The theme for the ikebana exhibition at the Wintergarden this week has been Late Autumn Early Winter. One week ago the weather was very sunny and it was warm when the sunshine streamed in through the windows. The big change occurred on Thursday night when rain and cold wind set in for 24 hours. So our theme was appropriate for the weather.

Helen Quarrell made a freestanding structure to which she added nandina that has gone red in the cold weather.

Christine Denmead used the green spent flower heads of agapanthus in two black suibans.

Ellie Welkamp made an arrangement with bare branches and a single chrysanthemum in a ceramic hot water bottle.

Nola Bird arranged autumn toned Japanese maple with irises and chrysanthemums in a traditional wooden bucket.

Maureen Duffy arranged a single branch of small red pomegranate (oops. I mean Crab apple! (corrected 28th May)) in a modern black vase. (PS. A further amendment, 3rd June, regarding the red fruiting branch in Maureen Duffy's arrangement of last week. Maureen has identified it as a Washington Hawthorn - crataegus phaenopyrum.)

This week Laurie and I were delighted to be visited by our friends Kazuko and Minoru Suzuki from Nagoya. We had afternoon tea at Qdos Gallery in Lorne.

This is a welcoming ikebana arrangement, 'Omukeabana', I made for them using two branches of rose berries and a single white chrysanthemum in a glass vase. 

Greetings from Christopher
27th May 2012


Once again my students and I have changed the ikebana at the Wintergarden Gallery. This week the exhibition has the theme of emphasising space within the arrangement. It is a particularly important factor in ikebana. As Sofu Teshigahara reminds us: 'Ikebana is an art of space...between the branches...the flowers and leaves, and...between the masses.' Kadensho p 48.

The work below of bare branches without using a kenzan is by Ellie Welkamp.

This nageire arrangement by Maureen Duffy creates spaces from long loops of grass contrasted with dried branch branching material. 

Christine Denmead's arrangement of a dried Hakea branch creates an interesting space beneath the right hand side as well as at the top left side of the work 

I have used three large Monstera leaves to create an undulating line revealing spaces beneath them, in one of which is situated a 'crab claw' Heliconia.

As a westerner who teaches Ikebana, in my opinion, the creation of space is one of two design elements that distinguishes ikebana from traditional western floral art. The other being asymmetry. About the element of space the Sogetsu school text book says the following:  

'In Japanese painting and caligraphy, the role of space is something to be noted. The space or the blank is considered of equal importance as the work itself. 
The  same is true in ikebana. The open space such as the one between the branches or between the branches and the container is critically important.’ (Sogetsu Textbook 1-2 p. 95)

There are some interesting articles on the web that address this feature in ikebana. Two of them are: 'A Comparison between Asymmetric Japanese Ikebana and Symmetric Western Flower Arrangement' by Marie Moriyama and Megumi Moriyama at:

and part of a blog by Garr Reynolds called '10 design lessons from the art of ikebana'. It can be found at:

You can highlight and copy these addresses into the your internet search engine. I hope you find them interesting.

Greetings from Christopher 
20th May 2012


This week at the Wintergarden exhibition the theme is emphasising 'mass'. This was something of a challenge when we were doing work from the 'variations' of Book 1-2. However, as the examples of  the freestyle work below show, we enjoyed our individual interpretations of the exercise.

Ellie Welkamp made a mass of pink proteas and contrasted it with the mass  of lines from a palm spathe.onaxa

Christine Denmead made a mass using eucalyptus leaves.

Maureen Duffy created a mass from bunched sword grass with a single strelitzia flower peeking out of the mass.

Nola Bird made this mass from a variegated giant reed (arundo donax).

From Book one I made this slanting variation of Banksias from our garden. I made a mass of the flowers and seed pods to the right of the centre of the work and removed most of the leaves from the branches on each side to contrast with the mass. The cylindrical vase is by Graeme Wilkie of Qdos Gallery.

For a larger freestyle work I created a mass from the unopened 'buds' of Yate (Eucalyptus lehmannii)
and three of its green, mop like, flowers that had opened. I re-used the willow from last week, cut down to encircle the mass of the yate. The high shouldered vase is by Sergio Sill, an artist potter from New South Wales.

Greetings from Christopher.
13th May 2012


On Friday 4th May my students and I participated in a joint exhibition at the Wintergarden gallery in Geelong with an artist, Noel Broadway, who makes works on paper. His drawings and paintings are inspired by his visits to Japan. The exhibition runs for the month of May so we will have to change our work each week, with a different theme each week. As this is our first exhibition in Geelong we are making work from the beginning of the Sogetsu curriculum as well as the advanced part of the curriculum. This week we created ikebana works in which we emphasised the element of line.

The Wintergarden is an arts space housing an upper gallery and studio, a jewellery studio, a gift shop, a nursery and a cafe. The building dates from 1854 and was originally the McKillop St Congregational Church. It has a large interior space two stories high that now is lit by a central skylight that was installed in the building renovations of 1989. Below are some general pictures of the space.

Because of the nature of the space photography was very difficult. Each of the students made one piece that was displayed on a window shelf and a second piece that I have placed a sheet behind to photograph the work. The images below are of the students work in reverse alphabetical order with the book one/two exercise first in the pair. The first two are by Ellie Welkamp.

Christine Denmead.

Maureen Duffy.

Nola Bird.

We also made two larger sculptural pieces. Below is the work of Ellie Welkamp and Christine Denmead.

This work was made by me and Nola Bird. Unfortunately it was impossible to photograph it front on. 

The next two works are by me and were also impossible to get a better picture of even using a backdrop. The first is pine, a branch of 'crazy Filbert', Corylus contorta, and white chrysanthemum. 

This work is stripped 'weeping' willow, rose hip branches, golden chrysanthemum and Japanese maple.

Greetings from Christopher 
5th May 2012