opportunity to create something from what you discover.

Chabana, Lythrum salicaria/Purple loosestrife?, Red clover, Marigold.

The glazed pottery vase makes this an semiformal chabana. As you can see I have chosen to use two old wooden planks for dai, instead of the prescribed lacquered board. In many situations such expressions of creativity are appreciated, as long as the change is adding to a harmonious whole.

In chabana no props are used to keep the flowers in place. You can use a stick in the opening of the vase if it's necessary, but absolutely no kenzan. Ideally you visualize the chabana as you pick your flowers in the garden. That way you don't cut any material that you won't need. Then you very quickly trim and arrange them directly in your hand to get a simple and natural look. The flowers are ready to be placed in the vase, and that's it. After they have been placed in the vase they are not to be altered in any way. It sounds simple, but to get a good result you have to practice a lot. It's all in the details and in being in the moment. As in all Japanese art forms the many years of working and practicing is what pays off.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Flowers for Formal Tea

Chabana, or tea flowers, is an integrated element of the Japanese tea ceremony. Chabana is a spontaneous type of flower arrangement, naturalistic and extremely simplistic. It's not even called an arrangement - the ideal is a natural "undesigned" look. On the one hand there are no rules for how to place the flowers. They are presented the way they grow in the nature and in a way that highlights their natural characteristics. On the other hand the chabana must always be in harmony with the tea ceremony as a whole and must therefore follow the season and the occasion of the ceremony.

Maple leaves is a beloved symbol of autumn in Japan. In this chabana I have chosen a single, rather tall branch and displayed it in a traditional metal vase. The idea is to show the natural beauty of the slanting maple branch and its fiery red leaves. Chabana with branches are most often smaller in size, so this is one is somewhat uncommon. Also, when arranging maple leaves the most popular way of showing off the leaves is to group them in a mass to get a strong colour effect. 

Chabana, ishu-ike, Japanese Maple.

Basically there are three levels of formality in tea ceremony; formal, semiformal, and informal or shin, gyo and so. A tea master has many sets of utensils and equipments, so that there is always a set that suits the level of formality and the season. There are also variations in the way the ceremony is performed. The chado blog SweetPersimmon has a short and informative article about this that you can read on this link.

According to the book "The Art of Chabana: Flowers for the Tea Ceremony" by Henry Mittwer, the vases and boards (dai) that the vases are placed on can be classified by grade of formality in the following way:

Shin: Bronze vases and Chinese or other porcelainware. Lacquered black board with the edges routed in a V-shape.
Gyo: Glazed pottery. Lacquered baord wtih the edges tapered to a point.
So: Unglazed or semiglazed pottery and basketware. Unfinished cedar or paulownia wood (wet with water to make it appear fresh), or a round board with tapered edge.

All vases should be without decoration. Containers made from bamboo stalk are considered either gyo or so.

"The Art of Chabana: Flowers for the Tea Ceremony"
by Henry Mittwer
Tuttle; 1st edition 1974
ISBN: 0804811113

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Yukio Nakagawa - Hana Gurui & Ondes Oniriques

From the start of land art it has been an art form related to conceptual art, and in some cases also to installation and performance. Some argues that land art is the correct term for conceptual art that is created outdoors, while installation art is it's indoor equivalent. Labeling things can be interesting, but the crossing of borders and combining of different expressions often makes it difficult and not so fruitful.

The Japanese ikebana artist Yukio Nakagawa has been an influential exponent for an experimental approach to art. Nakagawa was born in 1918 and died earlier this year. Starting out as a traditional ikebana artist of the Ikenobo school, in 1950 Nakagawa joined the non-conformist ikebana research group Byakutosha organized by landscape architect Mirei Shigemori. Since 1956 he's been working independently, developing his avant-garde and revolutionary approach to flowers.

For this blogpost I've chosen two of Yukio Nakagawa's later works that are related to ikebana, land art, installation and performance: His 2002 outdoor performance Hana Gurui [Flower Crazy], a collaboration with Butoh legend Kazuo Ohno. And Ondes oniriques, a 2003 installation at Maison Hermès in Tokyo. In both these works Nakagawa uses an overwhelming amount of flower petals - apart from that they are quite different works.

The performance Hana Gurui took place on the Shinano riverbed in Niigata prefecture and was documented in the 2002 movie An Offering To Heaven. 95 year old dancer Kazuo Ohno sits in a chair in the open air while a helicopter flies overhead and drops half a million flower petals down over him. The wheelchair bound man is dancing in his chair under the swirling shower of petals in the rain.

Photo courtesy unknown
Is Hana Gurui land art? Not if the term is limited to site specific works made from natural materials found on the location. Neither is it proper ikebana - the arranging of the flowers in this work is far too random. How would you label this work? Maybe it's an outdoor flower performance informed by land art and ikebana?

In the other work, Ondes oniriques (2003) [Dreamlike Waves], Yukio Nakagawa arranged 700 kilos of stemless lavender blossoms, some of which he died in cobalt blue, in swirls and waves reminiscent of a zen garden. Nakagawa says he wanted to represent its depth rather than its superficial beauty, and offer the gentle invitation of its fragrance. Visitors at the Maison Hermès exhibition were allowed to interact with the installation by throwing the flowers as they wished.

I wouldn't call Ondes oniriques a site specific work. Nakagawa explains that it's more a reconstruction of his feelings when he experienced a lavender field in France. One could argue that this is an example of land art in an exhibition gallery, representing a nature phenomenon. But how is this ikebana? Ikebana is a meditative and intuitive art form, but it is also about philosophy and skills passed down through tradition. In my opinion too little has been done to analyze contemporary ikebana works from an ikebana perspective. Or maybe I just haven't looked in the right places. What is your opinion?

Photo courtesy Hermès Japon Co, via
"I would like to express the lives of flowers" (Yukio Nakagawa)

Read the exhibition words by the artist at Maison Hermès
See more photos of Ondes oniriques on designboom.

Read more about the artist on the official website of Yukio Nakagawa.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Architecture Students Experiment

A group of students at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa School of Architecture recently went through a course in Sogetsu ikebana"Being able to compose things, different arrangements and elements - that really relates to form making in architecture as well as ikebana", says Graham Hart, a teaching assistant and graduate student. The connection between architecture and ikebana was immediately apparent to both students and their instructors.

Read the article Architecture students experiment in ikebana on the website of The University of Hawai'i.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Bilberry Intertwined

Bilberry branches and Snowberry. Nageire, abstract free style, intertwining.

First snow
on the half-finished bridge

Haiku by Basho

Sunday, 18 November 2012

International Klein Blue

Today I went to MAMAC Nice to see the exhibition Klein Byars Kapoor, featuring blue works by Yves Klein, white works by James Lee Byars and red works by Anish Kapoor. The exhibition was powerful and subtile, and it worked great in the exhibition halls. So now I'm really fascinated by Klein's patented indigo blue colour IKB, International Klein Blue. These are three smaller works that I'd like to share with you:

Natural Sponge 
Tree Branches 
Iron Wire

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Patrick Dougherty - Twisted Logic

My journey exploring the relation between Land art and Ikebana has taken me to New Jersey's Grounds for Sculpture and Patrick Dougherty's 2004 installation Twisted Logic.

Dougherty is known for working with sticks creating outdoors sculptures that relates to the environment. So why have I chosen a show with works in an exhibition hall? First, this show relates to the building structure of the exhibition hall in much the same way as Dougherty's outdoor sculptures are in dialog with the environment, which is interesting. The only difference being that this installation works with the surroundings from an indoor position. But the main reason why I choose this installation is that it consists of a group of works with quite different characters, making it easier to discuss similarities and differences between Dougherty's work and land art ikebana.

In my opinion the first sculpture shown in the video has quite a lot of ikebana quality to it. The difference between this work and the tower like sculpture in the middle of the exhibition hall is striking. Although they are both structures that invites you to explore and come inside, the first one refers more to natural forms while the last one is clearly architectural in its structure.

Dougherty has named his way of working "natural architecture", comparing it to human architecture, bird nests, and his own playing and building with sticks as a child. It's an example of how many land art artists deals with man made phenomena, like technology and architecture. I'm thinking maybe one significant difference is that an ikebana artist would more likely chose to work with natural forms and phenomena? What do you think?

There are of course also inspiring similarities between Dougherty's work and contemporary ikebana. The most obvious is that he is working mainly with plant materials. But also his way of working the materials into intertwined structures is similar to ikebana techniques, the way he is working with space and maybe even more so his use of lines in the structures. Working with long naked branches of trees gives clear lines in the structure of the installations. Dougherty refers to the lines of the sticks as sweeping lines of pencil drawing. In ikebana clear lines are used to define space and create an asymmetric balance.

Holy Rope, photo: Tadahisa Sakurai
It would be interesting to know if Dougherty himself would relate his work to Japanese esthetics. He's been working in many countries and cultures. During a residency in Japan in 1992 (quite early in his career) he stayed in Riniyo-in Temple in Chiba, where he created three large site works. The one in this picture is named Holy Rope, made from bamboo and reeds (7.6m x 3m). Isn't this sculpture also quite interesting from an ikebana perspective?

And now for some more goodies on "Twisted Logic":

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Abstract Interludium

Gladiolus leaves and Gerbera.
Moribana, abstract free style, straight lines, surface leaves.
Swedish midcentury ceramics by Rörstrand Atelje.

Behind Ise Shrine
unseen, hidden by the fence
Buddha enters nirvana

Haiku by Matsuo Bashô, 1644-1694

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Munich - Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974

Right now and until end of January the exhibition Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 can be seen at Munich based museum Haus der Kunst. This first large-scale, historical-thematic exhibition to deal broadly with Land art, is organized in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, MOCA.

"The exhibition highlights the early years of untested artistic experimentations and concludes in the mid-1970s before Land art becomes a fully institutionalized category. Rather than romanticizing notions of "return to nature" or an "escape from culture", the exhibition provides a comprehensive overview that reveals the complexity of the movement's social and political engagement with the historical conditions of its time. Ends of the Earth exposes Land art as a media practice as much as a sculptural one, focusing on the extent to which language, photography, film, and television served as an integral and not a secondary or supplementary part of its formation."
Among the artists presented is the Japanese artist Tatsuo Kawaguchi, b. 1940, based in Kurashiki, Okayama. He is represented with the two film works Land and sea, 1970, 4:14 min, and Location, 1960, 7:23 min, focusing on the meeting point of water and land. Kawaguchi was a founding member of the Japanese artist collective Group "i", included in the exhibition with the work Hole, 1965.

The exhibition runs 11.10.12 – 20.01.13.

An extensive 264 pages hard cover exhibition catalogue can be bought on Amazon.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Land Art - Keita Kawasaki

I'm planning to do some research on ikebana artists who are approaching land art from an ikebana tradition. If you like you're welcome to join me on this educational trip. I'll also swing by some well known land art artists who's works can be seen as similar or related to land art ikebana.

First stop is the Japanese flower artist Keita Kawasaki. He's a well known personality in Japan and has been working creatively with flowers for more than 20 years. The Kawasaki family runs the Mami Flower Design School, founded in 1962 by Mami Kawasaki.

Although also working with ikebana, Keita Kawasaki is definitely not a traditional ikebana artist. I would say he is merging Japanese and western flower design, keeping a clearly Japanese attitude to flower art. The inheritance from ikebana tradition is obvious also in his land art projects. I have chosen two works that I like. The first is a very delicate work with spiderweb, yellow and orange autumn leaves and what looks like parts of flower buds or small berries. From an ikebana perspective I would say this is a line and mass arrangement. It also relates to hanging ikebana, which is an old traditional category of ikebana. The use of spiderweb is similar to the use of mesh and other untraditional materials in modern ikebana.

The second work that I have chosen is a work with bamboo forest and yellow leaves. The leaves are glued to the bamboo trunks so that a zigzag pattern appears when you're standing in front of the work. The zigzag line emphasizes the straight lines of the bamboo forest and plays with the light in between the trunks. Bamboo is a traditional ikebana material that symbolizes strength of character. Working with lines and the space between lines is one of the main characteristics of ikebana. Classical ikebana made for the tokonoma is always designed to be seen from the front only.

To see more land art ikebana go to the website of Keita Kawasaki. Click on the beetle to enter. Then click the large leave to the right where it says "Works". Choose the category in Japanese to the right of "Natural art". Sit back and enjoy. You'll find a lot of inspirational photos here, and quite a few land art works.

Photo credit:

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Basket Finale

Modern basket ikebana. Bamboo sticks, Sun flowers, Gerbera, Gladiolus leaves.

This welcoming sunflower "gift basket" is another modern interpretation of the tradition of using bamboo baskets in ikebana. Note that in this mass and line arrangement the mass has been placed inside the transparent basket to emphasize the volume of the basket itself. The straight lines of the bamboo sticks are contrasted by the circular and curved lines of the flowers and the basket.

This will be the last posting in a series focusing on ikebana and Japanese baskets. I hope you have enjoyed the postings, and maybe learned something useful.

Friday, 2 November 2012

A Collection of Baskets

The museum of decorative arts and design in Oslo hosts a small collection of Japanese bamboo baskets. The 15 ikebana baskets dates from the period 1850-1900, and they are exhibited permanently in the downstairs stairwell area. I went there the other day to take some pictures and was surprised by the variety of the baskets.

Flower baskets were quite popular in this era of the Meiji Restoration, especially the formal style inspired by Chinese culture. The opening of Japan to the west made collecting Japanese items more accessible. Still only a few Europeans travelled to Japan at this time. When the Swedish woman Ida Trotzig moved to Japan 1888 to live with her husband who was a businessman, she was one of very few Westerners to study ikebana and Japanese culture. There is no information on where the basket collection at the museum in Oslo comes from. So I guess we're free to let the imagination loose and make up our own stories about how the collection ended up in Norway.

Which one of the baskets is your favorite? What kind of ikebana would you create in "your" basket if you got the chance?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Kaïdin - Nomadic Art on the Path of Bashô

The Museum of Asian Arts in Nice, France, invites you to follow the French Vietnamese artist Kaïdin on her nomadic wandering across Japan. Following the trail of Matsuo Bashô, the great master of haiku poetry, the artist Kaïdin began to listen to nature. Inspired by the haiku she creates art installations in the natural environment. 

Taking her time, the artist uses the space, setting and materials at her disposal: water, wood, earth, stones, sand, rock, etc. She neither adds nor subtracts anything, but adapts and transforms the nature. Like the extremely stripped form of haiku poetry her work is based on the brilliance of the moment to convey an emotion. With a direct reference to land art she seeks to link art and life.

The works are being presented through photographs by the renown photographer Uwe Ommer. There is also an exhibiton catalogue in French, Japanese and English that can be bought through Amazon.

The exhibition Nature et haïku - Quand le poème devient art éphémère will be up until January 7th 2013, so there is plenty of time to schedule a visit if you're planning a trip to Nice.

 The Arch, Koriyama, Lake Inawashiro, 2008.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Woven Chair Seat

Modern basket ikebana. Calla lily, pine and bamboo stick.

You'll find woven baskets and other objects in most cultures. By using and old cane chair seat as an ikebana basket this arrangement gives new life to a woven object from a western culture. Doing so it is honoring an old crafts tradition. At the same time this odd ikebana basket is suggesting a kinship of crafts around the world using plant materials for weaving. Life is full of new opportunities - and you always have to work with what you have.

The flowers in this ikebana are a bit heavy for the basket, but with the space created by the curved line of the bamboo stick there is enough volume to get a balance.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Basket - A Modern Approach

Contemporary ikebana always builds on centuries of traditions. References to tradition can be hidden or obvious. Some say that there are no rules in freestyle ikebana - you just do what you like. I would say creating modern ikebana is very much about respectfully playing with inherited esthetics.

Modern basket ikebana.
Snapdragon and lily leaves.
Nageire, freestyle, naturalistic, mass and curved lines, with two containers.

This modern interpretation of ikebana in a flower basket is drawing on the lightness and the volume of woven baskets. The lily leaves also refers to the weaving process as a meditative and time consuming work.

Light coloured baskets are used in the warm summer season, often together with pastel coloured flowers. I've used pink Snapdragon and a vase with light blue shades to refer to this tradition. At the same time the leaves are clearly marked by early autumn. To me this ikebana evokes the beauty and melancholy of a warm day of indian summer, slightly out of season and full of good memories.

Monday, 29 October 2012

A Basket Case

Japanese bamboo baskets have a long history and have been used for many different purposes in everyday life. From the 16th century bamboo baskets have also been valued for their beauty as objects related to ikebana and the tea ceremony. There are two main styles in basket weaving. The rather stoic, finely woven Chinese influenced karamono style reflects the formalism of the Confucianism, and presents a perfect symmetry in form and a regularity in their woven technique. The more loosely woven wagumi style baskets on the other side, are simple and unpretentious with forms inspired by utilitarian and rustic objects. This Japanese style is more related to wabi-sabi esthetics.

Traditional wagumi bamboo basket.
New Zealand flax and Gerbera.
Freestyle, vertical arrangement.

My ikebana teacher challenged me to make an arrangement in a beautiful wagumi basket, asking what style of ikebana I thought would fit this rather bold basket design. I made a vertical style autumn arrangement using New Zealand flax, white Chrysanthemum and field flowers.

I thought the somewhat withered leaves and the humble flowers looked rather good in the basket. Still I had to agree that the much more simple ikebana design that my teacher suggested, with just a couple of leaves and one kind of flower, draw more attention to the basket itself. I was quite surprised by the result. The lesson learned: When arranging in a wagumi style basket all the focus should be on the unique shape of the basket. The flowers are there to complement and draw attention to the basket as an artwork.

Autumn ikebana in bamboo basket.
New Zealand flax, Chrysanthemum, Tansy, Rumex longifolius.
Vertical arrangement.

Hanakago, flower baskets, were particularly popular in Japan in the late Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods, from around 1900 - 1950's. While Chinese influenced styles were the most popular in the late 1800's, the bold wagumi style flower basket epitomizes the free-wheeling styles prevelent at the turn of the century. Today good wagumi baskets are sold at quite high prices.

According to a website that I found, "wa (和) in wagumi means “peace” and “harmony”-the essence of the Japanese spirit-and hence stands as a symbol of Japan. Gumi (組) can be translated as “team,” and thus the name wagumi expresses collaboration founded on wa, the gentleness and warm-heartedness that can be found in nature, the land, human character, emotions, and other aspects of our world".

If you want to learn more about Japanese bamboo baskets I recommend these two illustrated articles:
Dana Micucci, Weawing Beauty: Japanese bamboo baskets hold their charm through the ages.
Jan Lee, Japanese Basket Art.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Leftover Ikebana

Moribana, naturalistic freestyle, mass and lines.
Sunflowers, Gerbera, and dried Salix.

Making something out of (almost) nothing is a fun exercise. When working with ikebana you get a lot of leftover flowers, either flowers that you didn't need for an arrangement or flowers that you rearrange in a new way. Leftover flowers makes easygoing arrangements that are heartwarming and unpretentious, like this autumn coloured greeting in my bathroom.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Land Art and Ikebana

Land Art and ikebana both acquires studying nature. It has been said that while ikebana is inspired by nature Land Art works nature. I'd say the difference is not that obvious anymore since modern ikebana has moved quite a bit in the direction of sculpture and Land Art.

A few years ago Stichting Kunstboek published a series of three photo books with ikebana arrangements by contemporary ikebana artists around the world. The second book titled Contemporary Ikebana (2008) presented group work with an emphasis on Land Art projects.

In the preface Mit Ingelaere-Brandt, Sogestu ikebana teacher from Belgium, elaborates on the relation between Land Art and ikebana, stating that change and the interaction between the work and its surroundings are essential aspects in the experience of landscape art. This requires studying nature very carefully with an observance similar to that of the ikebana artist.
"The freedom of expression and monumentality so typical for Land Art, and the disciplined delicacy of traditional ikebana, go hand in hand. By making very subtle changes in the surrounding nature, by accentuating, adding and taking away small elements, the character of the work is often changed and the impact of the piece can be altered dramatically. Shifting emphasis and minimal adjustments in the landscape manage to catch, for an instant, the ever wandering eye of the beholder. In this way ikebana leads to deeper, more spiritual and contemplative consideration and understanding of nature and life in general."
Mit Ingelaere-Brandt is an experienced ikebana teacher and has taken seminars with Sogetsu artist Tetsunori Kawana, Land Art artists Helen Escobedo (Mexico) and Bob Verschueren (Belgium), among others.

The book Contemporary Ikebana can roughly be divided in large–scale Land art compositions and smaller installations. It contents 200 photographs of nearly sixty Ikebana groups of thirteen nationalities.  It's a heavy coffee table book with nice photos and many inspiring works. The book can still be bought from Amazon. Note that the US edition has a different front cover.

Contemporary Ikebana
Introduction by Mit Ingelaere-Brandt
Stichting Kunstboek, 2008
ISBN: 9789058562692,  ISBN-13: 9789058562692

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Whimsical bamboo sculpture - Maymont Japanese Garden

This video gives another example of bamboo installation ikebana. You may also want to have a look at these earlier blog posts for a background on the subject:
Open-Air Calligraphy
Kawana in Moscow - Waterfall 2005
Five Elements: Water
Kawana Video NYC

"In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Maymont's Japanese Garden, artist Midori Tanimune and a group of Ikebana of Richmond volunteers created "Passages," a whimsical bamboo sculpture, in the garden. The temporary exhibit is on display September 21 through mid-October 2012. Tanimune is in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement. Sogetsu Ikebana use unconventional materials alongside fresh flowers, and follow a philosophy that arrangements can be created anytime, anywhere, by anyone in any part of the world and with any kind of material."

I also found this blog that gives a charming portrait of Midori Tanimune.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Invisible Ikebana - Utsurawa-ba

So-sen Imai and the concept Utsurawa-ba are back with a new performance at Bar Brim in Tokyo. This time with red autumn leaves and a clever "invisible" ikebana design. You have to look down into the ceramic vase to see the beautiful result.

I met So-sen in Tokyo earlier this year for a cup of coffee and a talk about his ikebana practice. In addition to working with performances together with other artists he is also teaching Ryuseiha ikebana. We had a good time exchanging experiences and walking the park of Meiji Shrine a very cold spring day.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Open-Air Calligraphy

Bamboo, chestnut tree branches, hemp rope and books are the materials used in this land art installation in the garden of Noailles Mediatheques in Cannes.

The exhibition called Open-Air Calligraphy is up until September 30th, featuring works by Cannes based artist Bernard Abril. Abril has been labeled an Arte Povera artist. "Using bamboo and creating life-size poetic configurations, Bernard Abril indirectly sets his sheer slender shapes in the landscape like calligraphic forms."

Bamboo and Calligraphy can be seen as references to eastern cultures. Bamboo has been used a lot in ikebana, both traditional and modern. Hiroshi Teshigahara, third iemoto of the Sogetsu School, was famous for his large installations made from split bamboo. After him, artists like Tetsunori Kawana have continued working in this tradition, often integrating his works in outdoor environments.

Exhibitions like Open-Air Calligraphy raises questions about the influences between different creative traditions, and about the identities of art forms. What if the artist behind this exhibition were a trained ikebana artist? Would you consider it ikebana?

Opening hours:
Noailles Mediatheques in Cannes
Garden open 7am-7pm (except Sundays and public holidays)
Free entry. Telephone: 04 97 06 44 90 

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