Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day 4 - Iemoto Akane demonstrates and we say sayonara

Feb 29th

We were now winding down to the grand finale of the last three days.

We awaited the demonstration by our Iemoto Akane, at the Chinmaya hall, walking distance from the IIC.


Filled with energy, laughter and fellowship, the Chennai Study Group had bonded once again.  We were missing all our other member friends who could not make this trip, and here's hoping these blog posts make them feel that they were there as well.

Mrs Veena Dass welcomed the gathering, and we started a bit late due to the late arrival of Mrs Ansari.  The Ambassador gave a short speech appreciating the efforts of the Sogetsu school to spread Japanese art, and bring understanding between our peoples.

Mrs Ansari also spoke briefly about her encounters with Ikebana.

We started with a short movie from the Sogetsu school about the founding Iemoto Sofu, and the subsequent movements of the school under Kasumi and Hiroshi.  It was a good time to reflect on the history of the school.  Made one wonder as to whether the Delhi chapter could have put together a photo exhibition showcasing their fifty years?

Anyway, we were all set to welcome Iemoto.

Dressed in a lovely kimono, this was a 'different' Iemoto for us! She spoke in Japanese and we understood that all the material and vases were courtesy the Delhi chapter.

Her grace and deft touch were immediately noticeable, as also the perfect coordination and understanding with her team.


The completed arrangement

The containers she used were wonderfully textured, and beautiful pieces in themselves.  The wooden texture of this, she complemented with the variegated dressina, so familiar to all of us from Chennai.

The end result - an all-leaf arrangement that was simple and personal.
Her third composition was in a large bowl


She used the fruit of the fish tail palm for this, creating a mass of lines.

what will she add to this now, we wondered.

Emit explained that she had coe across these ink-stained orchids, and felt that the colours would go so well with the palm pods.


And the bottle brush blooms added the finishing touches.

Always cutting material under water.....

the branches were given a gentle bend with her "elbows close to chest and palms close together on the branch" method of bending.

 The sunflowers  were dipped in salt solution, which she said helps improve their longevity.

This was the arrangement on display.  One suspects that some of the lines have got displaced during moving?

Iemoto seemed to enjoy working on this morimono.  What was new and interesting for us was the manner of fixture of one material to the other - the assistants drilled through the two fruits/vegetables.  Notice how the brinjal and yellow pepper therefore stand in relation to the large green coconut, whilst the little berries maintain their bunch shape.

The colours of this gorgeous vase were matched with these rust branches.  Unfortunately, one did not note down the name of the material.


She added some Larkspur for colour, 

....and this was the end result.  

Ikebana is all about simple expression, and this composition was a beauty.


A floor composition using the large tea making urn of Rajasthan.



the yellow threads that Iemoto saw in the market
fascinated her, and she felt gave it a festive look.

Here was an unusual glass container with beautiful markings, curves and openings.

Emit used curtain creeper to complement the curves in the vase.

...and this was the result

For this composition, Iemoto used lacquered driftwood.

Notice the battery operated drill that the assistant is using to drill a nail to keep the driftwood together, as also the dried palm.

The final composition

The last table arrangement

The assistants would offer her the material she was working with in one hand, while the other held a stalk of the next material.  Depending upon which one she took, the next set of material would be offered.  It was fascinating to see the process of assisting in a demonstration as well.

The Japanese gold threads to celebrate fifty years!

As it finally looked, away from the spotlight.


The stage was then cleared for the final piece, which we realised reflected her piece at the exhibition, in that she used the same rice paper on stalks.  But the materials - dried palm and hydrangeas were different here.  At one point, she moved into the audience, and directed her team from there.



Malathi sensei had this to say, "Akane's Demonstration was too authentic for words. She appeared on the stage in traditional attire. Her medium sized arrangements were executed with ease and refinement. Materials were handled with grace and gentleness and her narration fitted to the piece she was arranging. Both Japanese and Indian moods were seen. For me, the final large arrangement was a depiction of the natural landscape seen on the way to the airport, brown, dark green, light green and now and then the red tulip tree in season. The greens dominated, with a little brown and then a sudden splash of red. The Indian natural landscape was observed in great detail and rendered with much confidence and expertise."


The arrangement all ranged on the steps of the hall.


Sayonara at the Golf Club
A magical setting for our final banquet

The ruins all lit up

With Chris Lim and Deepali Dalmi


Bangles of fellowship!

With Akane  and Veena san

Iemoto presented the chapter heads with calligraphy and her book
The singer sang some golden oldies, and we were in a lovely mellow mood as we made our way back to the coach, after a hearty dinner.

The next day, we returned to Chennai, with some confusions in the airport as our luggage was over weight, having picked up kenzans and other assorted things in Delhi!

A memorable four days indeed for all of us who made the trip.

As the Iemoto said, maybe we will meet again at Tokyo, when Sogetsu celebrates its 90th anniversary next year?!

Day 4 - Chris Lim demonstrates

Feb 29th

The Chennai Study Group was a relaxed bunch this morning, and the mood of anticipation was quite different from the nervous energy of the previous morning.

We looked forward to Singapore's Christopher Lim's demonstration, and he did not disappoint with drama, speed and creative flair.


He was helped by an efficient team comprising some members of the Delhi chapter as well as a support staff when muscle was needed!

A colourful start

The composition away from the spotlight.  Every arrangement that was done, would be moved to a side table for us to view later.

In this second arrangement, we learnt how to quickly balance and stabilise materials, and
how key the technique of binding  is.

For his third piece, Lim used the woven mats found in our markets, which seem to have fascinated him.

He actually used the cutter to make "holes" in the mats through which the material passed into the vase.

The final composition, with the mats providing a linear mass, balanced by the colours of the crotons.

We quickly moved to the fourth piece, with a large gorgeous urn vase.  the black painted design of the vase was mirrored in the driftwood used.

The gold painted Monstera leaves were an interesting use, with the bold hydrangeas for drama.

Composition five again illustrated the process of balancing and stabilising material.  The top heavy banana stem was
stabilised by lashing firmly with the rather light wooden container.  The Asia lilies and the pine branches together made for an interesting composition.

Chris Lim regaled his audience with stories of cutting the kumquat branches from
Mrs Kantha Bukhari's garden.  he was delighted to be able to use this material as
it is very expensive back in Singapore.

He then speedily moved on to a different kind of composition, without kenzn or vase.  These bleached branches were balanced against each other, and under his instruction the ladies deftly bound them together.

In a few minutes, he had created a structure with the branches.  The maidenhair fern was then expertly draped through, and the roses and anthuriums placed to create a table floral piece.  Chris Lim explained how this could be made to last long by spraying the fern with a hair lacquer spray, to prevent the leaves from falling, and the flowers could keep changing as per the colour requirements.


Using the bending technique that both he and Iemoto Akane demonstrated, the cypress branch was given a lovely flow in this composition.  The white lines on the vase complemented by the peach blossoms.

The team then moved to the side table for this composition with large palm leaves

The large hanging heliconias adding drama and line.

The final composition


A basket-shaped vase with handle transformed with this arrangement with
painted leaves and creeper.

Combining of vases increases the scale of a composition.  
After eleven large compositions, the stage was cleared for the final large stage piece.

We witnessed the creation of such a large piece from the placing of the white rectangles to the manipulation of the large branch material, their wiring and stabilising and the placement of the flowers and fresh material.

Lim directing the team.


View from the right side

The straight view

View from left of stage
And so the demonstration ended, with Chris Lim acknowledging the team and earning a huge applause.





As Sensei Meenakshi said, "He worked in a systematic manner showcasing how one can keep  audience  alive and involved. The use of bright material adds to it. The arrangement i loved was the one with the cane mats."

Sensei Prerana had this to say, "This was also a show which can reach out to a diverse audience who does not understand Ikebana. And he was a master at that.I really liked some of his arrangements a lot."

Thank you Chris Lim and let us hope we see you again!