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Friday, 3 August 2018

Events Calendar

August 2018: Finalists and the winner of Ikebana Gallery Award 2018 will be announced. http://ikebanaaustralia.blogspot.com.au 

15 August 2018: A new term of Shoso’s course, From Ikebana to Contemporary Art at RMIT Short Courses will start. http://bit.ly/1IFmuyl

16 & 17 August 2018: Shoso will create 7 arrangements including a large work for a display suite for a new development in Barenya Court, Kew. This is like a Shoso’s solo exhibition! Volunteer assistants welcome.

21 September to 6 November 2018: Biennale of Australian Art. Shoso was selected for the biennale. http://www.boaa.net.au

6 & 7 October 2018: Wa Ikebana Exhibition and Workshops. https://www.facebook.com/wa.ikebana/
There is a workshop session only for men. Encourage your friend or family to join. https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?embed&eid=404074


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Monday, 23 July 2018

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Monday, 25 June 2018

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Daily Meditation: Events Calendar

29 June 2018: Ikebana workshop at Star of the Sea Collage, Brighton. Ikebana in School Program: http://bit.ly/ikebana-in-schools

30 June 2018: Deadline for Ikebana Gallery Award 2018. http://ikebanaaustralia.blogspot.com.au

29 July 2018: Ikebana worksop at Kazari, Christmas arrangements, Prahran. http://www.kazari.com.au/

15 August 2018: A new term of Shoso’s course, From Ikebana to Contemporary Art at RMIT Short Courses will start. http://bit.ly/1IFmuyl

21 September to 6 November 2018: Biennale of Australian Art. Shoso was selected for the biennale. http://www.boaa.net.au

6 & 7 October 2018: Wa Ikebana Exhibition and Workshops. Shoso's students will run a number of ikebana workshops at a special price.  


Friday, 8 June 2018

Vacant Positions for Ikebana Teachers

Ikebana Galley Award (IGA) is looking for two committee members. With our world class judging panel, IGA needs to further expand its presence in social media and its capacity to reach more Ikebana students around the world. 


Monday, 4 June 2018

Ikebana & Competition

While we try to promote Ikebana Gallery Award (IGA), we sometimes hear the statements like “Our master said that Ikebana should not be judged,” “Why do we have to compete?” There is some truth in those statements. After all, everyone is allowed to have their own beliefs or philosophies. As long as they don’t harass us or act unethically online, we can just ignore them and ask them to leave us alone. If they are persistent, all we can do is to ask them to read the mission statements on our website.

However, there are some points to make about such a narrow view on judging and competition in ikebana.

1. All of the three major ikebana schools (Ikenobo, Ohara & Sogetsu) are running their own ikebana competitions today. They recognise the benefits of competitions in ikebana. But we have to note that they are “the winners” in the field of ikebana in which there are over 1000 schools. Some of the other schools may insist that those winners’ attitudes are not always right and may even develop a negative attitude to competitions in ikebana. Instead of attacking those large schools, some of them may attack us, as we are a small and easy target at the moment.

2. Historically, competitions have always existed in the development of ikebana. However, the concept of competition in ikebana is not the same as those in contemporary professional sports, for example, where winning is highly and sometimes overly valued. 

In principle, ikebana is an inner pursuit. Our main focus is internal growth rather than what expressed externally and therefore not comparable. Accordingly, even after Western Modernism influenced ikebana in 1920’s and 1930’s, competitions that followed the style of Western art were not always well perceived. Some competitions were totally unsuccessful. History of ikebana competitions is a fascinating research topic but I won’t go into more detail here. 

Seeing some ikebana competitions being managed properly and getting appropriate attention today, however, I personally feel that ikebana practitioners are mature enough (or Westernised enough) to enjoy friendly competitions. I am confident that IGA will present a positive case study and will prove to be historically significant as a researcher has already mentioned. Everyone is a winner in IGA.

3. Ikebana discourse overseas is sometimes different from those in Japan. I hear such statement as “ikebana should be this and that” just too often. Some overseas ikebana masters (and their followers) can be more authoritative than masters in Japan. They tend to mystify ikebana. They are often angry and prone to criticise others. In addition they hate competitions. We may need to keep away from those “masters”.

4. As to the benefits and necessities of IGA, please read the following writings. http://ikebanaaustralia.blogspot.com/p/faq.html


Thursday, 17 May 2018

Ikebana Today No.70 (The Last Article)

I have been talking about the two Ikebana booms in Japanese history. The first one occurred in the late Edo period and its hit product was Seika, and the second one occurred in the Meiji & Taisho era and its hit product was Moribana. Both of them made Ikebana significantly easy to practice.

The third Ikebana boom occurred after the war. At the centre of the boom was Sofu Teshigahara (1900 – 1979), the founder of Sogetsu school. He criticised many aspects of traditional Ikebana, in particular the way Ikebana was taught. He insisted that Ikebana is art, an individual expression by each person and copying master’s works is not an artistic way of creating Ikebana. His approach was the application of Western modernism to Ikebana. Like many other examples of cultural transformation in Japan, his approach was to modify the new culture and preserve the old culture as you see fit. Although his approach was supported by a great number of people over the years, it has been criticised in many ways and I think an historical evaluation of his work will be made in the near future.

Actually, the Sogetsu school of Ikebana became more interesting for me after Hiroshi Teshigahara took over in 1980’s. However, I cannot talk about Hiroshi’s work here, because this series of essays has to end this month due to editorial circumstances at Dengon Net. I really appreciate the great support I have received from the publisher and editors of Dengon Net. I was so fortunate to be able to talk about anything I liked without worrying about readers’ feedback. Writing essays is really fun and an easy thing for me to do and I could keep writing much longer. But it may be a good idea to take a break here and look for a new direction. Thank you very much, staff and readers of Dengon Net. Thank you also Julie, my partner and Pat, my mother in law for checking my English essays for such a long time, over nearly ten years.


Ikebana Today No.69

Ikebana booms in Japan were socio-cultural phenomenon. Looking into their history helps understand Japanese society better. I hope some will investigate them in a more academic context. Such research may also reveal the secrets of how to succeed in business. One of them seems to be simply providing innovative and attractive products responding to clients’ needs. 

I’d like to make a few comments on the Ikebana boom in the Meiji (1868 - 1912) to Taisho era (1912 - 1926) . Prior to this boom Ikebana was taught in private. Teachers did not set the tuition fees, and the students payed according to their financial situations. I sometimes think that might be a good system. I set my tuition fees rather low so that I can train as many competent qualified teachers as possible in a shortest period of time. However, I may change my approach shortly. Those who join the class because of rather cheap fees don’t usually complete the long journey of learning Ikebana. Setting fees low does not necessary help achieve my goal. Anyway, it was after this boom that a group lesson in a classroom was introduced with set fees.

Traditionally most Ikebana teachers were male. However, number of female teachers increased significantly during this boom. Reason? A large number of Japanese men died during the Sino-Japanese War (1894 - 95) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 05). Becoming an Ikebana teacher was attractive, but often one of the limited choices for some war widows.   

It is also notable that kenzan played a important role in this boom. It seems that it was invented during Meiji and had been reinvented after that. As I mentioned last month, Moribana was the hit product after Taisho era. Its easiness and popularity depend largely on kenzan.   

This is a work I made for my client at their home party. Rather unusual combination of materials made this work interesting. In April I’ll present a paper at the International Academic Forum in Kobe, and at a university in Romania. That must be a good time to see sakura.      


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Keeper of Water: At the Lorne Sculpture Biennale 2018

Originally inspired by Daniel McCormick’s watershed sculpture, this project, a storm water filtering dam, is a small scale environmental sculpture using organic materials. It symbolises a desire to protect our waterways. The aim of this kind of organic dam is to slow, filter and cleanse the water (through sand bags, willow branches and charcoal) before it joins the river. Being made of organic and biodegradable materials, the sculpture would eventually become a part of its environment. This project encourage community members to join in production, learning how to recycle natural wastes to create a practical solution to environmental problems.


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Sea snakes: Trash vortexes at the Lorne Sculpture 2018

Go and see Shoso Shimbo's floating & flashing sculpture, Sea snakes at the Lorne Sculpture Biennale, 17 March - 2 April 2018. Sea snakes is one of the two entries by Shoso and was supported by so many people. Thank you, Ming Loo, Hide Hanashima, students of Star of the Sea college, Shoso's ikebana students, David McKenzie, Graeme Wilkie and many more.       


Saturday, 10 March 2018

Ikebana Today No.68

I’d like to talk about the second Ikebana boom in the Meiji and Taisho era. Any boom occurs as a result of multiple factors. There is no simple explanation about their causes. However, it is clear that this boom occurred among young women. What did they want from Ikebana? We should look into their social conditions. But I have not come across any research about this potentially excellent topic. The following is, therefore, my own hypothesis.

Who were those behind the boom? Considering that the number of housewives (stay-at-home wives) increased only after the Taisho era, it was young unmarried women who took Ikebana as a training to become a housewife.

The Meiji government’s aim was to increase wealth and power of the State. In each household a woman was expected to be a good and wise housewife. Family law in the Meiji era made it difficult for women to choose other options. Marriage was in their best interest and it was natural for them to seek the best possible opportunities.

An important factor to consider is that womens' colleges were established in the Meiji era, and Ikebana and tea ceremony were often thought as unofficial subjects in many of them. As a result, the general perception was that intelligent ladies from women’s college can do Ikebana! People started to think that you are a lady if you can do Ikebana. Ikebana provided a better marriage opportunity for women. In other words, Ikebana was successful in gaining branding and learning it was a good investment.

There were some innovations in Ikebana that contributed to the boom in this period. The most significant was the promotion of Moribana by the Ohara school. Moribana is an arrangement made in a shallow container using Kenzan or Shippo. In essence, it simplified Ikebana. Its simple designs allow almost anyone to make Ikebana. In addition, it was suitable for the Western style housing that start to become popular that time and it allowed the use of new types of flowers that came from the West. It really focused on the enjoyable aspects of Ikebana. No wonder it became so popular! Even today, Moribana is the style that many Ikebana students learn first at Ikebana schools.

This is an arrangement I made for Hanabishi restaurant in Melbourne. I really enjoy working for this client. In March I will make 2 environmental works for the Lorne Sculpture 2018 and I’ll talk about environmental art at their conference. Lorne Sculpture is the largest outdoor art festival in Victoria and a number of international artists and researchers participate in this event. Please join us.


Thursday, 1 March 2018

Abstract of Shoso's presentation at the Asian Conference for Arts & Humanities 2018, Kobe, Japan

The ongoing destruction of our environment by man-made pollution continues to push the world toward catastrophic consequences. The roots of some of these problems are often traced to the rise of Western modernity as well as the Western attitude to nature, where nature is objectified and exploited as a resource.

In response, we are seeing the emergence of an eco-centric perspective in contemporary art. Environmental artists have been using various approaches from focusing on raising awareness to searching for solutions or setting out a plan for social transformation.

Some of them have noted that certain non-Western cultures could inform a valuable shift in aesthetic experience. In many Indigenous cultures, nature often centres the members of a group by providing boundaries of behaviour, as well as access to sacred realms of enlightenment. While the idealisation of Indigenous cultures has been condemned, embracing them in art practice has generated not only fasciation (e.g. Hayao Miyazaki & Haruki Murakami) but also effective preservation of nature.

Can ikebana, as an art form with its origin in ancient Japan, provide any insights for contemporary environmental artists in their efforts to transform values and aesthetic sensibility?

In the 16th century, ikebana was defined as the symbolic representation of nature. It developed into an art form encompassing spiritual training in the pursuit of the harmonious coexistence of human beings and nature, regarding humans as part of nature.

However, the ikebana reform movement in 1930’s under the influence of the Western modernism declared ikebana to be only a form of art. Contemporary ikebana is still under the influence of that reformation, but a re-examination of the traditional values of ikebana might bring it into line with the aims of environmental art.

At Hanabishi Restaurant, Melbourne