With the exception of the first picture, this week I am focusing on larger sculptural works my students and I created at this years exhibition at Qdos Gallery in Lorne. The works are each designed by an individual but created with the collaborative assistance of others. 

The first ikebana, in the gallery foyer, for the current exhibition is this arrangement of two orchid flowers and three magnolia leaves in a unique vessel created by Graeme Wilkie. He has created flower shapes in clay that sit in holes in a ceramic slab. The slab is supported on acrylic pillars as the 'flower stems' protrude below the slab. To create a sense of lightness and space Christine Denmead has left half of the ceramic flowers empty.

In this next work Helen Quarrell has used another of Graeme Wilkie's ceramic slabs to create a large sculptural piece, using olive wood branches from her garden and highlighted with two triangles of yellow fabric. It looks simple but we spent most of the first day creating the piece.

Ellie Welkamp created this sculptural work below using poplar branches. She has emphasised the shape of the vessel by reflecting it with more poplar branches in the piece on the wall behind.

This work uses 'tumble weed' gathered by my student Maureen Duffy and is also arranged by Ellie Welkamp on a large ceramic 'pebble'. A great feeling of movement and lightness was achieved.

Christine Denmead made this sculptural work using branches of a large tree from her garden that are covered with greeny-gold lichen (I think it is a Maple). The two principal lines on the left echo the left hand curve of the large ceramic sculpture by Graeme Wilkie. 

This close-up image shows the lichen on the branches and the fern-like curl at the top of the sculpture.

The large ceramic sculpture below with its wave like top inspired me to make this angular arrangement of birch branches on the left that shoot out from the curl of the wave in straight lines on the right. 

Greetings from Christopher 
29th September 2012


My students and I have been especially busy over the past week setting up our work for the opening of the ninth Ikebana at Qdos exhibition. This year our unifying concept was to use the colour yellow or to use curving lines in the works we created. The ceramics produced by Graeme Wilkie included a great variety of forms. The glazes and surfaces were mostly warm earthy tones that we were able to complement with the botanical materials we had chosen.

These first two images are of Graeme addressing the approximately 70 people who attended the opening. 

An opening address was given by Wayne Crothers, one of the curators of Asian Art from the National Gallery of Victoria. He spoke about the Japanese aesthetics that underpin the type of ceramics that Graeme Wilkie creates and that connects to the principles of Sogetsu Ikebana.

Below is an example of one work by each of my students and me in the exhibition.

Above is an arrangement of sweeping lines of willow and arum lilies in a shino-glazed vessel, created by Nola Bird.

This work was created by Ellie Welkamp using three circles divided by lines of poplar branches, areas of coloured paper and open space. The narrow porcelain cylinder is incised with cross-hatched lines in pale blue-grey against a warm orange surface.

Here Helen Quarrell has used lichen covered branches, dried lotus leaves and green orchids with a yellow centre in a large irregularly faceted vase that stands on three inverted conical feet.

Christine Denmead has used branches of weeping elm and orange clivia flowers in a tall, narrow vessel with a grey-green surface and occasional orange markings.  

I made this morimono ('piled things') work, using lemons and an agave leaf supported by a piece of carrot. The playful work sits on a unique slab dish on pyramidal legs. 

Here we are  at the opening: from the left. Nola Bird, Christine Denmead, me, Ellie Welkamp and Helen Quarrell.

Greetings from Christopher 
23rd September 2012
(More exhibition pictures next week)

Mister Lincoln

As I mentioned last week my students and I are preparing for the annual combined exhibition of ceramics and ikebana at the Qdos Gallery in Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. The opening of the exhibition is 2.00pm on Sunday 23rd September. Below is a picture of the anagama kiln during its week long cool down phase after the recent five days of firing. We will be making ikebana to go in or with the ceramics from the this years firing.

The kiln is nine meters long and large enough for me to stand upright inside at its highest point. Here is how it looks during the firing with the main door open to feed wood into the base of the kiln. 

The simple arrangement below is of two Mister Lincoln roses from our garden that were the first buds to flower this season. I planted this bush, when we were establishing our garden about 25 years ago, especially for the sweet apple-like fragrance of the flowers.

This image of the same work on a sideboard is more accurate to the colours of the flowers. The beaker shaped bizen vase is one that I bought at Gora near Hakone last year, it was made by Ishida Kazuya from Okayama.

Greetings from Christopher (at Qdos Kiln)
15th September 2012


The ninth annual exhibition of ikebana and ceramics at Qdos Gallery in Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road, will take place during the school holidays (23rd September to 7th October). I have therefore visited the gallery to talk to the ceramic artist Graeme Wilkie and recently drove around a corner in the road to be confronted by a large 'black wattle' in full bloom looking like a wall of gold and green. It was a most spectacular and uplifting sight. The tree pictured below must be at least eight metres high.

Below is a picture of an unusual wattle planted by a local resident who has a large variety of wattles. I don't think I have seen this one before and I think the long sweeping branches have great ikebana possibilities.

A couple of weeks ago I bought some orange roses to use in a demonstration for my new  students. They have a lovely touch of green on the outer petals. Here is a single bloom in a small vase I brought in Seto City, Aichi Prefecture Japan, a few years ago.

I made this freestyle using the roses and a dead boxthorn branch that was heavily encrusted with yellowish lichen. (Boxthorn is not native to Australia and is a problematic weed.)

Here is the work again after I removed a leaf on the left side that was interfering with the space created by the boxthorn. The six sided ceramic vase has a temoku glaze and is from Japan. 

A visitor really liked it on this shelf because of the shadow made by the boxthorn.

Greetings from Christopher 
8th September 2012.


Recently I came across this wonderful mass of Japonica in a garden near my office. It continues for about eight metres along the fence line of a 70 year old house and is over three metres high. This  must have part of the original planting in the garden. Japonica is a joy to see in the depths of winter, having such beautiful simple flowers and delightful lines on the leafless branches.

In our garden we have a darker red Japonica, that is has finally begun to spread and have enough mass for me to pick some branches.

We now have this white one also, which is flowering for the second time.

This next photo' is a 'basic upright' arrangement, reversed. That is, the materials are placed in the righthand side of the suiban. I have added some Camellia leaves to give some mass in the centre of the work.

The correction for this arrangement is that I have not allowed clear enough spaces between the three principal lines. Also the leafless branches in the photograph disguise the fact that the right and left branches extend forward toward the viewer. (text added 5th Sept).

This freestyle below is made with a single long branch that had a really beautiful shape. I have only done a little pruning of some of the smaller branchlets to emphasise the main line. It looked very striking in this black vase at the end of a corridor.

Greetings from Christopher.
1st September 2012