Thursday, 30 June 2011

Ikebana at Oslo Rose Days

If you are in Oslo this weekend, make sure not to miss the 2011 Rose Days arranged by the Norwegian Rose Society. It takes place in the Freia park, a secluded garden at the Freia chocolate factory.

There will be an ikebana exhibition in the Freia Hall. My ikebana teacher Lisbeth Lerum and I will be there to meet you. I'm doing a series of ikebana arrangements inspired by paintings by Edvard Munch.

The exhibition is open this Saturday and Sunday only, from noon to 5 pm. Welcome!

Photo update
The Edvard Munch ikebana series:
Under The Chestnut Tree
Four Girls
The Dance of Life
The Flower of Pain

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Alexandra Shenpen: Ikebana

Alexandra MacKay Shenpen begins her practice of ikebana by observing what stops her during a walk in nature - what catches her attention.

Watch this video from Odyssey Network and get some inspiration. Alexandra Shenpen is a Sogestu ikebana teacher based in Boulder, Colorado. She is also practicing and teaching Kalapa ikebana, a flower practice based on Shambhala Buddhism.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Modern Curved Lines

My last post was about slanting and hanging arrangements and the philosophy behind these fixed styles. Slanting and hanging arrangements are more sweeping than the upright style that is stretching upwards. In modern ikebana this translates to the difference between curved lines and straight lines or between vertical and horizontal lines.

Untraditional materials.
Coke and beer cans, Horsetail and Cow Parsley.

Today I'm following up with two resent works using curved lines in modern free style ikebana. If you compare them with the pictures in the last posting I think you can see the resemblance, but also that modern free style ikebana has more emphasis on a sculptural expression.

Whether you prefer the traditional naturalistic or the modern sculptural expressions in your life, I wish you a day with a lot of good energy. Curved lines has a lot of potential in them of holding back or letting go - it's up to you to find the balance.

Ishu-ike, leaves only, intertwining.
Cattail in red wooden container.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Back to Basics

I've been working mainly with freestyle ikebana lately, so it's been a while since I practiced the more traditional styles with fixed rules. When I do, it's almost always like the arrangement wants to show me a new side of the philosophy behind the rules. Going back to basics is always refreshing.

Variation nr.2 slanting moribana.

Fern and roses with Cow Parsley


The idea behind the triangular form with three main branches representing heaven, man and earth, is that mankind stands between and has the ability to balance the energies of heaven and earth. I like to think of this as the possibility of being visionary and grounded at the same time, and therefor in balance.

In Sogetsu ikebana there is a series of variations on the basic styles, that each reflects an aspect of mankind and nature. Working with ikebana is an invitation to connect with what is growing and what surounds us.

Variation nr.4 hanging nageire.
Redcurrant and roses.

The slanting and the hanging style reminds us that the spiritual world is not only about reaching up to the heavens. Heaven is also in the wind that surounds us blowing softly between the low sweeping branches.

In variation nr.2, shown in the first picture, the "man"-branch is positioned lower than both heaven and earth. The arrangement represents the humble and surprised human being, contemplating creation and the universe.

Variation nr.4, in the last picture, has only two of the three main branches. The "man"-branch has been left out. This is a peaceful assurance that

it's not all about me; n

ature, heaven and earth, will still be there when I am no longer.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Lunch by the Poppy Bed

Naturalistic Free style, using curved lines.
Poppy stems, Lupines and Astilbe.

The weather has finally changed and yesterday the sun came through for the first time in many days. We were spontaneously invited for lunch in the garden of a couple of friends that have moved outside the city centre. Amongst many things we were talking about ikebana and the different plants in the garden, and when we were leaving our host asked me to help myself to some flowers if I could see any that I would like. We agreed that the Poppies next to where we sat would make an interesting arrangement. So I picked some, already planning to go for a naturalistic style emphasizing the curving stems of the Poppies.

Poppies can have many meanings. A poppy field brings hope, colour and reassurance. In Chinese art Poppies represent rest, beauty and success. They are also associated with the loyalty and faith between lovers. In ikebana to, Poppies represents rest. The orange Poppy also symbolizes vanity and combined with Lupines that represents avarice the message isn't that nice. Let's stick to hope, colour and reassurance - a Poppy can really make your day!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Ikebana 1956

Hiroshi Teshigahara, headmaster of the Sogetsu School 1980-2001, was a well known film director with an international career. His surrealistic films from the 1960s based on stories by novelist and screenwriter Kobo Abe, have acquired the status of cult movies.

His short films are less well known. The 2o minutes long "Ikebana" from 1956 is one of his first productions. It portraits his father Sofu Teshigara's work with ikebana.

I've recently watched this charming short movie that retells the history of ikebana up to the modern postwar styles of the Sogetsu School. What makes this film a must see for everyone interested in Sogetsu is that the camera of Hiroshi Teshigahara takes us to the studio of his father Sofu where he is working on new creations. You can also see him teaching an ikebana class at the Sogetsu headquarters. The film offers a rare opportunity to get a deeper understanding of this great master who totally changed the world of ikebana.

"Ikebana" is published as extra material to the DVD box set "Three films by Hiroshi Teshigahara" by The Criterion Collection.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Rebuild Mashiko

The resent earthquakes in Japan caused significant damage to the pottery community in the town of Mashiko, known for its long traditions of pottery. Many kilns are ruined and ceramic works are destroyed. To raise money for the restoration the artists have started the organization "Rebuild Mashiko" and the exhibition project "Traveling Pieces".

This months Utsurawa-ba session at the Bar Brim in Tokyo was in collaboration with "Traveling Pieces". Ikebana artist So-sen Imai arranges flowers in potsherds from Mashiko and small vessels by Chietsu Mizugaki.
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