This week's ikebana is my work from a recent class that I attended with my teacher in Melbourne. The subject of the class was an arrangement that includes fruit and/or vegetables that are yellow and/or orange. Using fruit or vegetables is difficult. I remember the advice of Mr Umemura at a workshop in 2008 saying that this exercise should be 'playful'. With this in mind I decided a simple and non-naturalistic approach was necessary. 

I have used a branch of pittosporum with some berries attached from which I removed all but two leaves. A banana and orange have been placed to bring strength to the centre of the design and to counterbalance the curves of the unusual ceramic vase made by Graeme Wilkie of Qdos Gallery Lorne.

Greetings from 
24th March 2012


This week I gave the second last class for term one, 2012 to my students. I hold classes in a community centre in  the city of Geelong. We use the 'art classroom' which is a fairly large space. Because the walls are coloured and there are some notice boards on them we place use a large white board as a back-drop when I give correction to the students and to photograph the works. 

The class is a mixed one with some students working on the first half of the curriculum and other, advanced students, who have completed the Sogetsu curriculum. For these students I create a term program with different exercises each week. This program includes, among others, seasonally relevant exercises, work in preparation for exhibitions, work for particular settings and others using combined exercises from the Sogetsu curriculum books 3 and 4.

The first two pictures are nageire 'variations' by beginning students, Sayuri Gilmore and then Wendy Marshall. 

I set the advanced students the exercise of 'emphasising water - using a glass vase'. The pictures below were taken after 'correction'. The first work was made by Maureen Duffy, she has used the Australian Fire-wheel Tree (Stenocarpus Sinatus)
in a trough shaped vase. My correction was to raise the level of the water to the top of the trough and to remove a small side branch that was in between the two larger branches on the left.

The second work is by Christine Denmead. The 'correction' involved separating the two vases and adding the middle branch that joins them to improve the space within the work.

The third work is by Ellie Welkamp. The 'correction' was to raise the level of the water and mass the material in the bowl. This was necessary to stabilise the work and created a contrast between the two designs below and above the water.

The fourth work is by Nola Bird. This work initially only contained the material below the water level and was too minimal considering the size of the very large vase. So, we added the wire and flower above the surface of the water.

I was very pleased with the work of my students and it is always a pleasure at the end of the class to consider the wonderful range of expression in the room even when the students are doing he same exercise.

Greetings from Christopher
16th March 2012


Today is the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. One year ago on Friday 11th March at 2.46 pm the most powerful earthquake ever to have hit Japan, since modern records began in 1900, struck the Tohoku region northeast of Tokyo. Over fifteen thousand people died and more than three thousand are still missing.

It is in the nature of the human spirit that when communities are touched by suffering that people join together in support and compassion. I saw this many times during the three months that I spent in Japan during last year after the earthquake. Many stories of courage have been told and many stories will forever go unrecorded.
Today I have made an ikebana arrangement from the first lesson of the Sogetsu curriculum. I love its timeless, simple beauty. It is arranged in a suiban so that we are conscious of the surface of the water enlivening the work. The branch material I have chosen for this special day is rosemary from our garden because it is symbolic of remembrance. The flower is pink hibiscus.

Greetings from Christopher
11th March 2012

'Naked Lady' Amaryllis belladonna

This last week the weather has turned rather wintery and I have been very busy, so I have not been able to take any additional photographs.

The ikebana I have created is using an Amaryllis belladonna lily that is from our garden. So far only two flower stems have appeared this year. 

The story in my family about this flower is as follows: when my mother was in hospital waiting for me to be born, my grandmother was taking care of my two older brothers. Apparently my older brother went out to play and came home with a bunch of these lilies that he had found growing by the roadside. Grandma was worried that he had stolen them from somebodies' garden; so she made him take her to where he had found them. Sure enough, they were growing wild by the roadside near an old abandoned farm. Since then we have always had them in the garden and they often flower on my birthday.

Belladonas flower before the leaves appear, which is why they are known as 'Naked Lady Lilies', so I have added some bull rush leaves in this simple free-style. 

Greetings from Christopher 
5th March 2012