Tuesday, April 24, 2018


April 19th 2018

As summer has well and truly set in in our city, it was but appropriate to have a workshop with the theme of summer.  Ten members were present for the workshop.

Sensei Dalley kicked off our meeting with a pleasing demonstration, with dramatic driftwood in each arrangement.

Summer brought to mind the dry branches that await the rain.

She began with a moribana, no-kenzan arrangement in a ceramic suiban.  She spoke about looking to balance her driftwood pieces naturally without a fixture, that was her aim.

Sensei Dalley's first arrangement "Summer in the Woods", with the natural balance of the driftwood, the newly sprouting  leaves and flowers.

She had a most interesting anecdote about her second vase,  which as you can see, is a burl, hollowed out tree trunk!  This neem tree branch had grown around the iron angle that adorned her compound wall, and in fact enveloped it.  When cut, it revealed this lovely hollow!

Using the burl as vase, the browns of the orchid complemented the vase, while in the circular motion of her branches mirrored the patterns on the wood.

Using a copper plate that has oxidised with exposure to the air, sensei Dalley began her third composition with more driftwood.

Using the leaves of Sea Grape, she nestled a few carnations and created the effect of  shade under a large tree - something that is most welcome in the summer months.

Sensei Dalley wished to end with an offerring of two Chabana compositions.  These flowers from her garden were used to create the simple, natural look that is typical of the "thrown-in", nagiere style of chabana.

Sensei Dalley explained that flowers in chabana are usually seasonal and short-lived.

After that delightful demonstration, it was time for the members to try their hands at summer compositions.  It was interesting to see the various associations that people had with summer.

For Jyotsna, summer was the time for tall cool drinks maybe?  "The sun shines, but we have a cool state of mind, " she says.  Cherry tomatoes in a transparent vase, with the bright colours of summer.

For sensei Malathi, summer is reflected in her dry garden, fallen flowers, and the tenuous hold of new life.   She says,  "Dry hot winds made the dry leaves and flowers fall but those fallen on the water touched my heart."
Materials dracena and copsia. Shallow ceramic container
Bhuvana created this composition with mangoes, her best memory of summer!

"Scorching heat, Cold watermelon", says sensei Prerana, as she combined the fruit in a white porcelain vase, with a dry branch and maroon orchids.
For Sathya, the Copper Pod trees that line our streets are a strong summer scene.

And finally,  sensei Ambika showed a harsh summer, with the roots depicting the leafless trees, the dry dahlias symbolic of fallen leaves, and the bright sun that beats down on us.
The session was followed by fellowship and laughter over lunch, as we bade goodbye to each other, until we meet again on the other side of summer!

And here are some arrangements, with filters, just for some experimentation.

Aim is to highlight the yellow, in a painting-like effect.

Bringing out the colours of the fallen flowers

Red hot


A summer vignette

Monday, April 23, 2018

Our March meeting with election of new office bearers for the coming year

March 20th 2018

Four of our members had travelled to Delhi to witness the demonstration of  Iemoto designate of Ichiyo school, Naohiro Kasuya.  Watching and absorbing techniques and approaches of other schools of Ikebana is always a enriching experience.

For our March meeting, the members hsared heir experiences, pictures and impressions of this demonstration with other members.  The emphasis on natural balance and the Iemoto designate's artistic interpretations of his impressions of India were fascinating and enjoyable. 

This was followed by our election agenda.

There was unanimous election of the following:

Chairperson - Mrs Malathi Pandurang 
Deputy Chairperson - Mrs Ambika Chandrasekar
Secretary - Mrs Bhuvana Shivshankaran
Treasurer - Mrs Chelvi Gopinath

They will take over in June 2018, for the 2018 to 2020 period.

Exhibition report

23rd and 24th Feb 2018

The Sogetsu Study Group Chennai had its annual exhiition at Focus Art Gallery in Egmore.  It was our first time exhibiting in this gallery, and members enjoyed the aesthetic ambience. 

Our exhibition pictures are here.

Click on the link above to see the gallery of pictures, regarding the inaugurations, the visitors and the compositions.  Short videos on the speeches by our chief guests are also in the album.

It was a colourful and memorable affair!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Preview for our exhibition

Our exhibition opens tomorrow

A curtain-raiser

In the spirit of the rising sun

“Ikebana is an ancient art, which entered Japan along with Buddhism. The flowers used were traditional ones, like azaleas, offered to the deity in monasteries,” explains Malathi Pandurang, chairperson of the Sogetsu Study Group.
Pandurang goes on to describe how, in an ancient monastery in Kyoto, a priest sat observing a pond and the flowers that grew on it. It occurred to him to use both these as elements of art , “which is why the art form is called Ikebana; ‘ike’ means water and ‘bana’ refers to plant material.” Pandurang has been practising this art for the past four decades, and follows the Sogetsu school of Ikebana. It is one of myriad schools, each with its set of rules and techniques of arrangement. Through her study group, Pandurang and her team have been working to learn, teach and spread this art in Chennai.
“Chennai weather is the biggest deterrent,” she says, adding, “The advantage is that no other city has foliage like this. So, we use more of greens and less of flowers in our work.”
The other reason for this choice of style is the availability of flowers in the region. “Unlike our tropical flowers, which are strong in scent but with short lives, traditional Japanese flowers would last in the the monasteries for a week,” she says. In Chennai, the team uses pre-cut flowers, as well as fresh seasonal flowers. “The seasonal peacock flower is one of those we prefer to give students who are just starting out,” she says.
Her authority on the subject is well founded. Over the years, Pandurang has stayed in touch with every single Iemoto — or grandmaster — of the original Sogetsu school in Japan, and witnessed the direction each one took the art form towards.
“Founded by Sofu Teshigahara, the school has thrived under four different Iemotos,from the Teshigahara family. The title of Iemoto is hereditary, and can be translated as “grandmaster” or “founder”, she says via email, “Founder Sofu was attracted by old, worm-eaten wood, what he called ‘Nature’s Sculpture’, favouring the camellia flower. Daughter Kasumi loved lacquer-ware, especially the traditional Japanese handcart, and her heart went to small, light-coloured flowers which she would use in abundance. Son Hiroshi on the other hand, with a background in film-making and ceramics, loved to work with bamboo, and the Sogetsu displays became bold, large and dynamic. Hiroshi’s daughter Akane, is the current Iemoto , and she has moved further creatively, experimenting with combining other art forms and highlighting the process of creation itself.”

The Chennai Sogetsu Study Group will showcase its work at an exhibition ‘Exploring Movement, Expressing Shakti’ at Focus Art Gallery, on February 23 and 24.

Flowers for a Pharaoh
Flower arranging dates back to ancient Egypt. Apparently, the Egyptians were the first to cut and place flowers in a vase to decorate and add colour to their surroundings.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Using man-made material

January 19th 2018

Our first workshop of 2018, and it was an exciting way to kick off the year!  In keeping with the artistic principles of Sogetsu Ikebana, the challenge was to use only man-made material in our compositions.

Ten members of the Study Group assembled for the workshop.  Sensei Prerana started us off  with a demonstration of the theme, and her four compositions were each different, unique and creative, giving the group many ideas for the future.

Each arrangement was accompanied by an interesting narrative which helped us viewers understand the artist's mind.

As she began her first composition, Sensei Prerana said, "I was visiting a craft exhibition recently and I saw a craftsman making bookmarks with different coloured wires.  A thought struck me that I should use these wires.  I ran the next day and literally cajoled the craftsman to sell a few meters of the wires.  While I was very excited with the material,  I still had no idea what to do with them.  At night about 2pm a thought came.  I got up rolled a piece of wire round a thick rolling pin.  Lo and behold it took the shape of a flower.  Happily went back to sleep!"

An arrangement using a glass vase, a fruit bowl, a wine bottle and hand crafted
flowers made from coloured aluminium wires.  Emphasis on using unconventional material.

Her next piece was with fibre glass sheets and Prerana recounted visiting the hardware store and making him cut it into the shapes that she wanted.

The hardware shopkeeper was nonplussed at her requirements, as there was a lot of wastage and unused bits from the sheet!

She used a ceramic container to give structure to the composition and placed the sheets of various shapes in order to create an abstract composition of geometric shapes.

Fibreglass sheets in an abstract, modern composition.

Titled "Hope", this dramatic composition used the discarded wooden frames from her decoupage craft to signify the waste
and destruction that natural calamities have caused.  In the midst of this desolate scene, hope always arises, signified by the
bottle and its floral design.

"Stolen pleasures of childhood" was the theme of this last composition, with bottles of coloured 'forbidden' drink
and the flowers representing the innocence of childhood. 

Sensei Prerana with her very different and exciting compositions!

It was on to the workshop.

Sensei Padma used woven mats and a fan from Manila to create this composition with drama and movement,
with an upside-down pedestal as base.

Sensei Malathi was inspired by the hardware store,
making use of plastic drain heads for mass, wire for lines and steel
scrubbers as well!

Chelvi titled this as "The confused mind" creating mass and colour with decorative party material

Sensei Molly used painted material on a base of wood to create a table arrangement, with the silk pink flowers
in contrast to the brown and gold.

Sensei Trishala created this elegant composition with festive coloured wires
creating beautiful swirls on lines created by plastic wire.
Sensei Ambika's "Wishing Tree" contrasted
the golden box with the  tall painted  branches
festooned with coloured thread. A small
jewelled button and the golden mesh cloth
softened the sharp line of the box.

Bhuvana used the tray from her oven, with a wine bottle and woven coir
to create dramatic movement.

Sensei Divya created a mass of steel lines to complement her container, with the golden flower and leaf bunch adding
a focal point.
It was an invigorating start to 2018, and whilst we initially wondered how we could work without flowers, it was a challenge well met!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The challenge of glass containers

December 21st  2017

The last workshop for 2017 was held on December 21st   at ABK Hall, Chennai.  Eight members   were present and Chitra Rajan, who attended the workshop in Delhi by Sensei Yoko Hosono on curriculum updation, shared with us her experiences of Sensei's demo and narratives. She commented how Sensei Hosono noted that simplicity is the key, and one should consider the three lines as representing the materials, the artist and the viewer.

Chitra Rajan sharing her experience of Sensei Yoko Hosono's demo
Thank you Chitra for the crisp and lively presentation.

Sensei Ambika took over the second half of the workshop to present a slide show and demonstrate on the day's theme. A visit to Seattle, USA, is incomplete without a day at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. She  had the opportunity to be there and gave  the group a virtual tour through the fascinating world of glass in hundreds of colours and designs. As students and teachers of Ikebana, the series Cylinders and Baskets  was of special interest to observe the colours, shapes and how we could relate to them through Ikebana.  Her experiences can be found here.  

           To know more about Dale Chihuly and his works click here.  

Ambika then gave a demo on the workshop theme, “The Challenge of Glass Containers” to showcase the beauty of this fragile but truly versatile material.

Her first arrangement was with a beautiful yellow-orange glass vase with interesting detail.  This was her reaction to the Chihuly experience

The vase as the inspiration
The glass Iwata vase belongs to her mother, and  reminded Ambika of the Chihuly glass creations.  she contrasted this with the tangled roots of lady's finger plants and complemented the warm colour  with orange heliconia and brown shades of dried hydrangea.  It was a well balanced arrangement adding height and space.

Twists and turns make an eye catching statement

An elegant transparent glass nageire vase was the focus of the second piece. Ambika stressed that the ikebanist  has to ensure  the materials are arranged aesthetically, since whatever is placed in this container will show through the water and glass. Both have to be spotlessly clean and stems inside the vase should also form part of the composition. She  achieved this effortlessly,  creating a striking piece with hosta leaves artistically arranged and purple and white flowers to provide balance

Ambika’s final piece was  a table arrangement wit a Christmas theme in a glass fruit bowl, with red anthuriums, gypsophilia and boxwood leaves to create a simple yet striking piece that looked equally beautiful from all angles. The three pictures give a fair idea of this.

The group then moved on to their arrangements.

Sensei Mrs. Malathi Pandurang used a transparent glass vase for heliconia and dracaena creating dramatic lines. Bundled up dracaena leaves and a hint of gypsophilia provided  artistic tension to the arrangement.

Simple elegance of white and green in a transparent glass

Chitra Rajan chose a transparent glass for her single white zerbera
that stood out against the hosta leaf and delicate frond of  fern.

Pushkala used a tall nageire glass vase with rolled leaves to create interesting lines
 reflected in the green lines of eunonymous, green chrysanthemums and a bunch of ixora 
for the colour highlight.

Divya Selvam’s artistic weaving of colourful dressing leaves with a hint of white 
from the temple tree flower was deceptively simple and could sit proudly
 on any drawing room table. It looks beautiful viewed from any angle.

Pretty maids all in a row 

Tall mineral water bottles in transparent glass was Prerana Mehta’s choice and three of them in a row with dried branches for lines, gypsophilia a single orchid for colour was truly a work of art.                                         

Janaki Rao made two arrangements—one using a deep red tea light holder
 and offset it with gypsophilia and a few blooms of temple flower and leaves. 
The use of  Christmas colours was apt for the season.

Welcoming the festive season with
Christmas colours

Look at me...I can fly!
          She used a transparent pickle jar with a single stem of  heliconia
          and dracaena leaves   with an interesting twist.

Pushkala's Second piece