Saturday 15 November 2014

Renka - Playful and Rhythmical

What would you do if someone gave you five minutes to create an ikebana arrangement?  I have been surprised many times when I have looked at the watch after spending more than an hour on an arrangement. Still, ikebana is also about spontaneity and about catching what's in the moment.

The late iemoto of the Sogetsu school, Hiroshi Teshigahara, introduced the Renka style ikebana as a new form of working together on ikebana, and as an avant-garde approach to the classical world of Japanese arts. The poetry style of Renga is going back at least 900 years. It is a playful form of poetry were the first poet starts the poem with a vers setting a theme. The second poet continues with another verse, and so on until the poem is finished.

Renka Ikebana arrangement by Inger Lise Arnesen and Lennart Persson.

Hiroshi Teshigahara explained "Renka is interesting because the range of expression can be expanded by the clashing or the concurrence of two individual styles. The unexpected, unpredictable result from such cooperative work transcends the individual and makes it really interesting. The beginning work is expanded into all kinds of possibilities, so if it is not up to par, the whole work will fail."

Renka Ikebana arrangement, detail.
Bulrush, Stocks, Sansevieria trifasciata, Male fern, Carnation.

A fellow student and I were put to work on a renka arrangement as part of learning about ikebana and Japanese arts. We were taking turns creating the "verses" of the poetry, and since we hadn't got more than five minutes to finish each contribution it had to be intuitive and spontaneous. The clue is to repeat or comment on a theme, form or colour in the previous arrangements so that the result becomes one rhythmical and harmonious work. As in Renga poetry the completed form is not known before the last ikebana arrangement is finished.

Renka Ikebana arrangement, detail.
Sansevieria trifasciata, Carnation, Chrysanthemum, Kiwi vine, Japanese Knotweed, 

I didn't have time to stay the whole class so my team mate finished off by connecting the different parts with bulrush straws, which was one of the materials we used.

Renka Ikebana arrangement, finished work. 

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