Sunday 29 January 2012

Noguchi Ceramics - What Would Your Ikebana Be?

What would your ikebana be if you got a chance to arrange in Isamu Noguchi‘s iconic vase “Lonely Tower”? Wishful thinking, yet an inspirational challenge. I'm reposting these beautiful pictures via "The improvised life" blog: "Lonely Tower", Shigaraki stoneware with thin ash glaze, 1952.

Noguchi who was half Japanese came to Japan in the 1950s to discover his roots. Here he made some fantastic ceramics and got to know Sofu Teshigahara, headmaster of the Sogetsu School of ikebana, and his son Hiroshi Teshigahara. The friendship also resulted in a professional collaboration.

Here's what Sofu came up with when he got to create an ikebana in "Lonely Tower".

Dore Ashton comments on one example of the collaboration, Nogouchi's interior garden design in Sogestu plaza 1974, in the book Nogouchi East and West:

"Perhaps unconsciously, Nogouchi went so far as to echo Teshigahara's markedly expressionist temperament, using great slabs of rough-hewn granite that clash like temple cymbals and serve as foils for the ephemeral plant arrangements."

Thursday 26 January 2012

It's Snowing Again

Pine and Lisianthus

no sky
no land -- just
snow falling

Kajiwara Hashin (1864-?)

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Hiroshi Teshigahara Garden Design

It is commonly known that Hiroshi Teshigahara, the second iemoto of the Sogetsu School, was also a skilled and internationally renowned film maker. Not so many know that in the 1980s and 1990s he was also working in garden design. Hiroshi Teshigahara created a garden for the Ken Domon Photography Museum, in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture (northern Japan), and also several Japanese style gardens for exhibitions in Tokyo, Minneapolis and at the UNESCO Headquarters Piazza in Paris.

The garden at Ken Domon Photography Museum was featured in the 1992 documentary "Dream Window: Reflections on the Japanese garden". In this beautiful film director John Junkerman explores the tradition of Japanese gardens.

There are a few clips from this film on YouTube. I'm posting a sequence in which Hiroshi Teshigahara appears in an interview talking about his garden design (it's about 5 minutes into the clip). If you'd like to see more of this stunning movie the easiest way is to make a YouTube search. I've also seen it for sale as VCR, but I don't think it's available on DVD.

The film music is Toru Takemitsu's music for a Japanese moss garden. Takemitsu also made the film music to Hiroshi Teshigahara and Kobo Abe's extraordinary film collaborations in the mid-1960s.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Preassure and Creativity

Have you ever felt the pressure to come up with something interesting or artistic? It's a paradox that these feelings appear in the process of creating ikebana, trying to express simplicity and humbleness. Still they do appear. And - you're in good company when they do.

I found an interesting and personal interview with Akane Teshigahara, the present iemoto (headmaster) of the Sogetsu School, on the internet. The interview is from 2005. At that time she was in her 4th year of leading the Sogetsu imperium. I would think she still felt relatively new in the position. Many people compared her to her father Hiroshi Teshigahara, who held the leader position before her.
"As the headmaster, I must manage and guide the school as a whole. It is also my responsibility and duty to pass on the precise teachings of our ryugi to coming generations. Yet, simply abiding by the teaching of Sogetsu and handing down that tradition is not enough. Although the basic teachings are never to change, new ways and forms of expression through Ikebana must constantly be sought. In fact, it is embedded in the Sogetsu teachings that while utilizing the traditional, you must always seek something new. As simple as this may sound, it is very difficult to accomplish and at times I feel pressured. At the same time, when the people of Sogetsu agree with my new vision, come together, and work towards that one goal of a new creation, I feel a strong sense of encouragement and happiness."
In the interview she also talks about ikebana as living sculpture. It is created for the moment. The fact that it is a short-lived art form is part of what makes it's impression on people so strong.
"Ikebana is the art of creating three dimensional pieces using plants. The difference between Ikebana and other forms of sculptures is that the materials are “alive”. Ikebana is a form of sculpture that exists only within a limited time span, transforms from moment to moment, then perishes.

In the Sogetsu School, there are times when we create pieces exceeding the average or standard size. Yet, no matter how grand or powerful the piece may be, it too will transform, deteriorate, and come to an end. This undeniable fact of all living things, that they are perishable, is the essence of Ikebana. I believe that because of its limited time, Ikebana has the power to touch people’s hearts strongly."

Monday 9 January 2012

Folding Fan for a New Year

Flowers only. No. 3 oyo, fan shape.
Roses and anemone.

A boat shaped ikebana vase brings good wishes for the year to come. May the trip be adventurous and safe for us all. I'm starting off the new year with a fan shaped arrangement using flowers only. In Japanese culture the folding fan is a necessary item at celebrations to mark important events in life. The fan symbolizes friendship, respect and good wishes. It is also used when performing arts such as tea ceremony, traditional dance, Noh songs and traditional comic storytelling.

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