Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Ikebana compositions contrasting with the shape of the container - August workshop

8th August 2020 

The Chennai Sogetsu Study Group is continuing with its monthly meetings, moving them online, to deal with the restrictions and safety requirements of the COVID pandemic.  Chennai continues to be under lockdown.

Our August workshop included a demosntration by sensei Molly from her home, while we all watched, connected via Google Meet.  There were thirteen participants in the subsequent workshop, whle fifteen attended the demonstration.  In her usual methodical and understated style, sensei Molly was efficiently well prepared with materials and camera set up, and began her demonstration with a round moribana vase.

The theme for this month was contrasting the shape of the container in the arrangement.  So, for her first piece, sensei Molly contrasted the circular container, with geometric shapes created with the umbrella plant.  Even the Periwinkle flowes and Wax rose fruits echoed the octagonal shapes she created with the lines!  The Heliconia stood tall and erect, and added balance and height to the composition.

Umbrella palm leaf stalk in geometrical shapes, wax rose fruits, periwinkle flowers, lone heliconia flower in improvised circular ceramic container
For her second composition, sensei Molly chose a rectangular white ceramic container.  Her composition of graceful curved lines beautifully contrasted the container.  The lines included metal wire as well as the dracena.  Using the red Jatropha flowers lower down helped keep the lines in focus, while adding a colour balance.

Coiled metal wire, dracena branches and Jatropha flowers in a white rectangular ceramic container.

Hosta leaf and Cannon ball flower bunch, in an Auroville ceramic hexagonal container.
For her final composition, sensei Molly chose a heaxagonal shaped container, and in a minimalistic arrangement, the shape was contrasted with the circular form of the hosta lily, and the single line of the Cannon Ball tree completed this pièce de résistance.

The three compositions

The workshop compositions are in a Photo Album and can be accessed here.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Our first online demo and workshop - Abstract arrangements in the time of lockdown

Saturday 18th July 2020

What a unusual few months it has been for all of us, as we continue in the lockdown here in Chennai. Our Sogetsu Study Group were to reconvene after the summer break, and we had to adapt and look to technology to keep us connected.

As our Chairperson sensei Malathi said, "under the circumstances, we have been connected well during summer as well as the shut down period. Let us wish for a wonderful year ahead."

The theme for the online July demonstration and workshop was “Abstract arrangements in the time of lockdown.” Members are all home-bound and getting material is a challenge.  hence the idea was to look to move away from natural expressions, to Abstract expressions with whatever material we could work with, in this period.

Sensei Ambika volunteered to do a live online demonstration of two compositions via Google Meet. Within the next 2-3 days, all members uploaded their arrangements to Google Photos, and everyone had an enjoyable time learning from each other!

It is the first meeting where we have had 100% attendance, thanks to technology, and the option to view from wherever you are!  One of our members Usha, even signed in from Dubai!

Sensei Ambika set up her Ikebana demo pedestal in line with her laptop camera and we we were all set.  The two arrangements viewed by all are presented below.

Unfortunately, we overlooked taking screenshots of the live demo, and as sensei Ambika managed alone, there are no pictures of her working at the arrangements.  Here are the completed compositions
Shapes in My Kitchen - Blue paper up cycled fruit basket as stand, kitchen implements, aspidistra leaves, musk melon,
and dry red chillies wired together in bunches

Sensei Ambika narrated how she rediscovered her kitchen through the lockdown - it became her private space, as she scrubbed and cooked, listening to music and shaking a leg!  She absorbed the shapes and textures around her, as she waited for the water to boil or the sambar to cook - the beautiful grains of her rosewood rolling pin, the angles of the knife block, the shine and drama of the pasta tongs.  These formed the structure of her arrangement, which she assembled in front of the audience.  A wonderful striped yellow musk melon was delivered by the vegetable farmer just the previous day, and its circular shape and radiating lines contrasted the angular kitchen block.  She completed her composition with Aspidistra leaves from her garden and the dry red chillies from her kitchen cabinet wired together, to give colour and drama.

Shapes on my terrace - Sogetsu triangle plastic vases, Umbrella plant, anthurium lives, costa lily leave and flowers of Tecoma stans

The second one was an abstract expression with all natural material.  The theme was shapes from the terrace, absorbed during her morning walks.  The vases were like her terrace, full of angles and with two halves, the umbrella plant was worked into triangle reminiscent of the water pipes that ran across the terrace, where off to one side were the circles of the satellite TV dishes, some rusted at the edges, and at the other end were the squares of the air-conditioning units.  The shapes would be profiles in the predawn light, and as the sun came up, it would catch the terrace walls, represented by the yellow Tecoma.

Click here for pictures of the abstract compositions created by our members for the workshop.

Next month will also be online.  Date and details will be announced soon

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Ikebana in the time of lockdown. Our April workshop of Miniatures with materials available at our homes. - Google Photos

April 20th 2020

With the Covid Lockdown in Chennai, it was not possible to have a face to face meeting or workshop.  Instead, we had a "virtual" meeting via our WhatsApp group.  The theme was "Miniatures Challenge" - the idea being to create Ikebana with whatever we find in our homes.  So while some members had to be really innovative using dry material,  grape stems, clay creations and tomatoes, others had the luxury of their spring home gardens.

We had 24 members participating, the highest we have had for any workshop! Click on the link below to enjoy the creativity and enterprise of our Chennai Sogetsu Study Group members!

Ikebana in the time of lockdown. Our April workshop of Miniatures with materials available at our homes. - Google Photos

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March election meeting and an unusual demonstration

10th March 2020

13 of us gathered at ABK AOTS Dosokai, at the start of the Coronavirus spreading in India.  We were cautious to maintain social distance, and used namastes to greet each other, rather than our customary warm handshakes and hugs!

It was unanimously decided to request our current office bearers to continue for another term, and they readily accepted.  Ms Bhuvana Shivshankaran will be the program Coordinator and Ms Chelvi Gopinath the Treasurer.

A novel experiment was done.  In order to give the budding sensei-to-be senior students a chance to demonstrate from the back, they were encouraged to do one basic lesson from the rear.  The lesson was chosen by lots.

Chitra Rajan demonstrated Variation 1 moribana Slanting style,
with a lovely dry branch and roses.

With her arrangement, a smile of accomplishment!

The beautiful completed arrangement. 

Next Bhuvana was to demonstrate Variation 3 Slanting moribana.

With her arrangement and a ready shy smile!

The lovely clear lines of ixora for Variation 3 with hikae coming forward, with bunched up jerberas.

Chitra Thiagarajan was given Variation 6 all round, for her
demonstration from the back.  Doesn't she have a naughty smile?!
Skilful use of the large monstera leaves, Heliconia flowers, fox tailed a few gypsofilia completed the arrangement.

Chitra T also received her certificates for Book 1-4, congratulations!

It was a beautiful and confident show by Chitra R, Bhuvana and Chitra T and they are well on the way to becoming accomplished senseis!
We wound up the meeting with congratulations and farewells but not before we had some lovely refreshments courtesy Divya and Prerana.

Celebrating the Emperor's birthday

Feb 20th 2020

On the occasion of the Emperor of Japan's birthday reception, it is customary for the Consulate of Japan, Chennai to get in touch with our Chairperson, Sensei Malathi, to embellish the hall with a work of Ikebana.                          It was no different this year, though the big difference was that this was the first reception for Emperor Naruhito, who was crowned in May 2019.
The space required that the arrangement be no taller than 3 feet, and was to one side of the podium, whilst on the other Sensei Cherry Venkatesh of the Ohara school would be displaying her work.

Using tall vases this time meant that the arrangement of flowers needed to occupy a more horizontal space.

The final composition - Chrysanthemums, Ibericum berries, gypsofilia.  Do notice the touch of gold on the leaves.

Ohara school's Cherry Venkatesh worked on the other side of the podium.

Mrs Karen Uchiyama was intrigued by the arrangement, and discussed with sensei Malathi who explained that the pair of vases are her greetings extended to the new Emperor and Empress.  The Chrysanthemums symbolise their throne, the berries wish them long life, and the gold shows a special celebration.

Sensei Malathi, Mrs Uchiyama and Mrs Venkatesh

It was a beautiful evening, with the Consul speaking of the long connections between our countries, and so graciously acknowledging and thanking both Mrs Pandurang and Mrs Venkatesh for their lovely creations, which brought a bit of Japan to Chennai.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Collaborating on mall installations of Cholamandal artist Jacob

Jan 24th 2020

After our enriching and interesting experience of doing our annual exhibition at the Cholamandal Artists' Village earlier in the month, there was an interesting request from Jacob Jebaraj, the Cholamandal artist.  He was participating in the Madras Art Guild's Connecting Communities Through Art exhibition at VR Mall, with three installations that used discarded material for the most part.

His installations were ready, and would we care to add fresh material and bring in the essence of Ikebana into these pieces?  Our member Sathya G, who resides at Cholamandal, was the coordinator for this whole project.

VR Mall is a busy mall in the Anna Nagar side of town, and they had given us permission to work on these installations only after 830 pm!  So it was that Sathya, Mrs Jacob and Ambika set off from the ECR side at 630pm and reached the venue after a maddeningly slow and tortuous ride at 845 in the evening.

They were armed with long-lasting flowers like Strelitzia and Ginger Lily, and water tubes as also cotton and cellophane paper to make sure the flowers get a drink of water.

This was the first one we worked on.  Jacob had created a driftwood tree, filled with various
discarded material.  Ambika and Sathya used only the Strelitzia to add drama and colour to the
composition, with leaves lower down, and this is how it looked when they were done.
This installation was placed just at the lift entrance in the ground floor lobby
 Here is another view, and the title board that was put up.  Jacob aimed to bring an aesthetic appreciation of the environment and what we discard, combining Ikebana and the Chinese form Suiseki.

It was close to 10 by the time we finished this piece and so the group trooped up for a quick dinner, before starting on the next piece.

For this second installation, Jacob had created flowers from plastic bottles, and this splendid tree
did not need any more colour.  So, with a bunch of palm, crotons and aralea, Ambika and Sathya
gave the tree some greenery, making it feel more "alive".

Jacob titled this as "Openness"

It was close to midnight when they moved to the last installation, which was a dramatic spreading piece.  

Various discarded human-created elements - from slippers, to broken bottles to thrown away toys - formed colourful accents on the floor, while dramatic lines supported what looked like the beach weeds, as they moved upwards and outwards.  The Ikebana team used ginger torch lily to complement the look and feel of this composition, as also Dracaena,
whose colour merged well with the piece.  

It was a interesting experiment and experience for Ambika and Sathya, and we hope the start of more collaborations across the arts.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Demonstrating at the Palladium Mall by Senseis Molly and Trishala

11th January 2020

The high-end Palladium Mall, adjacent to Phoenix City Mall, organised a multi-cultural morning, exclusively for women.  The event was organised by Glass Box, an Event Management Company.  They presented different activities like artistic Ikebana, creative zentangles, nail art,  calligraphy etc. All these various activities went on at the same time, in the large common area of the mall, near the Food Court.  Separate space was allocated for each activity with nice tables and comfortable chairs.
While few participants registered early whereas others just walked in.  Altogether we had 10 participants.

Both sensei were helped efficiently by Ms Luna Bose 

The Ikebana demonstration was in two sessions of one hour each. Sensei Molly started the first one,  with one Freestyle composition mainly to attract the passers by.

This attracted the attention of few more passersby who walked in.

Sensei Molly then demonstrated three basic lessons. 

Towards the end, she demonstrated one more free style arrangement.
Then sensei Trishala took over.

After demonstrating a few lesson arrangements, se also demonstrated freestyle artistic ikebana.

Sensei Trishala's trademark plaited palm to dramatic effect

The final piece by sensei Trishala

The event was a big success.  Two participants showed keen interest to learn further. In fact, one of the persons, attended both sessions! They were given the pamphlet detailing the activities of Sogetsu Ikebana Chapter in Chennai.

It has been a busy January for our senseis!!