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.

Shylaja - 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!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Kicking off after the summer, with a warm welcome to the new Consul General of Japan

18th July 2018

Mr Kojiro Uchiyama, welcomed with flowers of course!

The Study Group gathered again after the summer break, and what a nice way to kickstart our activities again!  We had the pleasure of a visit by the new Consul General of Japan and his wife, Mr Kojiro and Mrs Karen Uchiyama, accompanied by Ms Megumi Shimada, Consul for Cultural Affairs and Information, whom we all know as a well-wisher and friend of the Sogetsu Study Group.

Mrs Karen Uchiyama

This tea meeting was held at The Savera, a city hotel, who were helpful and accommodating of our needs for buckets, water and other odds and ends that are unique to Ikebana needs!

Mr and Mrs Uchiyama are no strangers to India, having served at the embassy in New Delhi several years ago.  In fact, they were familiar with our Sogetsu friends from New Delhi, and spoke fondly of the flower friendships and cooperation during their stay there.

The meeting was well attended, with 17 of our members joining in.

Our Chairperson Mrs Malathi Pandurang introduced the guests to the Group, and in turn, also introduced our Group and our activities to the guests.  Mr and Mrs Uchiyama gave us their remarks and we were  immediately  touched by their warmth and openness, as they shared their personal experiences of India and Ikebana with us.  They took time enjoying the Ikebana compositions put up by the Senseis, and also enjoyed dialogues with members over some hot tea and delicious bondas!  

We do look forward to many more such interactions, and of course working closely with the Consulate in the years to come.

Study Group Meeting and agenda

Our members assembled for our meeting, which preceded the tea reception with the chief guests.  The Senseis put up their freestyle compositions and then we got down to the business agenda.

The report of activities of the previous year were summed up by Ambika while Janaki presented the accounts.  She formally handed over the treasurership to Chelvi.  Programmes Secretary position was formally handed over by Divya to Bhuvana.  The Group was unanimous in wishing the new committee good luck and in thanking the previous office bearers for a job well done.

The freestyle exhibits

Sensei Malathi created a composition using the inner drum of her geyser - Oriental
lilies, Ixora leaves, Dracaena and Gypsophila.  The wabi sabi look of the container
drew a lot of comments!

Sensei Divya highlighted the driftwood line in this composition with Jerberas, Gyposphila and lily leaves.
Mrs Uchiyama appreciated the driftwood.

Prerana sensei created some magic with lights from within a cane ball placed on a fibreglass moribana container.
They provided soft backlights for the carnations and chrysanthemums.
An aged and blackened copper pot was used by Ambika sensei to create a circular movement with the use of
Hosta lily leaves and Gypsophila, swirling around the upright Asia lilies and chrysanthemums.

Sensei Padma complemented the beautiful glass container with a mass of Curry leaf (Murraya koenigii)
fruits.  Mrs Uchiyama was fascinated by this use of the common Indian spice leaf,
and Mr Uchiyama enjoyed the restrained simplicity of the composition.

It was wonderful to welcome back to active participation Meenakshi sensei, whom we have missed for a whole year,
for health reasons.  She used lilies and vine in this fibre glass basket.  

The riot of yellow, orange and pink colours that Janaki sensei so skilfully harmonised was a showstopper, and
delighted everyone!  She combined Gulmohar with two colours of bougainvillea in a ceramic vase.

Sensei Trishala highlighted the lines of Dieffenbachia leaves in her glass and
wood vase and complemented them with the lines of painted cane and Curly
willow, with the chrysanthemums adding a colour focus.

Molly sensei created a composition of dramatic lines with dried branches of Jasmine, beautifully balanced
with a mass of Combretum constrictum flowers and variegated spider plant leaves

Each composition was unique and different, and what a wonderful way for us to restart activities for the year!

We were hoping that Mr Ranganathan of ABK AOTS Dosokai would also be able to participate, but he was held up with family commitments, and sent us his best wishes.

Our August workshop has been fixed for 18th of this month at ABK Sakura Hall at 11 AM. Sensei Meenakshi Sarin will be doing the demonstration  and followed by the workshop by all members. The theme for the demo and workshop is "Hope in Adversity".