Display aesthetics – a practical discussion

A few years ago I did an article in the BSA Newsletter about  a display that had been put together by Hans Vleugels and subsequently commented on by Morten Albek.  With the permission of those two august gentlemen, I thought it might be a good idea to open the article up to the wider audience that we now have to see what others think.  Here goes.

When Hans Vleugels posted this shohin display on the Internet Bonsai Club many people would have thought that it was already a fine offering. The trees were individually superb, and together they seemed to create a restful and unified
display.

Hans' original display

Hans’ original display

The display was created as part of a photo session at Hans’ bonsai club Eda Uchi Kai where members were asked to bring some trees for a professional photo shoot by Jan Dieryck. The trees in the shohin display are a Juniperus chinensis, an Acer buergerianum, and a Zelkova serrata. Hans’ request for possible improvements brought out several responses, mostly in favour of the existing display but also with minor suggestions such as moving the Juniper slightly off-centre on the rack. But the most enlightening response came from Morten Albek. Regarding the issue of positioning of the top tree, Morten wrote: “The bonsai in my opinion should always be placed in centre of the table, and not to the left or right to achieve balance. The tree must be in balance itself, and need not to be placed off centre to do this. Of course it is the choice of the artist to neglect this, but stability and peace is more often achieved with the trees centred.

Morten continued: “Good choice of trees, and simplicity and peace is achieved.The season, that is the main theme of the shohin display is clear, and there are good trees chosen that harmonize well with each other in size and visual volume. You must consider the balance of the display though. It is of importance that the main trees and the assistant tree point towards each other, and towards the centre of the display to get the right balance. To achieve the balance completely it is also necessary to flip the owl too.”

Morten used a photo virtual to create his own version of the display as follows:

Morten's amended display

Comments and thoughts welcome of course.

 

Close up of the owl figure

BPowl

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5 comments on “Display aesthetics – a practical discussion

  1. I have to agree with Morten. The juniper has a strong direction to the right which reinforces the grouping on the stand leaving the tree to the left (with owl) as a separate vignette lacking a tie with the rest. Will I reveal some ignorance if I ask to consider rotating the stand to the other direction?

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  2. Pingback: Improving Excellence | Bonsai Bark

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