On Saturday this week I conducted a workshop for Ikebana International in Melbourne. The participants brought an offering of materials and a vessel for one arrangement. Then each person, in order of their arrival at the venue, was asked to choose one of the offerings to make an arrangement. This meant they had to use unfamiliar vessels and materials, and had to improvise their design. 

I put myself last in the selection queue and found a beautiful handmade ceramic suiban, a selection of yellow chrysanthemums and some foliage known locally as 'Forest lace' * . This is commercially grown and has straight brown stems with very lacy-green foliage. An on-line research revealed that this is an Australian native shrub in the Stenocapus genus. Perhaps the best known member of this genus is the spectacular rainforest 'Fire Wheel Tree' * . 

Among my materials were four stems stripped of their foliage. At first I thought, what am I supposed to do with these? Then I thought again, realising that the stems could be used to brace across the suiban, allowing me to make an 'abstract' style work emphasising the colour and textures of the materials.

This second view more accurately shows how the work looked on the table. Although I must admit the overhead view is somewhat more dramatic. More photographs can be seen at I.I. Saturday workshop * .

I would also like to draw your attention to 
on-line postings by the fifth recipient of the Norman and Mary Sparnon Endowment Scholarship, Sandy Marker * . Sandy is a teacher from Sydney and, as the scholarship recipient, is currently spending three months at the Sogetsu Headquarters. 

* Click on the blue text for further information.

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