Saturday, March 4, 2017

Botany Meets Fresh Flowers

Women’s Christian College
Ikebana Demonstration/ Workshop
February 20, 2017

Women’s Christian College, Chennai organised a demonstration/workshop of Ikebana to introduce students of the Botany department to this beautiful art form. 45 students were present for the session from 8.15 to 11 am. The Department staff and Head of Department too were present throughout the event and were very encouraging. 
Sensei Trishala Vaishnav shares tips on palm weaving
Senseis  Prerana Mehta and  Trishala Vaishnav  handled the session, and it  was a special day for Trishala as she is an alumnus of the College. Prerana began with a 10-minute introduction on Ikebana, followed by a demo of the Basic Upright style  by Trishala and Basic Slanting style by Prerana. They also did a freestyle arrangement each, and everything went smoothly as they had meticulously planned  and prepared for the day.
Sensei Prerana Mehta doing a freestyle arrangement

Sensei Prerana creates fluid movement 

Sensei Trishala uses woven palms
 to offset the yellow chrysanthemums

Sensei Trishala's basic slanting style arrangement

It was then time for the  students to put their newly learnt skills into practice. They worked in groups of three and  were given complete sets of vases, flowers, greens, cutters and kenzans to work with.  Our senseis were very happy about the outcome and how well students had picked up the concept. It is easy to imagine how well Prerana and Trishala conveyed their enthusiasm and joy to the group!

Students keenly observing the demo...
and the joy shows too!

Students convey joy and freshness with red and green

Good use of the angular vase to show expanse of water

Pink roses spread across the vase
make good use of its  length

Pretty in pink, with the flowers and vase going well together

Line and space are shown well, along with
the expanse of water in the suiban
The highlight of the workshop, Prerana said, was not about the technical aspects as much as the enthusiasm and enjoyment of students, which showed in their arrangements. Students made their work easy by assisting in carrying the materials to the venue on the first floor. They evinced keen interest and were extremely well behaved during the session. 
The HoD’s remark that they would remember this workshop even 25 years later was the best possible feedback they could get, and this is the kind of encouragement that nurtures the group.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Creativity on the Spot

February 10, 2017

"What's in store for me?" Members eagerly look for their lots
This was a workshop with a twist—not theme based as always, but grew out of  Mrs. Padma Swaminathan’s idea of exchanging vases. It was decided that flowers and greens too would be exchanged and this suggestion was welcomed by all.  In most workshops the theme is fixed in advance, and members have ample time to plan the arrangement. But today the challenge was to create something from an unknown set of materials. Once everyone had assembled, the materials were numbered,  lots picked and all good  to go. 

Eleven members were present and  it was good to have Ambika in our midst again, as she had been unable to attend a couple of earlier workshops .
Sensei Padma works her magic

Mrs. Malathi Pandurang began with a brief introduction of Sensei Padma,  who also demonstrated on-the-spot creativity,  arranging in  a deep brown ceramic vase, yellow and red gerbera and local green material. A single brown twig curving downwards created an expanse of space in this eye catching piece.
A close up of her finished piece,
evoking freshness and summer days

Sensei Padma's work
   Fresh and dried material come together in perfect harmony
in the experienced hands of Sensei Padma Swaminathan
Sensei Padma combines angles and curves
 with colour for this piece using two kenzan
A dramatic silence pervaded the room as members first observed the materials put together by others and pondered over how best to showcase them. Prerana said she had a feeling of going for an exam as she had to use materials not planned by her but by someone else!

An army green suiban, matching leaves and yellow roses inspire Sensei Janaki
to recreate spheres with roses and the two halves of the palm leaf
The end result was beauty and creativity that was truly inspiring and led us to believe that it is possible to rise up to any challenge if it is approached with an open mindset. As the proverb goes: " A picture is worth a thousand words" and so, here goes!
Chitra Rajan uses two kenzan to create this piece-- "In Conversation", 
using trimmed palm leaf and gerberas blending with the green vase 

The use of dried material by many members is a tribute to the faith of Chennai in the aftermath of cyclone Vardah, that this too shall pass and we will move forward again. 
Yellow chrysanthemums and dried branch show
 line and mass in this piece by Sensei Dalley.

Sensei Prerana contrasts the glossy black vase with fresh white
 and orange carnations and Chinese bamboo for a sense of drama

Sensei Molly uses this unusual ceramic vase
to spread joy with carnations and ixora

Chitra Thiagarajan contrasts the square suiban with curved lines and draceana leaves, the bright orange gerberas perking up the arrangement 
Sensei Meenakshi chose  a vantage point the for the coconut  stem.
Surface and mass create a breezy outdoor effect

Sensei Malathi's suiban resembles sea foam--a light base for
the strong surface of moneyplant leaves, with pretty pink
carnations and dried branch

Yellow seems to be the colour of the day, and Sensei Ambika
creates  a summerscape with earth coloured wooden suiban, chrysanthemums and local greens
It was an enjoyable experiment, and sure to be repeated!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Harvest Season--Harbinger of Hope - Morimono workshop

January 23, 2017

January is a month of celebrations, with the festivals of Pongal, Shankranthi, Lohri, Bihu, among others, celebrated across India. It is a  season of plenty, marked by good food, colourful kolams/rangoli, family time, traditional dances and sporting events. In keeping with this, the theme of the  first workshop of 2017 was Harvest.

The day started as usual.  The pro-jallikattu protests in Chennai had entered the sixth day, unprecedented in the city's history  both due its peaceful nature and participation of people irrespective of age, gender, caste and any other distinction.

However, just as we were patting ourselves on our back, things took an ugly turn, and road blocks, arson, protests and traffic jams were reported from all corners of the city.   This did not deter our members from setting out of their homes. Many were stuck in traffic and finally eight members were able to attend the workshop. As an exception due to circumstances beyond our control, Bhuvana and Chelvi  made the arrangements at home and sent in pictures.

 Sensei Meenakshi Sarin demonstrated three pieces on the day's theme. 

Sensei Meenakshi - Her arrangement using fresh turmeric roots denoting auspiciousness, sugarcane and yellow flowers for prosperity, set the mood for celebration.

Farm animals are decorated with bright  paint on their horns, and colorful garlands around their necks. Meenakshi found a unique piece of driftwood during her recent travels, and has used this, along with red and yellow flowers, to symbolise the worship of the animals that help in agriculture.

The second composition by Sensei Meenu.
The third piece by Sensei Meenakshi conveyed the simplicity of the Japanese food plate, a work of art in minimalist style. 

The third harvest composition by sensei Meenu
The members then went on to create morimono pieces, using  fruits, vegetables and flowers. Morimono has been part of the Japanese harvest festivals and is derived from the Japanese words  moru, "to heap up" and  mono "thing"--and denotes heaped up things. There is, however, a method to this, and the piece should convey a meaning or story. It may be simple, minimal or denote abundance and joy. The unique aspect of each material used should be the focal point of this arrangement. 

Sensei Malathi used a tall transparent nageire vase filled with wheat grains, topping it with a single yam to show harvest and beautifully curving leaves, conveying earthiness and new beginnings.

Sensei Padma used simple bamboo baskets with fresh carrots and tomatoes, heralding the harvest season. The yellow orchid --Dancing Lady-- shows bounty and used on auspicious occasions. The purple orchids brighten up the whole arrangement.  

A fresh frond of coconut flowers in a copper pot, sitting on  a paddy-filled ceramic suiban--these materials are an integral part of any auspicious occasion. Divya brings them all together to create  a simple yet striking festive mood.

Sensei Divya - coconut frond

Chitra Rajan used a green pumpkin, hollowed out to create a vase, and the dark suiban  showcases the bountiful vibrancy in harvest colours.  Red and yellow enhance this effect.

A still life painting, no less, is how the piece by Chitra Thiagarajan may be described. A white bamboo tray is a perfect base for this work that harmonises abundance, colour,  aesthetics--all that morimono stands for.

Sensei Prerana  used a traditional "moram" as the base and painted it green to echo the harvest colours. A black ceramic vase kept flat made an interesting contrast for brinjals and corn cobs. Ornamental pineapple and flowers complete the festive look. 

Bhuvana, having got stuck in traffic, was unable to attend the workshop, and sent in a picture of her morimono done at home. She chose a traditional brass pot used during Pongal celebrations, with gourds,fruits and dry materials to portray  Ganesha--lord of plenty and prosperity.

Chelvi too was in the same predicament and unfazed by the situation, came up with a lovely piece and sent in pictures. She used a small cane basket as the base for a yellow pumpkin, sliced open to double as a container. Contrasting fruits, roots and greens convey a deep connection with Mother Earth and its simplicity speaks volumes. 

Chelvi's composition - yellow pumpkin denotes the harvest season. It's open to indicate the innumerable opportunities that opens up in life. Apples that add colour and chillies that add spice to life, of course

Sugarcane, "moram" and ixora greens are  Molly's choice for her Pongal themed arrangement. 

It was a day well spent, celebrating Nature's gift to us, and conveying this through Ikebana is a truly creative process. We are happy to share this with our readers and look forward to many more exciting workshops in the coming months.