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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