Monday, December 18, 2017

Seeing Sensei Hosono at work - our Delhi visit

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!

December 13th

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.

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.