Last week I was asked why this blog is named 'roadside ikebana'. At the time I began studying Sogetsu Ikebana in Melbourne (2001), I was driving into the countryside on a regular basis in the course of my work. On these trips my 'ikebana eyes' would often notice material growing by the side of the road that would be suitable for my next class, which I would then collect and put in the boot of my car. When my teacher would ask me 'What have you got there?' I would reply 'I am doing some roadside ikebana today'. Here I go again. In the first picture below are some 'ink berries' * (Phytolacca americana) that I saw growing through a hoarding at the edge of a Brooklyn footpath.
You will notice, in the photo above, that there are also some other grasses that have a pinkish tinge to the seed head. Although it doesn't show, further along the path is a miscanthus-looking reed that has a similar hue in the feathery flowerhead.
These are the roadside materials that I used for this arrangement that I created in a ceramic vessel I bought at the Guggenheim Museum in New York last week.
My first teacher in Australia was Carlyne Patterson, who died last week from Motor Neurone Disease. Below is a photo of my class in October 2004, with Carlyne on the right of the group. This was the occasion of the first exhibition of 'Ikebana at Qdos' in which we made ikebana in vessels created by Graeme Wilkie and his colleagues at the Qdos Gallery.
From left to right. Graeme Wilkie (ceramic artist), Philip Keon, Maria Hernandes y Jensen (ceramic artist), Sara Forsythe, Christine Theodorou, Annette MacKintosh, me and Carlyne Patterson.
Carlyne was a keen ikebanist and teacher until her illness prevented her practise only a few months ago. When I was her student she pushed me beyond my 'comfort zone' on many occasions and was renowned for her modern approach and frequent use of unconventional materials. She participated in the 50th anniversary exhibition of the Victorian Branch in May this year. The images below are of her directing and setting up at that exhibition.
This work above is hers from the Qdos exhibition of 2005
The following year she created this out-door work using bark gathered from the sculpture garden, painted palm spathe and wire (faintly visible around the top of this large vessel).
This very contemporary work, from a 2007 exhibition, was a collaborative piece by some of her students in which I think she was also a creative force.
Above is her last publicly shown ikebana work at the 50th Anniversary Exhibition of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana Victorian Branch.
Vale Carlyne and thank you.
27th September 2014
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