Wednesday 4 October 2017

Ikebana Today 63

Mirei Shigemori’s assertion that flowers are nothing more than materials for self expression influenced such major Ikebana schools as Sogetsu and Ohara that gained great popularity after the war. To recognise how innovative this statement was, as well as how radically it was different to how flowers were seen before, we need to look into the origin of Ikebana.

Yutaka Tuchihashi (1990) states that Ikebana developed from the ancient custom of Hanami (flower viewing) by way of establishment of the Rikka style Ikebana. The aim of Hanami seems to be gaining vital force by viewing flowers, in particular Spring blossoms. 

In Japanese the word, hana (flower) also means with a different intonation nose, which is the contact point to the outside. Flower can be taken to mean, therefore, the contact point of this world to the outside, the sacred world.    

In the ancient Japan, people also took a branch of blossom from the fields and put it in the rice paddocks. They intended to transplant the nature’s life force, that sacred energy, to the paddock wishing for abundant crops. Their attitudes to flower suggest fetishism and manaism. 

We can assume that flower was regarded as something full of life force. Its energy was also seen as something mysterious, sacred and contagious. Importantly it also revitalised our souls. Such was the notion of flowers underlying in the development of Ikebana. 

Therefore, Shigemori’s teachings denied not just Ikebana as a spiritual training but also Japanese traditional attitudes to flower. We need to further reconsider his attitude, which was influenced by the Western Modernism, from a historical point of view. Do we still need to follow his teachings in the era of Post Modernism?     

The image is one of a small works I made for the exhibition of Tomokazu Matsuyama at Lesley Kehoe Galleries, 101 Collins St, Melbourne. I used subdued colours to work with colourful works by Mr Matsuyama.

October is a busy month for me. On 7th and 8th we will hold Wa: Ikebana exhibition at the Abbotsford convent. This is the third annual exhibition by Ikenobo, Ichiyo and my students of Sogetsu school. 

From 22nd, my sculptural work will be exhibited at Yering Station Sculpture Exhibition. I’m pleased that my environmental sculpture was selected for this show. Both sites are great to visit. 

From 25th, my course, Japanese Aesthetics: From Ikebana to contemporary art will start at the RMIT Short Courses.