Saturday 25 May 2013

Mass and Space

Moribana, mass arrangement, Ka-bu-wake.
Chrysanthemum and roses.

Although this arrangement looks a bit naturalistic, the idea is more to focus on two solid round masses contrasted by an open space in-between them. In this case the Chrysanthemums had a lot of leaves so I could use them to get a larger and more varied mass. Ka-bu-wake is an old ikebana style with two separate groups. Both the water and the space in between are as important as the groups themselves. In this modern arrangement the Ka-bu-wake is made as an abstract freestyle.

Pink is a nice colour for spring don't you think? These Chrysanthemum flowers makes me think about Cherry blossoms.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Slow Spring Combo

Variation no 8. Nageire reversed basic slanting and Nageire no 4 upright.
Branches and roses.

Spring has been extremely slow this year. The good thing about that is that we've had a long period with buds and small leaves on the trees. Buds and spring leaves holds a lot of promise and hope in them - even when we have to wait for the fulfilling.

With small leaves the lines of the branches are emphasized, and it's easy to get an airy feeling with lots of space in-between the branches. Put in a poetic way and in the words of Hiroshi Teshigahara, 3rd. iemto of the Sogetsu school: There should be plenty of space for butterflies to fly through your arrangement.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Aeron Bergman and Alejandra Salinas - Ikebana Works

In some of their latest works Aeron Bergman and Alejandra Salinas, an artist duo currently living and working in Oslo, Norway, have been exploring traditions and the means of transferring ideas. In an interview they explain "We're interested in durability. And how ideas and concepts survive through times. And how artworks, for example, survive through time. The ideas, concepts and artworks that survives longest, are past on biologically. So they are ideas that are transferred from person to person. In other words traditions."

This focus on transferring ideas also led them to experiment with ikebana as an integral part of installations. Here are a few examples:

2013 Grünerløkka Kunsthall, Olso, Brooding on what I have lived through

Ikebana Number 14 Flowers, and Abstract Expressionist Classics Folded Over onto Themselves.

Photo: Svein G. Josefsen
Photo: Svein G. Josefsen

2012 INCA: Institute for Neo Connotative Action, Detroit, COPIOUS TROPHY

Ikebana No. 13 Twigs and frame, and Copious Trophy.


2012 IASPIS, Stockholm, Health and Prosperity in the Age of Kleptomania

Ikebana Number 1. Flowers in mid-century Danish modern vase by Knabstrup, broken GDR clock, Stockholm sanitation pipe and 1 SEK commemorative of the Swedish colony in Finland, permanent marker.

Ikebana Number 2. Flowers in Swedish mid-century modern vase by S. B. G, Styrofoam™, blue patch cable, red and green electric cables and tulle.

Watch the interview with Aearon and Alejandra, Feng Shui Consultation for 0047, through this link.

Their next exhibition will take place at Steirischer Herbst, Graz, 20th September - 13th October 2013.

Thursday 16 May 2013

What Goes Around Comes Around

"What Goes Around Comes Around".
Scrap metal, metal wire, coloured bamboo sticks, Protea and Bergenia leaves.
Raku vase by Brigitte Schneider, Atelier Tokibana.

This was my contribution to the ikebana exhibition at the Romanian Embassy in Oslo last weekend. It's a quite large arrangement based on curved and straight lines, and a long piece of very rusty scrap metal. I found this spiral shaped metal piece down at a rail park with old railways. I have no idea what it has been used for, but I guess it's been laying around for a while before I grabbed it.

Vase measures 48 x 14 x 12 cm, and arrangement 90 x 85 x 30 cm.

The Old Ikebana Master

Teaching ikebana is a long tradition. I found this charming old photo on the internet and thought it would be nice to share it with you.

This photo is from 1873, 140 years old. Japan had been secluded for more than 200 years when the Japanese authorities were forced to open up it's borders in 1854. The Tokugawa shōgun had to to resign, and the emperor was restored to power. With the Empire of Japan started a period of nationalism and intense socio-economic restructuring known as the Meiji Restoration. It was a time of great change.

It's fascinating to reflect on the changes in the ikebana world that this old ikebana master must have experienced. In his life time he saw ikebana changing from being a male practice to one open to women. And later even a standard part of women's education, and a government supported policy training them to be "good wives and wise mothers".

His generation also saw an increase in the number of pupils practising Ikebana and ikebana schools multiplying. The rules of ikebana were simplified. The old ikebana master probably teached a nageire style in tall vases and the fashionable seika style, a simplification of the rules of the more formal rikka. The ikebana seen in the photo is a kind of leaning seika. This simple style is characterized by the use of three branches symbolizing heaven, man and earth.

If he had a long life it is possible that he experienced new and more extravagant flowers arriving with the huge western influence after the opening of Japan. At the end of the century the new flowers and the western style of furnitures inspired Unshin Ohara, founder of the Ohara school, to present a modernized moribana style, restoring ancient traditional  landscape arrangements. What was this old master's attitude towards the new flowers and the trendy moribana? Was he able to adjust? Was he even interested? Ikebana always flourishes at the crossroads of tradition and renewal. What will be the changes in the lifetime of our generation?

This photo is believed to have been taken in Yokohama. It belongs to a series of staged "real life" in old Japan photos attributed to the camera of Shinichi Suzuki, student of the famous Renjo Shimooka. The photo is reposted from the Flickr photo stream of the user Okinawa Soba. You can read his comment on this photo and more in the same series through this link.

Monday 13 May 2013

Becoming a Teacher

This week the Romanian Embassy in Oslo opened its doors for an ikebana student's exhibition. We all contributed with one arrangement each and the result was a quite varied and nice little exhibition.

One of my fellow ikebanists, Tatjana Felberg, is preparing for her teachers exams. As part of this she is required to hold a demonstration of ikebana. In the Sogetsu School this is always done standing behind the arrangement, facing the public. It's quite challenging to get all the angles and positions of the branches correct when you're seeing it all from behind. Tatjana did an excellent job though, and she is now one step closer to her teacher's degree.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Amongst Friends

"Amongst Friends", ikebana with flowers from visiting friends.
Sunflower, Protea and assorted desert plants.

It's so nice when a guest brings flowers. These were given to me earlier this week, and I decided to honor my guests by making an ikebana including all the materials that they brought.

The result is a bit wilder than the usually Sogetsu ikebana, but why not? I love the different textures of the plants and the swiping movements.

In the Sogetsu curriculum there is an exercise using five or more materials in your arrangement. This refers to a style called Maze-zashi, often used for autumn arrangements but also in the summertime. The underlaying structure is mass and line and the arrangement should have a light and airy character.

The challenge when using so many different materials is to keep a harmonious balance. Unfortunately two of my sunflowers were broken so I had to place them much lower than I ideally would have done. On the other side, working with what you have and accepting things as they are is the number one rule in  ikebana and in any meditative art form.

Sunday 5 May 2013

Land Art - Ste Marguerite, Cannes

If you are in Cannes this summer, be sure to visit the Sainte Marguerite island and the First International Land Art Encounter of Cannes. Follow the signs and take a stroll through the forest and by the sea. The ten artists taking part, six Finnish artists originating from Lapland and four French artists originating from the French Riviera, have been working on eco-friendly art that uses natural materials found in the place where they are worked. This Land Art exhibition is inspired by Oranki Art Environmental Art Exhibition, a similar art encounter that has been organized in the Finnish village Oranki for eleven years. The works will be on display all through the summer.

From the 10 artworks in the exhibition, I've chosen four that I found especially interesting. The first, a group of interesting sculptural shapes made from trees and bamboo sticks, was without name sign but I think it is the work of Finnish artist Esa Maltaus. The second is by Bernard Abril, whom I have written about in an earlier blog post presenting his work. Next is a humoristic sculpture by Kari Södö, and last an installation by Tuomas Korkalo - again a group of three shapes that works nicely on the space in between the tree trunks. Notice the clever use of seaweed balls, that looks like they grow out of the Eucalyptus trunks.

The exhibition is organized by Sally Ducrow and Cathy Cuby.

Installation: tree trunks, roots and bamboo sticks.
Bernard Abril, Le Sacre du Printemps: tree trunks, living tree, paint.
Kari Södö, Voyage, voyage: Tree trunks, branches, painted numbers and symbols, beach stones.

Thomas Korkalo Slow down Sugar: Eucalyptus trunks and seaweed balls.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Relax and Float Downstream

Strelitzia leaf, blue Ornithogalum.

I've never seen blue Ornithogalum before. I found these at a market in South of France, and immediately knew I had to have them. A refreshing colour and an interesting texture - great for use in a mass.

Emphasizing the surface of leaves is an exercise in the Sogetsu School curriculum. In this arrangement the very straight line of a Strelitzia leaf is contrasted by a curving container and a feeling of floating down a stream.

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