Melbourne Ikebana Festival, 7 and 8 September

Friday 30 August 2013

Ikebana Today 15

Promoting Ikebana as a form of art (Western art) created a great Ikebana boom after the war with tens millions of Ikebana students. However, the term "art" was problematic. Art is a Western concept introduced to Japan after the Meiji era. Although Tenshin Okakura proposed an influential definition of art, it is a bit hard to understand for the general public. In addition, since Modernism it seems that even Western specialists cannot agree on what art is. 

Stating that Ikebana is art means that Ikebana becomes ambiguous for the majority of Japanese people. Sofu Teshigahara insisted that Ikebana is free self-expression but that simple definition was also confusing. It's easy to see how this could cause some problems sooner or later.

Sofu was influenced by Mirei Shigemori in establishing his ideas about Ikebana. Shigemori is the most important garden designer in the Showa period and also a significant figure in modern Ikebana history. I’ll talk about his ideas on Ikebana at some other time.

The important thing at this stage of my discussion is that there were two aspects to Ikebana after the war: the general public’s view of Ikebana as a kind of  training to become a good housewife, and some schools’ view of Ikebana as art. These two aspects can produce both positive and negative results. Looking at these in relation to Japanese society at the time helps us understand the current problems of Ikebana.      

This is one of the works I made for the opening of Toko Shinoda’s exhibition at the Lesley Kehoe Galleries on Collins Street. Please don’t miss the wonderful exhibition. Ms Kehoe is one the judges for our Ikebana Gallery Award, the first international Ikebana award for Ikebana students around the world. Please visit our blog to see this year’s result.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Ikebana Gallery Award 2013

The winner of the Ikebana Gallery Award 2013 has been announced.

Ikebana Gallery Award FAQ

Q: How can I submit my work?
A: Use Email or Facebook.

To make submission easier, we have started a Ikebana Gallery Facebook Page,

Now you have 2 options to submit your works.
  1. Send by email. Please see Award page in our blog for the details,
  2. Simply like Ikebana Gallery Facebook Page and post and share your work. Your post needs to be approved to appear on the wall of the page. If you don’t have a facebook account, you cannot upload your work directly. However, you can still see the page.
Q: What happens next?
A: From facebook to blog.

We hope that more Ikebana works will appear on Ikebana Gallery Facebook Page. Then, Ikebana Gallery Committee will constantly select works from the Facebook Page and publish up to about 300 works per year on this blog, Ikebana Gallery Australia. Those works on the blog will be considered for the Ikebana Gallery Award.

Q: Can anyone post on the facebook page?
A: Yes, but there are some conditions for Ikebana teachers.

Please note that the Ikebana Gallery Facebook Page is for Ikebana students. To be considered for Ikebana Gallery Award, you have to be a student of Ikebana at the time when you are submitting your work.

Qualified Ikebana teachers may submit their works to the Ikebana Gallery Facebook Page, but they have to indicate that they are teachers. Their works will not be published on our blog.

Q: I’d like to know the result of the competition. How can you keep in touch with me?
A: Use Email or Facebook.

There are several options to be in touch with us and to receive updates. Easy options are either 1 or 2.
  1. Go to the Ikebana Gallery Australia Blog. Fill in and submit your email address in Follow by Email section on the right side column.
  2. Create a Facebook account. Like Ikebana Gallery Facebook Page and you will receive updates. 
Simply by submitting your works you are supporting this project. If you want to support us even more, visit the “Sponsors” page in this blog.

Shoso Shimbo, PhD
Ikebana Gallery Australia

Sunday 4 August 2013

Ikebana Today 14

The Ikebana boom after World War 2 was the greatest in Ikebana history. It was Sofu Teshigahara who was the driving force behind the boom. He was able to give Ikebana the status of a new brand. He was aware that promoting Ikebana as a kind of spiritual training or as training to become a good housewife would not work. 

It's often said that people who tend to seek status symbols such as famous brand clothes or sport cars are those with an inferiority complex. 

Since the Meiji Restoration Japanese have had a strong inferiority complex towards Western cultures. Western literature, films or even religions were eagerly taken up by the Japanese as if they were commercial brands. Under such conditions how could it be possible to promote Ikebana?  It would certainly not be effective to promote Ikebana as Japanese traditional culture. 

The magic word Sofu came up with was ART. Declaring that Ikebana is an art made it possible to attract over 5 million people. It has to be noted that the art at the time meant Western art. Although art was a truly a magic word to promote Ikebana, it was a curse for Ikebana at the same time. I’ll talk more about the relationship between Ikebana and art in the next issues.

This is a work I made for Hanabishi restaurant in Melbourne city. The restaurant introduced a special set menu of $68, which I highly recommend. I hope you will enjoy their refined dishes as well as my flower. I also hope that more business owners will display Ikebana for their shops or offices. There are many Ikebana artists who would like to challenge such opportunities and their fees are usually very reasonable.