Tuesday 25 November 2008

Matching Colors

Red to Yellow; Ilex with red berries, Gerbera and Ranunculus.

Yellow to Red - Gerbera and Ranunculus with a branch of Siberian Dogwood.

Orange; Ilex, Gerbera and Ranunculus.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Simplifying Things

A branch from the garden, an orange Gerbera, and a Bergenia leaf.

Use only as much as you need - nothing more. That's the secret of ikebana. It could also be a way of living if you wish. Not as easy as it sounds. These are really simplified arrangements with not a leaf that isn't necessary. At least that is what I have aimed for.

Gerbera and Berberis in a simplistic vase.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Winter Visions

The first snow fell down on Oslo a couple of weeks ago. It's all gone now, but it still means winter time in the ikebana studio. I'm posting a couple of pictures of arrangements in a style with long traditions in ikebana history. All the focus is on the single Shin branch or line that stretches visionary towards the sky. The last arrangement, which has has a double Shin line, is a variety of the same type of arrangement.

Ornithoglaum and some green stuff in a boat container

Snowberries (Symphoricarpos) and some more of the green stuff

Ornithogalum with a dry leaf and green plant material.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Tea Flowers

Here is my Chabana arrangement from the ikebana class at the Japanese tea house. Two kinds of grass, a Bergenia leaf and some humble autumn flowers.

There should always be two lines in a chabana arrangement, one for the tea master and one for the guest. In this case the high grass and the Bergenia leaf represents those lines.

Tea for Three

My Ikebana teacher invited us students to experience a tea ceremony. So we went on an excursion to the only proper Japanese tea house in Norway. It's a small tea house with room for three guests only. The pictures aren't that good. I'm posting some anyway to give you an impression.

A Chabana (tea flowers) class was part of the program.

It went dark while we were at the tea house, so you can barely see the tea master. It's his hand taking tea with a ladle from the tea kettle. Click the pictures to see the whole photo set at Flickr.com.

Saturday 8 November 2008

Kiku and Kawana in the Big Apple

If you're in New York before November 16th you must visit the 2008 Kiku (Japanese Chrysanthemum) Flower Show at The New York Botanical Garden.

This years exhibition features a new bamboo installation by Tetsunori Kawana, installation artist and master teacher of Sogetsu ikebana. His work is closely related to the bamboo installations of the late Hiroshi Teshigahara, third iemoto of the Sogetsu school. For the installation at the Botanical Garden Kawana uses 300 pieces of 8 meter long madake bamboo. More than 30 volunteers helped assembling bamboo for the monumental installation. Kawana says he imagined a bamboo forest in the autumn mist while working on the sketshes. If you visit you can walk under the mist and experience the installation.

Tetsunori Kawana is also giving ikebana classes in The New York Botanical Garden in Januar. That would have been something! I'm arriving in New York the day after the last day of his class. What have I done to deserve this?

Flower Obsession

I recently visited Museum Boijmans in Rotterdam to see their retrospective exhibition with works by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Among the works were the video "Flower Obsession Gerbera" from 1999.

The obsessions of Kusama is in a way the opposite of the less is more spirit of ikebana. Still, I guess ikebana can also become an obsession [Obsession: an endless repetition of personal rituals to keep chaos on distance]. I know Kusama uses the repetitiv techniques in her own art to keep insanity away. Since I came directly from a kado program by Shambhala Rotterdam to this exhibition and my head was full of flowers, I kind of felt that Kusama was teasing me by pushing Gerberas down the neck of her clothes, and finally popping a single Gerbera in her mouth. Obsessed or just playing around - who is who?

The Martial Way and the Way of Flowers

What is the realtion between martial arts and ikebana? I came across an fascinating article on the net by Dave Lowry, author of several books on budo and other martial arts. In his article To Blossom and Scatter Lowry looks into the way of flowers from the perspective of a budo practitioner.

I'll give you a few quotes to get an idea of the contents:

"It is important to understand that the practitioner of ikeabana no more seeks in his art to make a 'pretty bouquet' than the budoka seeks to learn 'self defense.' While both of these are byproducts of the study of these disciplines, the goal of the budo and of ikebana are consistent with the goals of all Japanese Do forms. They are pursued as a Way of life."

"There is in ikebana as well as in the martial Ways, a struggle for unity and harmony of elemets, for the interplay of hard and soft, for a moment of spontaneous creation based upon the foundation of a fixed form."

"Mono no aware, the 'recognition of life's impermanence,' is one of numerous terms in Japanese cultural thought that denote a deep appreciation of how wonderfully precious life comes to be when we come honestly face to face with its brevity."

Quotes from To Blossom and Scatter... The Martial Way & the Way of Flowers by Dave Lowry, published in Michi Online Journal of Japanese Cultural Arts.

There are also other articles on ikebana in their archives - have a look! Unfortunately it seems that they stopped publishing in the year 2000.

This much I have learned; the blossom
that fades away, its color unseen,
is the flower of the heart
of one who lives in this world.
(From Kokin Shu)
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