Last week I showed photos from workshops given by Yoshiro Umemura. I really enjoy his workshops and the challenge they provide, as well as the opportunity to experiment, sometimes with unfamiliar ideas or materials. So the results may fall short of my expectations in which case the experience allows me to find out what does not work. 

It was only later when I looked at the photo from the first workshop that I realised that the arrangement was too large for the vessel and should have been reduced by about 1/3 its height. Here it is again, in its original form...

...and below with the photo modified to wipe out the topmost elements.

My reason for showing this is to encourage those who go to workshops to experiment with their ikebana, and to explain to others that workshop arrangements are not exhibition pieces.

To return to Mr Umemura's workshops, on the second day the first theme was a combined exercise of: 'massed expression' and 'focusing on water'.  
Massed expression precludes the use of strong clear lines, which are usually characteristic of ikebana. So I challenged myself to make a mass out of many small lines. I have used three different kinds of straight line materials to make two masses and then placed them together to make an irregularly shaped mass. Two stems of small begonia flowers provide a colour contrast.

The final workshop combined themes were: 'Intertwining materials' and 'paying attention to the vessel and the place where it is to be set'.

Mr Umemura pointed out that in this type of arrangement, the centre-point of the whole piece is not aligned with the centre of the vessel and, in fact, is usually outside the vessel. I have used New Zealand Flax, courtesy of Lucy and Emily, and cane-stemmed begonia flowers in a ceramic suiban. 

There are more photos of the second day of workshops at: Yoshiro Umemura's workshops * in Melbourne.

Greetings from Christopher
23rd April 2016

* Click on the blue text for further information


Last weekend the Victorian Branch of the Sogetsu School was treated to two days of workshops led by Yoshiro Umemura from Sydney. He challenged us with workshop themes that combine two exercises from the Sogetsu curriculum; one from Book 3 and a second exercise from Book 4. 

At the first workshop the exercises were: 'An arrangement using a variety of materials' and 'Using straight lines'. The first of these exercises derives from the traditional mazesashi arrangement of seven autumn grasses, which was usually made in a basket.

Because of the second, 'straight line' requirement in the theme, I selected materials that contained principally straight lines and then further emphasised them by adding two inverted triangles made from 'umbrella grass'. 

The second workshop themes were: 'an arrangement incorporating fruiting branches' and 'using straight and curving lines'. In the latter exercise it is preferable to use more of either the straight or the curving lines rather than an even balance of both of them.

I have used some pomegranates and curving lines made from Coast Sword Sedge (Lepidosperma gladiatum). The curving lines are contrasted with an angled line of a strelitzia leaf stem.

Photographs from the workshop are shown on the Victorian Branch, Sogetsu website * . 

Last week my colleague Emily Karanikolopoulos returned from Japan where, at the end of March, she was awarded a Riji Certificate, the highest qualification available to Sogetsu teachers outside Japan. Here is a link to her blog: Emily Karanikolopoulos *  (You will need to scroll down to the posting on the 30th March to see her photos).

Greetings from Christopher
16th April 2016

* Click on the blue text for further information


The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne take up about one third of the parklands immediately to the south-east of the city centre, and share a boundary with Government House * , the residence of the Queen's representative * in the State of Victoria.  

This is the view of the tower from within the Botanic Gardens. 

Last Thursday evening Laurie and I had the privilege of being invited to a reception at Government House celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Burnet Institute * , an international medical research organisation based in Melbourne. As we were permitted to take photos I thought I would share some with you.

This is the tower by night from the forecourt.

The State Entrance with some flowers, not quite ikebana, and a portrait of the Queen. Some of this blog's international readers may be surprised to learn that Elizabeth II is the Head of State for the State of Victoria, as well as the Commonwealth of Australia.  

The Ballroom. 

The throne in the Ballroom.

The State Dining Room.

On the morning before the reception I was amazed to see this huge bed of cosmos bipinnatus * in the gardens...

...which was also attractive to lots of bees.

I didn't know they could grow this high, nearly double my height.

This week's ikebana is an autumn arrangement of materials gathered by the roadside, in a vase by Alistair Whyte * .

Greetings from Christopher
10th April 2016

* Click on the blue text for further information.


Autumn this week has brought some cooler strong winds that were being enjoyed by the windsurfers on the 'front beach' at Torquay this afternoon. 


The view above is looking west along the Torquay surf beach with a cool southerly blowing, but bright sunshine being enjoyed by the walkers. 

*          *          *
The typical colours associated with Autumn are not very apparent in our predominantly native Australian garden. Such colours are characteristic of deciduous northern hemisphere plants. This lead me to look at what Australian plants are flowering at the moment in our garden. 

I noticed this eucalyptus was flowering and is particularly attractive to a considerable number of medium sized green parrots.

Beneath the eucalypt is this pink correa * "dusky bells", very sweet, but usually too short for ikebana purposes.

Autumn colour in the garden is being provided by an ornamental grape (Vitis coignetiae * ) that I moved onto a metal frame last year. It has done a fair job of covering the frame in one season.

The leaves have a wonderful rough texture and colour up richly as the nights grow cooler.

I re-worked, and significantly shortened, the very tall, beautiful Autumnal materials of last week's ikebana, so that I could enjoy it in the house. In this version the arrangement has a loose but more massed feel in which the oranges and reds have become emphasised.

Greetings from Christopher
5th April 2016

My apologies for this posting being late. I was waiting to include further images from the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show * .