Melbourne Ikebana Festival, 7 and 8 September

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Ikebana Today 45

I have been arguing that the most important factor in contemporary art is meaning. The meaning is often produced through the contexts of the artwork. To show how artwork can create meaning, I use my own work created to celebrate the Archibald Prize Exhibition 2015 at the Art Galley of Ballarat. 

My original inspiration come from Self Portraits by Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). In her works Frida herself is in the midst of lush green foliage, flowers, birds and monkeys. It seems to me that the forest behind her represents an ideal state of spiritual freedom that is in contrast to her physically tormented reality. The role of nature in these works resonated for me as I am always interested in the relationship between humans and the natural world. 

I chose chicken wire to create a head, which in some ways resembles a cage. The chicken wire as well as the metal frame within creates a separation between the inner space and the unlimited freedom outside the work. In the back of my mind I also had some images of refugees who are sometimes kept in cage like circumstances, dreaming of the freedom that lies outside the cage. Although birds are usually kept inside a wire cage, you may see them enjoying themselves outside the cage in this work.  

After overcoming many obstacles in making this work, I was relieved to hear so much positive feedback. Following success in this project, I am fortunate to be commissioned to create another large work for the Lorne Sculpture in March 2016.

Wye River Project (2)

Work in progress: Week 3 (27 March 2016). Shoso will complete his works on 3 April 2016. Visit Wye River to see Shoso's works as part of the Lorne Sculpture Biennale 2016.

Artist Statement 

This work is a tribute to the families and communities ravaged by the bushfires that raged through Wye River on Christmas Day 2015.

This work is a reminder that we are powerless before the full force of nature, something often forgotten in our civilised world. The fragility of our relationship with the environment is another theme running through this work, but more than anything it is the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and the certainty that new homes will rise from the ashes that I wanted to express with this work.

One of the main design feature of the work, the spiral shape, symbolizes the natural living energy that runs through all creation. It is a visualization of universal life: rebirth, growth, and progress.

Although fresh foliage and floral materials are small portion in the overall design, they create strong contrast with the burnt material and convey a message of rebirth.


Shoso Shimbo is a certified teacher of Ikebana. His floral work was selected for the prestigious publication, International Floral Art in 2014/2015 & 2016/2017, Stichting Kunstboek (Belgium). He has won multiple awards including the Gold Award at the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show.

His sculptural works have been featured in some of the major contemporary art exhibitions including the Toyota Sculpture Exhibition, Lorne Sculpture, Deakin University Contemporary Small Sculpture Award Finalists Exhibition and the New Wave Art Festival at the NGV. His recent commissions includes a public work of art for the Archibald Award Exhibition 2015 at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.   

Shoso has an MA (Monash), a Master of Fine Art (Monash) and PhD in Education (RMIT). He is also qualified as a garden designer (Japan Horticultural Society). He is a directer of International Society of Ikebana Studies and the floral art director of Mondopiero, and he teaches Japanese Aesthetics at RMIT short courses.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Wye River Project (1)

"I have selected Shoso Shimbo to lead this project, creating sculptural forms over four weekends of the Biennale on the beach in Wye. Out of destruction will come beauty and new life. I encourage all to return to the area to see the project evolve through to completion on April 3rd. " 
Julie Collins, Curator, Lorne Sculpture Biennale. 

When: 12 March to 3 April 2016 
Where: Wye River, Victoria, Australia

I walked through the damaged area, which has been restricted due to the risk of asbestos in the first week. Please visit my Facebook page for more images.
It is a physically demanding project, but I hope my work will contribute to the healing process for the community.