Friday, December 8, 2017

Celebrating the Emperor's birthday

 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

A touch of home for the Japanese

December 1st 2017

As Chennai gets a respite from the summer and enters the pleasant season, the city usually gets busy with foreign visitors and cultural activities of various sorts.

One of the large hotels in the city, The Leela Palace, was hosting a dinner for a group of Japanese guests.  What better way to make them feel at home then to give them a touch of Ikebana.

On the request of the event organisers, senseis Prerana and Meenakashi of the Study Group created table arrangements for the event.
Six similar arrangements were needed on one single  dining table for 30 people.  For this, Asia Lilies, carnations, aspidistra and Gypsofilia were used in a round glass container.  The compositions were festive and colourful.

Another two nagiere arrangements were placed on the side tables, of which we have no pictures, unfortunately.
Sensei Prerana and Sensei Meenakshi with one of the arrangements

The arrangements were much appreciated by the guests and the organisers.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pottery, containers and much more - November workshop

17th November 2017
Sandhya with her creations

Our November workshop was an unusual one. While we work so hard as a Study Group to create Ikebana with various inspirations, what about the containers that we use? What can we learn from the allied art of studio pottery?

Could we use the workshop to highlight unusual containers?

Mrs Sandhya Ravi Shankar, a potter who has  studied at Sanskriti - Delhi Blue Ceramic Centre, shared with us her journey and learnings in the exciting world of working with stoneware, and the process of creation and the element of the unexpected and the imperfections.

Ten of the Study Group members were present.  Originally scheduled for the 15th, it was re-scheduled due to the forecast of heavy rains.

Sandhya took us through an absorbing talk, speaking about the historical and cultural  role that pottery has played, across the world, and the various kinds of pottery, from terracotta to stoneware to porcelain.  She also shared the experiences and challenges of a potter's life, which while being physically demanding, also is creatively rewarding.

She shared with us some of her creations and the various techniques used.

Using the coil and  throw process , with carving om the surface resulted in this beautiful piece.
Taller and larger pieces are of course more challenging and require more skill, practise  and experience.

Another example of the coil and throw process with bas relief work.  Sandhya commented that the two "trees" could be interpreted as hands grasping at a fragile world.

Sandhya also spent some time elaborating on the process of glaze firing which renders the clay into strong, non-porous ceramic objects  that outlive the artist!  The lesson to students, she said was to be sure before putting creations into the kiln because once fired, it cannot be undone!  The firing would sometimes crack poorly made pots, but is is full of amazing uncertainties.

She showcased some of the glaze effects obtained using oxides of iron, nickel, copper & cobalt in an oxidising kiln environment.

She ended her presentation with these very appropriate lines regarding the artist and the process.

Malathi sensei then responded to the large vase with the tree.

Using wide expansive lines of Ixora to create an artistic space, Malathi sensei then used two large chrysanthemums for a naturalistic expression.

Malathi then spoke about this  Japanese traditional Ikebana bamboo container.  She reminisced as to her experience in purchasing it in Japan, and how she has cared for it in the humidity of Chennai, following the instructions of the shopkeeper!  Using a pine with a downward movement in the upper space and  carnations moving upwards, Malathi sensei connected the creative spaces in a composition that brought the Japanese tokonama into our minds.
This was contrasted by a modern abstract expression, to complement the modern Sogetsu ceramic vase.  Using it vertically to create two "windows", Malathi sensei created green lines that zig zag up and end in the carnations that reflect the colour of the vase.  

All the three compositions.  Unusual containers all, with differing emotional expressions.
The workshop

Chelvi created her own container, using decoupage on a wine bottle, and the pink roses and the long black lines complemented them perfectly.

Janaki highlighted the "twisting" surface of her vase, in the composition with seed pods, jerbera and michaelmas daisies.

For Bhuvana, the unusual pot inspired a miniaturised arrangement with jerberas.

Molly sensei displayed her two-toned ceramic nagiere vase with tall lines that kept the vase in focus.

Chitra Rajan used a ceramic vase from Potters Shed.  She chose to create an end of monsoon season feel, with the bare branches symbolising the fallen leaves and the fresh clematis flowers and small purple chrysanthemums  in a bunch with money plant leaves depicted the renewal, in this expression of wabi sabi.  The white jerbera brought balance to the composition.  The unusual container could be imagined as a tree trunk in the nagiere composition.

Sensei Prerana looked to emphasise the shape and colour of this gold and orange container.  Gold mesh, green and orange miniature chrysanthemums in a circular arrangement mirrored the circular hole of the container while the yellow chrysanthemum brought height and balance to the composition.

Sensei Dalley created a bold horizontal line with Sansevieria and a dry branch to balance the squat vase, with an exuberance of garden material in this low composition.

It was a morning well spent, and we are grateful to Sandhya for sharing her experiences with us and also hauling all the vases to display!  After refreshments courtesy Divya and Chelvi, we brought the workshop to a close.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Meeting Mrs Uma Rao

In a recent trip to Bangalore, Malathi sensei was able to meet her Ikebana teacher, Mrs Uma Rao, as she does every time she goes to the city.  She looked well, and continues to have a twinkle in her eye!  She was happy with all the updates on the Chennai Sogetsu Group, her Ikebana friends and our families.  

"I owe my Ikebana interpretation to her as much as to my School. It is the most fortunate gift I have got", shares Malathi sensei.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The all leaf challenge - October workshop

For our pre-deepavali october workshop, the theme agreed upon was "All-Leaf".  The challenge for us Ikebana artistes was to create compositions, using only leaves.  Of course, in hot and humid Chennai, leaves are in abundance, and in a sense collecting material was not a problem.  However, using them together, to complement the vase and to maintain the principles of Ikebana, that was the challenge

Twelve of us gathered on Oct 14th at the ABK hall to try our hand at this, with sensei Trishala demonstrating first off.

 Her first composition was a moribana.  She used a large eart-coloured suibin, with a beautiful jade interior.

Combining Clearodendron, Dressina, Pandanus and using the Crotons for a contrast in colour, the all-leaf omposition showed a lot of water, and the inner colour of the vase also formed part of the composition.

 For her second composition, Trishala used a ceramic nagiere vase.  The vase had an interesting metallic sheen and texture, adding drama to the vase.

We all wondered how she would tackle this vase, whcihc seemed to provide a challenge by itself!

And this was the dramatic result.
Tall Crinum leaves added height and drama to the composition,
Caladiums and variegated dressina provided mass, while the stalk of 
palm balanced the linear composition, as did the trimmed umbrella palm
With those inspiring demo pieces, we got down to work.
Sensei Dalley used leaves of the Sea Grape, with assorted material from her garden, to create this composition that reminded us of Autumn.

Chitra Thiagarajan also used a nagiere vase, but combined line and mass with umbrella plant, caladium, dressina and croton leaves for this striking composition.

With lines that seemed to flow from the vase through the composition, sensei Malathi created this magical all leaf composition with aspidistra and leaves of the spider lily.

Sensei Divya created this tabletop composition  with this common decorative leaf, contrasting it with the terminalia leaves in the foreground.

Bhuvana used palm, lily leaves and crotons in this naturalistic moribana all-leaf.

With vases that seemed to match the ABK curtains, Chelvi's arrangement was a study of surfaces, combining monstera leaves of various sizes and shades quite beautifully and dramatically.

Pushkala experimented with sansavera and assorted unidentified material from her environs in this moribana.

Ambika used a black ceramic vase, and complimented the twist in the vase with the spiral of the dramaitc brown dressina.  this was balanced by the yellow an green crotons lower down, while the new rose leaves mirrored the colours of the dressina.

Sensei Janaki looked to contrast the spikes of the bamboo leaves with that of the Mast tree, and used the colourful crotons to highlight the vase colour as well/

Sunday, September 17, 2017

September workshop - another look at hues, tints and colour

Sept 13th 2017

We gathered for our Sept workshop at the ABK hall.  Ten members attended.  This was our second workshop on the monochromatic colour theme, with the experimentation with tints and hues.

Demonstrating this time was sensei Janaki, who did a splendid job exploring pink and white in her two compositions.

A beautiful composition exploring the various hues of pink, in a deep pink straw basket.  The anthuriums were placed  providing depth, the jerberas reflected the colour of the basket and the orchids brought balance.
Another view
"Signs of Spring" was sensei Janaki's title for this composition in white, with chrysanthemums, anthuriums and baby's breath.  The tint of green in the anthurium stamen and stems of the flowers were the tint that was highlighted.
Chitra Rajan worked with purple with lagerstroemia branches expanding the scale of the arrangement, exploring the darker tint with the croton leaves that she used lower down and complemented her vase.
The orange circular vase used by Ambika led to her exploring orange and its tints.  She tried to work with several materials and combined amaralys lilies, ixora flowers, carnations, Rangoon creeper and hypericum berries.  A Pomogranate fruit reflects the colour and shape of the vase.
Bhuvana used her deep red/black bowl as the colour to explore, and her composition was a beautiful composition of red/black, with croton leaves, hypericum berries, and jerberas.  The arrangement had depth and explored the surface/mass aspect of the leaves as well.
Sensei Malathi worked with a tall jade nagiere vase, exploring the entire range of hues from lighter green, through jade, to a tint of black-induced mauve.
Sensei Prerana used a beautiful  green ceramic nagiere vase and complimented it with the green anthurium and the pale green miniature chrysanthemums and button chrysanthemums.The mauve stamen is reflected in the mauve centres of the pink chrysanthemums which celebrates hue. The white tint is highlighted by baby's breath.
Sensei Trishala also worked with green, and the brown/rust in her vase was reflected in the chrysanthemums.
Chitra Thiagarajan used the white and brown of her vase (which is a bag!) as the base colour, to create this balanced and unique composition in white and brown.
Sensei Molly explored yellow with her wooden moribana vase, with the sunny yellow jerberas and the slightly deeper heliconia, the yellow/brown berries and the brown frond of the palm.

It was a challenging and interesting set of two workshops, working with single colours.

Next month's workshop theme is all leaf.