Monday, December 24, 2018

Ringing out 2018, with Hagumi style

Tuesday 18th December 2018

Japanese Narcissus is a traditionally loved material by Ikebana artists in Japan, and is used in early spring arrangements.  Book 5 shows the technique of hagumi, to arrange these flowers and their lanceolate leaves.  Sensei Molly Cherian took on the task of demonstrating this style using materials available locally in her garden.  She explained that she was fascinated by the lily family, and the arrangements of Narcissus, and wanted to replicate the effect.

Using Yucca leaves and Canna flowers from her garden she showed us the process of disassembling the inner leaves and then reassembling it in the way the artists wants it.  Eleven of us watched with fascination as sensei Molly showed the removal of the hakama (sheath) and she worked with deftness in putting back the leaves in the manner in which she wished, inserting back into the hakama, before placing it in the vase.

This was the first composition, with Canna and Yucca leaves, and duranta leaves lower down.
The leaves are arranged in a  circular fashion, and she chose to show the water which is
part of the composition.

Her second composition was in a larger suiban, using Sans savera leaves and gladioli flowers in
a kabuaki style.  
Her arrangements were elegant and pleasing, and in true Ikebana style we were drawn to observe and enjoy the lines and interplay of the leaves with one another, and the water and container.

In the workshop, members used the lanceolate leaves of lily family, though unable to try the typical hagumi method with the hakama.  

Sensei Padma used Gladioli with Amaryllis leaves, and it was lovely
to see the turns of each leaf.

Sensei Ambika worked with Amaryllis lilies and leaves, from her garden, using the dry and young leaves to
recreate her mental picture of the pot in her garden.

Sensei Molly used water hyacinth leaves with Asia Lily flowers in
a third arrangement.

Chitra Rajan called this the Dance of spring - Birds nest, angelonium, canna indica and plumbago.
Ceramic moribana tray

Jyotsna use the flowers, pods and leaves of Canna, complementing
the fiery red of the inner surface of the container.

Sensei Trishala experimented with twin vases and a single vase with orchids and lily leaves.

Bhuvana used Kale and spider lily leaves, with a Gladioli flower

Pushkala recreated a pond scene with Oleander flowers and lily leaves beautifully
balancing the driftwood.

Sensei Malathi used Bird's Nest fern for lance shaped leaves in its natural form and
 vinca rosa bereft of its leaves, from her garden.  She placed them as she saw them,
growing together

Sensei Prerana created a festive feel 

Chelvi used the spring onion leaves which also have the sheath, and created a
morimono with cauliflower and Kale!
Tucking into seklas from Prerana, Mysore pak from Pushkala and refreshing fruit juice from Jyotsna, it was a satisfying end to the workshop, and to 2018.

Happy New year to all our readers!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Celebrating Indo-Japan ties, the Ikebana way

November 29th 2018

Sensei Malathi was requested to create a celebratory Ikebana piece, for the reception hosted by the Consulate of Japan in Chennai, on the occasion of the birthday of the Emperor of Japan.

Using a nagiere vase with a golden sheen seemed appropriate for the celebration.

Sensei Malathi opted to use ixora branches, with anthurium flowers, sprays of gypsophila, and buds of Oriental Lily for this gorgeous composition.

Consul General Uchiyama makes his opening remarks, flanked by the arrangements done by Cherie Venkatesan of the Ohara school and Malathi of the Sogetsu.  The arrangements aptly depict the national colours of both the countries. 

Mr Uchiyama emphasised the long and deep ties between the two countries.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Balancing Lines - November workshop

November 15th 2018

Twelve members me for the November workshop, under the threat of cyclone Gaja, which turned out to be a non-starter over Chennai.  Our theme was "Balancing Lines", and this was to be followed by a presentation of the visit of our members to Delhi to attend the workshop conducted by Christopher Lim.

Here are the creations:

Sensei Divya - Bamboo branches and garden leaves with pink chrysanthemums, in a black ceramic
container emphasising lines in various forms.

Ambika - Continuing experimenting with car air filters as
base.  The horizontal lines contrasted with the vertical
lines of painted branches, and balanced by the green mass at the

Chitra Thiagarajan - Bamboo sticks tied together and placed on a ceramic brown vase,
along with the delicate creeper, ornamental balls, and a small bunch of bougainvillea pink flowers
Jyotsna - Dried coffee branches balanced on the walls of red container
with  a branch of orchid to add some colour.

Bhuvana - Eranthemum branches  balanced against each other in a  moribana

Sensei Malathi balanced dracena and heliconia lines in a rectangular red Sogetsu vase.
Roopa - Abstract arrangement in a triangular container with slanting lines and a gerbera for colour.

Sensei Molly - 3 dried Buddha belly Bamboo branches,
interlocked around a ceramic bowl for balance.
Single tall heliconium standing upright and
few orchid leaves at the base are arranged to give depth.

Sensei Prerana - Soft floral container enhancing the dry sticks, yellow chrysanthemums
and one large dark red anthurium. And I have used one green fern.

Chitra Rajan - Clumps of tall grass thinning upwards, balanced by  horizontal translucent
plastic straws  matching the  container. A branch slanting diagonally
forward gives relief to the arrangement.  Pink carnations in their midst.

Sensei Meenu - Two dried heliconia branches interlocked with
dried cannonball vine in a yellow fibreglass container with
 red Anthriums for colour

This was followed by some tasty refreshments, and after some technical hurdles, we managed to take a look at the pictures of the Delhi demonstration of sensei Christopher Lim, where he focussed on balancing lines, and the creation of large structures.  Or members who attended the demo and workshop - Prerana, Meenu, Trishala and Jyotsna - explained with the help of a slideshow some of the highlights of what they experienced.

We missed those who did not attend, and look forward to our December meeting.

Monday, November 5, 2018

October exhibition

The Chennai Sogetsu Study Group took part in the Japan Cultural & Sports Festival on 27th & 28th October 2018, organised by the Consulate-General of Japan in Chennai and the ABK AOTS Dosokai Tamil Nadu centre.

The festival included a mini marathon, demonstrations of Judo, karate and Kobudo, film screenings, Origami, bonsai and our Sogetsu Ikebana as well.  There were 14 exhibits done by members.

Arrangement pictures are up on our Facebook page, which can be accessed here.

Creative interpretations with banana leaves - Our September workshop

September 22nd 2018
ABK AOTS Dosokai hall

Banana leaves are an integral part of Indian culture and flora and diet as well.  We Indians use all parts of the banana plant, from using the leaves as plates, to eating the bananas as fruits, cooking the raw ones as vegetable, and using the flower and stem in our cooking! Banana stem fibre used to be used to tie flower garlands too.

As a Study Group we have not used this material in Ikebana, and so Ambika decided to experiment with that in her demonstration.  Thirteen members were present.  She used the surface in various ways.

"Invocation" - this was her first composition.  The fresh, young banana
leaf was the calm that she hoped for, as she focused
her mind, symbolised by the white lotus pith, to help her creativity
that would bear fruit, symbolised by the vibrant anthurium.

"Indian wedding" Using bottles painted beautifully by her niece, Ambika used the colours of
auspiciousness - red, yellow and green to recreate an Indian wedding,
with the fairy lights adding the glow of happiness that a wedding symbolises.
The wide strong green surface of the banana leaf was offset by the cheerful yellow
chrysanthemums, and the gypsofilia brought innocence and romance to the composition.

"Prayer flags" - A visit to any Himalayan state is not complete if one does not come across the prayer flags
of the Buddhists gaily flapping in the breeze.  The banana leaves with the shredded edges
reminded one of those flags, and this was the aim with which Ambika chose the
vase with which to work as well.

The last composition was titled "Tropical Salute", emphasising bold vibrant lines, large colourful
flowers Strelitzia and torch ginger, and maybe some birds as well, symbolised by the white
It was then the turn of the  members to work with banana leaves.

Sensei Prerana created this gorgeous composition in brown, using banana leaves that she patiently waited to dry
and take some beautiful shapes.

Sensei Malathi used board pins to recreate a starry sky from her childhood.

Sensei Divya softened the surface with gypsofilia that
complemented the vase as well.

Sensei Molly used the banana leaf inside a glass vase,
creating a completely different effect.

Sensei Trishala used green and brown leaves to create this dynamic composition.

Mohan tried using the banana leaves in a modification of the Open style.

Jyotsna's experiment with cutting the leaves created a sailboat-like effect, beautifully.

Sensei Meenu used strips of the leaf to carry forth her design.

Shylaja complemented the vase colour with the flowers

And this dramatic composition was done by Chelvi, for whom the driftwood and dry banana leaves created
a stunning colour composition.

Bhuvana was able to create a line out of the banana leaf, quite unusual interpretation from the rest.
It was indeed a wide variety of interpretations and it was a satisfying workshop indeed.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Hope in Adversity - our theme for the month

18th August 2018

Fifteen members gathered for our August monthly meeting.  The agenda this time was a demonstration by sensei Meenakshi Sarin on the theme go Hope in Adversity, and a workshop to follow in the same theme.

The Study Group was delighted to welcome back Meenu after her  convalescence and absence from the meetings, and it was an apt title for her personal experiences of the last year.

She was assisted by her student Shylaja, and her heartfelt narration that accompanied her compositions inspired all of us who were present.
Sensei Meenu's first composition was this freestyle Nagiere.  The adversity was represented by the black vase which seemed to envelop her life.  However, through every nook and cranny, there was an outpouring of hope, symbolised by the white branches moving strongly upwards.  The contribution of friends, family, doctors and Ikebana were represented by the flowers, each unique and different and special.  The Asia Lily is like the lights on the operation table that are imprinted in her mind.

She started on her second composition which was a moribana arrangement, with the placement of a large driftwood, which for sensei Meenu, symbolised the state of mind and body, twisted and moving in all directions.
As she went on to complete this composition, she spoke about the therapeutic role of Ikebana in her recover, and while her mound was clouded (represented by the Gypsophilia), her flower friends energised and brought focus and hope to her, which she represented with the red, vibrant anthuriums

As she started on her third composition, sensei Meenu narrated the Greek myth of Pandora and the box of evils, which she opens and thus releases miseries on humanity.  In the poem by Hesiod, Works and Days, he narrates that one item did not escape the jar:
Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house,
she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not
fly away. Before [she could], Pandora replaced the
lid of the jar. This was the will of aegis-bearing
Zeus the Cloudgatherer.
(Read more here.)
Sensei Meenakshi interprets the box of Pandora, with Hope still within, as sufferings and misery are inflicted on us.

With her three arrangements, each different in character and narrative.
It was then time for the workshop.

Chitra Rajan's composition with the blue flowers showing the fragility of hope as it clings on, despite adversity, symbolised by the driftwood and the leaf that is in decay.

Sensei Malathi wished to convey that the glass vase is the hope she clings on to as it seems that life is ebbing out of  her favourite plant in her garden.

Chitra Thiagarajan used the dried stalk of nungu (Palmyra palm) to represent adversity in her table arrangement without a vase.  The bright red head of ixora emerging as hope.

For Jyotsna, the jerberas stood out as rays of sunshine/hope despite the adversity in which it is grounded.

For Sensei Padma, sensei Meenu's narrations were close to home.  She used the vase with a narrow mouth to represent how adversity surrounds our hearts, bodies and mind, and seems to take us down, until the flowers of hope emerge out, and we begin to believe and be optimistic once again.

Sensei Ambika worked with the adversities that face Nature itself. The carton boxes symbolise the garbage we are generating, as also the willow lines - like metal and concrete everywhere.  In this bleak scenario, Hope blooms as a single aedinium flower.

Sensei Molly relived the adversity of the floods that wrecked her home and garden.  As life struggled to return to normal, Hope in the form of the single flower gave her courage to move on and rebuild.

Natural adversity affecting us was also the theme of sensei Prerana's composition that narrated the situation of the floods in Kerala, with the blue inner surface of the moribana vase representing the rising flood encircling human life, and causing damage, as can be seen y the crack in the inner brown vase. Hope and rescue came from the air, and the large white chrysanthemum is giving hope and succour to all those in adversity.

Sensei Janaki experimented with creating the adversity of the desert where hope is in the form of an oasis.

Bhuvana used a single spray of white flowers to symbolise Hope.

Sensei Trishala also interpreted hope in the adversity of the Kerala floods.
For Shylaja, hope rises strong and vibrant winning over adversity. 

We were all delighted to meet our outstation member Venkatesh, for whom time seems to stand still!. We hope he will be able to make it for a few more of our workshops, and also participate!