Thursday 14 July 2016

Demo in Oslo Botanical Garden

Demonstrating naturally curved lines of Flowering onions, Allium.

Oslo botanical garden is one of the most beautiful parks of Oslo. I know the park quite well from guiding groups as a volunteer a few times every summer. The huge collection og plants collected from different parts of the world makes it an interesting place for a stroll. Changing with the seasons it is different every time I visit.

Some weeks ago I gave an ikebana demonstration in the park as part of the annual plant market day. The old maner house, which is probably the oldest still standing timber building of Oslo, gave the event a dignified historic setting.

Handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata), paper fortune tellers, bamboo stick
Freestyle Nageire with ornamental flowers

One of the attractions of the garden this time of the year is the ornamental Handkerchief or Dove tree. This interesting tree with large white "flowers" hanging like handkerchiefs in the wind, was discovered in China by plant hunters in the late 1800s and brought to European parks as a fashionable novelty. I asked permission to cut a small branch at the back of the tree and decided to try it out in an abstract style nageire freestyle with paper fortune tellers as a complementing material. I've never seen Handkerchief tree in an ikebana arrangement, so it might be a first!

The theme of the demonstration was blooming tree branches and the joy of lavish spring flowers. In addition to fruit trees like Crab apple and Japanese quince, I also used other flowers with springtime connotations. Wisteria flowers always reminds me of the hair ornaments of the Maiko dancing the Miyako Odori spring dance, that I once saw in Kyoto. Wisteria is not very commonly grown in Norway, but they are to be seen in the Botanical garden. Peonies are often used to signalize spring in ikebana. They are also symbolizing spring season in Chinese and Japanese poetry and paintings. Peonies can be difficult to arrange since the flowers are usually big and heavy. Luckily I found a style of European peony with unusually small flowers that where a good size for a traditional slanting moribana arrangement.

European peony (Paeonia officinalis)

Wisteria sinensis

Monday 13 June 2016

Stockholm: Bonsai & Ikebana - Living art of Japan

If you're in Stockholm this summer, don't miss out on the exhibition Bonsai and Ikebana - Living art of Japan, at Östasiatiska museet in Stockholm.

Get inspired by the growing power and aesthetics of living art from Japan. From June 17 encounter an evocative installation of ceramics, tools and the philosophy behind. From August 20, the exhibition is filled with Bonsai and Ikebana. See new arrangements emerge every Saturday at 13! Bonsai is the art of growing and shaping trees in containers. The art form arrived in Japan from China, where it is called penjing, meaning "potted scenery", or penzai, meaning "potted plant". Ikebana is the Japanese word for the art of arranging living flowers in different types of receptacles. Every part of the arrangement is significant. The emphasis on asymmetry and the void between the parts are fundamental.

In addition to the ikebana live sessions on Saturdays in August and September, there will also be ikebana demonstrations, an ikebana workshop for kids with teachers from the Sogetsu school, and an ikebana program for adults with the Ichiyo school.

The exhibition will run from 17 june to 2 October 2016. The ikebana related programs starts late August.

Friday 10 June 2016

Back From the Tea Room

Todays chabana
Spirea, grass, Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus across), Oxeye (Leucanthemum vulgar)
Bamboo basket

It's been a year long break from blogging. Amongst other things I've been concentrating on tea ceremony studies. Now I'm finally back from the tea room with renewed inspiration.

Tea ceremony, Chanoyu, and ikebana have many things in common. Both are considered contemplative art forms with long traditions in the history of Japan. Both have been highly influenced by zen philosophy. Both are meditative practices, appreciated and enjoyed around the world.

A special style of flower arrangement called Chabana is used in the tea room to integrate nature and the seasons into the tea gathering. While tea practitioners tends to emphasize the differences between ikebana and chabana, ikebana practitioners usually considers chabana to be a special style or category of ikebana.

Chabana is truly an art of the moment. A chabana arrangement is spontaneous and natural. Ideally the flowers are harvested around the tea house right before the tea gathering. This gives the flowers a fresh and local quality. Delicate flowers that last only until the tea ceremony is over are preferred, at least in theory.

I found the flowers for todays chabana outside the tea room of my teacher Marius Frøisland. Some of the buttercups didn't soak water too well and started hanging their heads as the class came to an end. Quite ideal from a chabana point of view.

Marius is an experienced tea practitioner and runs the blog Chado - Musing in the pine and the podcast Tea life audio. The podcast also has a Facebook page.

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