Getting into the Spirit

It is with some considerable delight that we announce that there will be a British Shohin Bonsai show in 2016, run in conjunction with our friends at Sutton Bonsai Society.

Entitled Spirit of Shohin 2016, the show will be held over the weekend on April 2nd and 3rd 2016, and will offer members and public a chance to see some of the foremost shohin bonsai in the UK.

And even more excitingly, the venue for the event will be RHS Wisley Garden in Surrey.

It is something of a feather in our cap to be able to run our show at such a prestigious location and a large thank-you must go to Andy and his colleagues at Sutton Bonsai Society for making it all possible.

Plans for the event are in a very early stage of development, but the organising team are already working towards making this a memorable occasion.

Wisley Garden is no stranger to bonsai.  In addition to the Herons Bonsai Walk opened in 2012, our friends at Sutton Bonsai Society held their recent club show there, and the reports back indicate that we can expect a considerable interest from the general public as well as the bonsai supporters.  Holding the show in a far more public arena will bring its challenges, but the pluses far outweigh the negatives. It will certainly be a challenge we will relish.

Over the next few months, as plans progress, we will bring you further details of the show.  In the meantime, please put the date in your diary and pass it on to your bonsai friends and acquaintances.

Some images from the recent Sutton Bonsai Society show at Wisley Garden

Wisley 2Wisley 1

Wisely 4

Shohin UK 2015 is all ship shape and Bristol fashion

The 2015 Shohin UK event was a resounding success at the weekend and delivered clear evidence that the standard of the smaller sizes of bonsai has yet again run itself further up  the bonsai flagpole in the past twelve months.

The village hall at Failand near Bristol attracted nearly 200 visitors from as far afield as Paris and Paisley to see this quietly understated but nevertheless highly professional exhibition. This throng (which had significantly increased since two years ago) were augmented by ten traders all offering visitors a fine range of trees, pots and other bonsai items.

The stars of the show were of course the bonsai. A total of eighty trees were on show, spread among twenty six displays.

And what superb displays they were too.

It was interesting to read the “mission statement” on the BSA’s banner which states that we intended to push the standard of shohin bonsai in the UK up.  There is no doubt that this has happened and I’d like to think that the BSA and now the BSB has played a major part in that.

With professional hands at the rudder in the form of Marco Invernizzi,  John Armitage and Peter Warren, the shohin ship has hoisted its sails in all sorts of new ports of call.  And it has picked up crews along the way of seasoned hands and new conscripts alike.  Those who now take up the king’s shohin may be a mixed bunch, but all seem determined to set a course for excellence.

But the success of smaller sized bonsai in the past few years has also been due in some considerable part to Mark and Ritta Cooper.  I cannot remember when I first became aware of their presence in the bonsai armada, but I have absolutely no uncertainty about their impact.  If Messrs Warren, Armitage and Invernizzi are the captains, then the Coopers most certainly are the admirals of the fleet.   Their high level of knowledge, the sheer quality of their trees combined with their drive and enthusiasm is a catalyst for all things good in shohin circles. It is no accident that Shohin UK has set itself up as a beacon.

As yet there is no promise of a repeat event in two years time, but I am sure everyone in attendance – exhibitors, traders and visitors alike – sincerely hope that we see a Shohin UK 3.

But enough of this merry badinage and on to the pictures from the show so all you poor ratings who weren’t able to make it can at least live the show vicariously

And before anyone asks, I have absolutely no idea why I have elected to use so much sea-based imagery in this article.  I must have had too much time to sit and contemplate my naval today.

Ship ahoy.

The Winners

And the winners are...

And the winners are…

John Armitage's Best Shohin Display

John Armitage’s Best Shohin Display

John also won Best Shohin award for this superb juniper

John also won Best Shohin award for this superb juniper

Kit Bowns Best Mame display

Kit Bowns Best Mame display

Award for Best Mame went to Kit Bowns for this larch

Award for Best Mame went to Kit Bowns for this larch

John Pitt's fabulous Best Chuhin display

John Pitt’s fabulous Best Chuhin display

Steve Tolley's sublime Itoigawa juniper - winner of Best Chuhin

Steve Tolley’s sublime Itoigawa juniper – winner of Best Chuhin

Steve McKee's Best Tress and Pot combination (with the artist lurking in the background)

Steve McKee’s Best Tress and Pot combination (with the artist lurking in the background)

The Runners Up

Award of Merit - Shohin Display went to this exhibit of Andy Jordan's

Award of Merit – Shohin Display went to this exhibit of Andy Jordan’s

Martin Shepherd's Award of Merit in the Chuhin category

Martin Shepherd’s Award of Merit in the Chuhin category

Thanks to Mark R Cooper for the pics – mine were all rubbish

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

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