Wednesday 30 November 2011

Teachers Certificate

In June this year I had my first teacher's exam for the Sogetsu School of ikebana. Yesterday I finally got the certificate issued by the present iemoto (headmaster) Akane Teshigahara. What can I say - it was worth waiting for.

As you can see my new teachers name is Senju. I don't really know what it means, so if any of you that know Japanese have thoughts on the interpretation of the name I would appreciate a comment. Thanks!

Sunday 27 November 2011

Mass and Lines

Mass and lines.
Birch Witch's Broom, Gerbera, painted sticks, Bergenia leaves.

Very often the structure in modern ikebana is based on the balance between mass and lines. This way of working with sculptural free style ikebana takes the traditional styles a step further, reinterpreting the traditional use of main branches for the lines and a focus point or a weightier part at the base of the arrangement for the mass.

For these arrangements I've used Birch Witch's Broom as the main material of the mass, combining the messy twigs of the "broom" with soft textured and collorful Gerbera. I've never used Witch's Broom before, so that was an interesting experience. It's a quite fragile material and not that easy to arrange. On the bright side it has a lot of character and eye-catching texture.

Mass and lines.
Birch Witch's Broom, Gerbera, painted sticks, leaves.

Saturday 26 November 2011

Heaven, Earth and Man - A Mongolian Perspective

Heaven, earth and man are the main branches in all major ikebana schools. But it is also a philosophy of balance between the spiritual and the material, and a vision statement for mankind. The "heaven, earth and man" philosophy is a basic component also in Chinese culture and you will find it in Tibetan philosophy as well.

In this video Professor Bira, an 85 year old student of George Roerich, speaks about "heaven, earth and man" in Mongolian thinking, since ancient times depicted as three circles. He gives a modern interpretation naming the principals cosmos, planet and humankind, and explains how this came to be an international symbol of peace and the inspiration for "The Roerich Peace Banner".

Thursday 24 November 2011

The Poetry of Leaves

Working with large leaves last week, I revisited one of my favorite ikebana books: The Poetry of Leaves: Creative Ideas for Japanese Flower Arrangement by Norman J. Sparnon. I bought this 1970s book on eBay a couple of years ago and I love it. It contains 107 arrangements focusing on leaves in different ways, from very modern sculptural works to classical Narcissus and Aspidistra ikebana arrangements. Most of the pictures are black and white. On the second hand marked this is a quite expensive book. Mine is an ex-library copy, not as fun as a nice book from a private collection, but surely cheaper.

Norman Sparnon from Australia lived in Japan for 12 years where he studied both classical and modern ikebana. One of his teachers, Sofu Teshigahara of the Sogetsu School of ikebana, talked very highly of Mr Sparnon who for many years was considered the best-qualified master of Ikebana in the western world.

In the introduction Sparnon writhes:
"Harbingers of both spring and autumn, with their vivid colors and delicate patterns, leaves are one of the miracles of nature and are considered by the Japanese to be one of the major elements of flower arranging."

by Norman J. Sparnon
Walker/Weatherhill; 1st edition (1970)
ASIN: B0006C07HS

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Large Leaves

Leaves only.
Aralia and Aspidistra in a turquoise raku vase.

These leaves have been standing in a vase in my kitchen for a while. I almost thought they were spoiled when I finally got time to work with them today. Using a curved rake vase by my friend Brigitte Schneider to go with the wavy lines of the leaves. The Aralia leaves are actually collored, which I don't really like but it gives a nice contrast.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Believing in the Power of Flowers

Akane Teshigahara is celebrating her 10 years as iemoto of the Sogetsu School this year.  The 93rd Sogetsu Annual Exhibition "Believing in the Power of Flowers" closing earlier this week, was part of the 10 year celebration program. The photos from the exhibition are now published on the official Sogetsu website. Have a look and get inspired!

Sunday 6 November 2011

More Birch Bark

"After the storm"
Vertical arrangement. Mass and lines.
Sibirian Dogwood, Birch bark, Chrysanthemum.

Wild boars and all
are blown along with it --
storm-wind of fall!

(Haiku by Matsuo Basho, 1644-1694)
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