I was surprised recently when I looked for the source of an odd piercing noise outside the bathroom window to see this colourful Australian King Parrot. It was eating seeds from a Billardiera heterophylla. In recent years there has been an increasing number of parrots in our garden because in the 1970's and 80's many people started planting Australian native plants in their gardens. When we planted this twisting vine about 25 years ago it was known as Sollya heterophylla. This particular one has a pale blue flower.

The parrot was startled by my movements and flew to the top of our pergola. 

In the following week I had set my students the exercise of using vine in an arrangement and, coincidently, Christine used some of the same vine in her arrangement. The first photo below is before correction.

Here it is again after correction. As you can see the irises have been neatened up. Christine wanted the flowers to make a mass contained within the volume of the vine.

She has created a good feeling of space both within the vine and around the work.

Ellie used a very different approach, emphasising the vine by using only one length with a beautiful curve. She has thus created a sense of the space above the vase. The lines are off-set by intensely red autumn leaves.

This weekend the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School has been very busy with two days of workshops given by Mr Yoshiro Umemura from Sydney. I will post some photos from the workshops next week.

Greetings from Christopher
27th July 2014


On the south coast of Victoria it is very wintery at present. Two days ago the maximum temperature was only 7 degrees Celsius. I write this for the benefit of readers from the northern hemisphere who may think that Australia is perpetually sunny and that we all go to the beach every weekend. The nearby creek at Torquay has a small flow. It is really an intermittent creek because it has a small catchment area and the rainfall is fairly low.  Recently it has been blocked by a sandbar so that the water level came slightly over the boardwalk. In the photo below you can see the waves breaking beyond the sandbar.

Our shoes got slightly wet when we crossed the boardwalk.

Then there was rain overnight and the sandbar was washed away.

At the workshop of the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School last week the theme was to use corky Elm to make a framework to support other material, in a suiban. Below is the structure I made.

 I have posted a few other photos from the workshop that you can see on the Sogetsu website under the heading "Recent Workshops" (click on the blue text). A couple of days later I went to my teacher's class where our exercise was an arrangement with 'red and green'. It proved to be a good opportunity to re-work the materials more to my satisfaction. As you can see I have trimmed the branches, added a lot more cotoneaster berries to make a more dense mass and contrasted the straight lines with the soft curves of two sedge leaves.

I think this arrangement also suits the season of winter that we are enjoying(?) at the moment.

Greetings from Christopher
19th July 2014

P.S. My colleague, Emily Karanikolopoulos, who recently returned from Tokyo, will continue to post on her blog. There is a link on the righthand side of this blog.


In my posting on 31st May I showed a photograph of a sculpture by Sofu Teshigahara that I used in the Sogetsu School Victorian Branch 50th Anniversary Exhibition (click on the blue text to see that posting). Below is a photo from a booklet of Sofu's 1967 visit to Australia in which he has used several similar sculptures together in an arrangement. 

Some visitors to the exhibition from Sydney told me that these sculptures were assembled to create a large single assembled work. Below is a photograph of similar sculptures that are described as being from Sofu's 'Kojiki' series. The sculptured wood in the photograph appear to be in a natural state and do not seem to be covered with aluminium sheeting. They have been set in the Plaza in front of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

At the beginning of last week I attended the monthly meeting of Ikebana International in Melbourne. The guest speaker was Jane Sawyer, a Victorian based ceramic artist who, as a post graduate art/craft teacher, served a two year apprenticeship at the Shussai-Gama pottery in Shimane, Japan 1985 - 1987. She gave a wonderful presentation about her work and the aesthetic of the 'mingei' movement that forms the philosophical basis of that pottery.

At the meeting members created ikebana in ceramic vessels from their own collections that had special meaning for them. Below is my ikebana in a ceramic bottle made by Akutsu Tadao that I bought in Mashiko in 2011.

To see images of other ikebana at the meeting click on the blue text Ikebana International.

Greetings from Christopher
12th July 2014


On the second day of the workshops I gave in Brisbane recently the focus was on construction. A variety of techniques were practised depending on the type of material the individual attendee wanted to use. In the morning each person created a sculptural form which then became the basis of an ikebana work in the afternoon session. I must say I am always quietly amused when ikebanists get out their power tools to start their flower arranging!

The next two photos show finished works after the critiquing process. In the first photo gymea leaves only, were used in loose and open loops to keep a light feeling to the work and not to distract from the texture of the woody branches. 

In the next example flowers were added. However, the shallow vase was rotated so that the wooden sculpture was clearly the subject of the work rather than the flowers. 

The next few photographs show the development of the sculptural work in the morning session and then its final use in the afternoon session. The fine bamboo shown below was fixed with dowels made from fine skewers.

The bamboo sculpture was brought to the front of the design and the arrangement simplified in the final version of the work.

Below partially charred lengths of melaluca (paperbark trees) were secured to nails driven through a red painted board. 

As you can see below, this work reminds the viewer of the aftermath of a bushfire. A single stem of curly poinsettia flowers has been added.

The bamboo below had sufficiently thick walls that doweling has been used to invisibly secure short pieces.

The result is an abstract sculptural form to which some lotus pods were added for colour and textural variation.

Three lengths of branch were secured with dowels in the example below. 

Unfortunately the photos do not show the beautiful texture of the wood which was the principal point of interest. A single New Zealand flax leaf was added to the side of the work which provides a strong contrast that does not interfere with the woody material floating above the cylindrical vase.

In the example below magnolia branches have been doweled and wired together together to create a spherical mass. This was a deliberate choice to avoid simply relying on the natural beauty of the lines of the material. 

In the final work a strong line has been added to one side and a white camellia budflower and some leaves to create textural and colour contrast. 

This week's posting is a continuation of last week's that you can view by scrolling down further. It may be necessary to click on the 'archive' for June. I would like to thank the participating members of the Queensland Branch of the Sogetsu Teacher's Association (click blue text to view their website) for letting me share their workshop experience with you.

Greetings from Christopher
5th July 2014

P.S. You can see Emily Karanikolopoulos' final blog posting of her three months at Sogetsu Headquarters by clicking on the blue text: Emily in Tokyo.