|Our exhibition opens tomorrow|
In the spirit of the rising sun
“Ikebana is an ancient art, which entered Japan along with Buddhism. The flowers used were traditional ones, like azaleas, offered to the deity in monasteries,” explains Malathi Pandurang, chairperson of the Sogetsu Study Group.
Pandurang goes on to describe how, in an ancient monastery in Kyoto, a priest sat observing a pond and the flowers that grew on it. It occurred to him to use both these as elements of art , “which is why the art form is called Ikebana; ‘ike’ means water and ‘bana’ refers to plant material.” Pandurang has been practising this art for the past four decades, and follows the Sogetsu school of Ikebana. It is one of myriad schools, each with its set of rules and techniques of arrangement. Through her study group, Pandurang and her team have been working to learn, teach and spread this art in Chennai.
“Chennai weather is the biggest deterrent,” she says, adding, “The advantage is that no other city has foliage like this. So, we use more of greens and less of flowers in our work.”
The other reason for this choice of style is the availability of flowers in the region. “Unlike our tropical flowers, which are strong in scent but with short lives, traditional Japanese flowers would last in the the monasteries for a week,” she says. In Chennai, the team uses pre-cut flowers, as well as fresh seasonal flowers. “The seasonal peacock flower is one of those we prefer to give students who are just starting out,” she says.
Her authority on the subject is well founded. Over the years, Pandurang has stayed in touch with every single Iemoto — or grandmaster — of the original Sogetsu school in Japan, and witnessed the direction each one took the art form towards.
“Founded by Sofu Teshigahara, the school has thrived under four different Iemotos,from the Teshigahara family. The title of Iemoto is hereditary, and can be translated as “grandmaster” or “founder”, she says via email, “Founder Sofu was attracted by old, worm-eaten wood, what he called ‘Nature’s Sculpture’, favouring the camellia flower. Daughter Kasumi loved lacquer-ware, especially the traditional Japanese handcart, and her heart went to small, light-coloured flowers which she would use in abundance. Son Hiroshi on the other hand, with a background in film-making and ceramics, loved to work with bamboo, and the Sogetsu displays became bold, large and dynamic. Hiroshi’s daughter Akane, is the current Iemoto , and she has moved further creatively, experimenting with combining other art forms and highlighting the process of creation itself.”
The Chennai Sogetsu Study Group will showcase its work at an exhibition ‘Exploring Movement, Expressing Shakti’ at Focus Art Gallery, on February 23 and 24.
Flowers for a Pharaoh
Flower arranging dates back to ancient Egypt. Apparently, the Egyptians were the first to cut and place flowers in a vase to decorate and add colour to their surroundings.
January 19th 2018
Our first workshop of 2018, and it was an exciting way to kick off the year! In keeping with the artistic principles of Sogetsu Ikebana, the challenge was to use only man-made material in our compositions.
Ten members of the Study Group assembled for the workshop. Sensei Prerana started us off with a demonstration of the theme, and her four compositions were each different, unique and creative, giving the group many ideas for the future.
Each arrangement was accompanied by an interesting narrative which helped us viewers understand the artist's mind.
As she began her first composition, Sensei Prerana said, "I was visiting a craft exhibition recently and I saw a craftsman making bookmarks with different coloured wires. A thought struck me that I should use these wires. I ran the next day and literally cajoled the craftsman to sell a few meters of the wires. While I was very excited with the material, I still had no idea what to do with them. At night about 2pm a thought came. I got up rolled a piece of wire round a thick rolling pin. Lo and behold it took the shape of a flower. Happily went back to sleep!"
|An arrangement using a glass vase, a fruit bowl, a wine bottle and hand crafted |
flowers made from coloured aluminium wires. Emphasis on using unconventional material.
Her next piece was with fibre glass sheets and Prerana recounted visiting the hardware store and making him cut it into the shapes that she wanted.
The hardware shopkeeper was nonplussed at her requirements, as there was a lot of wastage and unused bits from the sheet!
She used a ceramic container to give structure to the composition and placed the sheets of various shapes in order to create an abstract composition of geometric shapes.
|Fibreglass sheets in an abstract, modern composition.|
|Titled "Hope", this dramatic composition used the discarded wooden frames from her decoupage craft to signify the waste|
and destruction that natural calamities have caused. In the midst of this desolate scene, hope always arises, signified by the
bottle and its floral design.
|"Stolen pleasures of childhood" was the theme of this last composition, with bottles of coloured 'forbidden' drink |
and the flowers representing the innocence of childhood.
|Sensei Prerana with her very different and exciting compositions!|
It was on to the workshop.
|Sensei Padma used woven mats and a fan from Manila to create this composition with drama and movement, |
with an upside-down pedestal as base.
|Sensei Malathi was inspired by the hardware store,|
making use of plastic drain heads for mass, wire for lines and steel
scrubbers as well!
|Chelvi titled this as "The confused mind" creating mass and colour with decorative party material|
|Sensei Molly used painted material on a base of wood to create a table arrangement, with the silk pink flowers |
in contrast to the brown and gold.
|Sensei Trishala created this elegant composition with festive coloured wires|
creating beautiful swirls on lines created by plastic wire.
|Sensei Ambika's "Wishing Tree" contrasted|
the golden box with the tall painted branches
festooned with coloured thread. A small
jewelled button and the golden mesh cloth
softened the sharp line of the box.
|Bhuvana used the tray from her oven, with a wine bottle and woven coir|
to create dramatic movement.
|Sensei Divya created a mass of steel lines to complement her container, with the golden flower and leaf bunch adding|
a focal point.
It was an invigorating start to 2018, and whilst we initially wondered how we could work without flowers, it was a challenge well met!
December 21st 2017
The last workshop for 2017 was held on December 21st
at ABK Hall, Chennai. Eight members were present and Chitra Rajan, who attended the workshop in Delhi by Sensei Yoko Hosono
on curriculum updation, shared with us her experiences of Sensei's demo and narratives. She commented how Sensei Hosono noted that simplicity is the key, and one should consider the three lines as representing the materials, the artist and the viewer.
|Chitra Rajan sharing her experience of Sensei Yoko Hosono's demo|Thank you Chitra for the crisp and lively presentation. Sensei Ambika
took over the second half of the workshop to present a slide show and demonstrate on the day's theme. A visit to Seattle, USA, is incomplete without a day at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. She had the opportunity to be there and gave the group a virtual tour through the fascinating world of glass in hundreds of colours and designs. As students and teachers of Ikebana, the series Cylinders and Baskets was of special interest to observe the colours, shapes and how we could relate to them through Ikebana. Her experiences can be found here.
To know more about Dale Chihuly and his works click here
Ambika then gave a demo on the workshop theme, “The Challenge of Glass Containers” to showcase the beauty of this fragile but truly versatile material.
Her first arrangement was with a beautiful yellow-orange glass vase with interesting detail. This was her reaction to the Chihuly experience
|The vase as the inspiration|
The glass Iwata vase belongs to her mother, and reminded Ambika of the Chihuly glass creations. she contrasted this with the tangled roots of lady's finger plants and complemented the warm colour with orange heliconia and brown shades of dried hydrangea. It was a well balanced arrangement adding height and space.
|Twists and turns make an eye catching statement|
An elegant transparent glass nageire vase was the focus of the second piece. Ambika stressed that the ikebanist has to ensure the materials are arranged aesthetically, since whatever is placed in this container will show through the water and glass. Both have to be spotlessly clean and stems inside the vase should also form part of the composition. She achieved this effortlessly, creating a striking piece with hosta leaves artistically arranged and purple and white flowers to provide balance
Ambika’s final piece was a table arrangement wit a Christmas theme in a glass fruit bowl, with red anthuriums, gypsophilia and boxwood leaves to create a simple yet striking piece that looked equally beautiful from all angles. The three pictures give a fair idea of this.
The group then moved on to their arrangements.
Sensei Mrs. Malathi Pandurang
used a transparent glass vase for heliconia and dracaena creating dramatic lines. Bundled up dracaena leaves and a hint of gypsophilia provided artistic tension to the arrangement.
|Simple elegance of white and green in a transparent glass|
Chitra Rajan chose a transparent glass for her single white zerbera
that stood out against the hosta leaf and delicate frond of fern.
Pushkala used a tall nageire glass vase with rolled leaves to create interesting lines
reflected in the green lines of eunonymous, green chrysanthemums and a bunch of ixora
for the colour highlight.
Divya Selvam’s artistic weaving of colourful dressing leaves with a hint of white
from the temple tree flower was deceptively simple and could sit proudly
on any drawing room table. It looks beautiful viewed from any angle.
|Pretty maids all in a row |
Tall mineral water bottles in transparent glass was Prerana Mehta’s
choice and three of them in a row with dried branches for lines, gypsophilia a single orchid for colour was truly a work of art.
Janaki Rao made two arrangements—one using a deep red tea light holder
and offset it with gypsophilia and a few blooms of temple flower and leaves.
The use of Christmas colours was apt for the season.
|Welcoming the festive season with|
|Look at me...I can fly!|
She used a transparent pickle jar with a single stem of heliconia
and dracaena leaves with an interesting twist.
|Pushkala's Second piece|December 12th 2017
When we heard that sensei
Yoka Hosono from HQs would be coming to the Delhi Sogetsu chapter, we of course were very keen to attend from Chennai. Seven of us from the Chennai Study Group assembled at the airport on the morning of 12th, filled with anticipation and excitement at the coming treat. Pushkala had even packed a handy breakfast for each of us!! As we sat munching on the yummy idlies, we looked through the windows at the tarmac and much to our horror, the winter mist/fog had descended and we could not even see the runway!
As a result our flight departed more than three and a half hours late, and we were sure to be late for the 230pm start of the demonstration to the Embassy of Japan. Mrs Veena Dass kindly organised to keep our bags as we rushed directly to the Embassy.
Alas, the demonstration was just done, and we were only in time for the sumptuous and refreshing tea!! One of our members Chitra who had travelled earlier was the lucky one to sit through the demonstration. However, we enjoyed viewing the completed exhibits.
|This large piece at the entrance gave us a warm welcome.|
|The nine pieces that were spread out on the tables. The room was magical, with the backdrop of the Japanese-style windows.|
|Working with local materials, sensei Hosono used depth, movement and space to create this freestyle composition.|
|Sensei along with the Basic moribana composition in a large suiban.|
|Complementing the container|
|The challenge of the shape of the container|
|Working with dry material and driftwood|
|Creating width across a shallow container|
|Mirroring the colours and lines on the vase|
|Highlighting the orange of the container|
|The smiles say it all!|
|Awaiting the start of the curriculum sessions|
|The joy of seasonal material|
|Working without a kenzan|
|Sensei's assistant is a member of the Delhi Chapter.|
|An unusual container calls for interesting treatment!|
|Experimenting with a glass vase|
Lotus is a common yet significant material for us in India, and in south India it flowers almost through the year. Used in worship, it is usually available in the markets with a short stalk. Also, the material is such that the stem does not hold the leaf or flower erect. Is it possible to use this material tall, in an arrangement. In order to get some tips on treatment and usage, Pushkala and Chitra had organised for lotus leaves and flowers, so that sensei Hosono could explain the treatment method.
The video below shows sensei
Hosono pumping the stems full of water, so as to give the stalks firmness and the ability to be erect.
|The Chennai group with sensei Hosono|
It was a lovely two days for us ladies from Chennai, and we bade farewell and thanks to the members of the Delhi chapter who were wonderful hosts as usual.
29th November 2017
On the occasion of the celebration of the birthday of the Empereor of Japan, the Consulate in Chennai organised a reception and requested sensei
Malathi Pandurang, the Chairperson of the Sogetsu Study Group, and Ms Cherry Venkatesan, sensei
of the Ohara school to create Ikebana compositions to welcome the guests.
While Mrs Pandurang chose a traditional Indian cooking container, urali
, Mrs Venkatesan chose a large suiban
for her composition.
|Chrysanthemums, ixora branches, Limoneum, Oriental Lily and gold threads in an exuberant display. The frontal view.|
|The view from the side|
|The two contrasting arrangements formed a colourful feast for the eyes.|
|Mr and Mrs Seiji Baba await their guests|
|With the Consul General and his wife|
|With the arrangement|
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