The weekend of 2nd and 3rd April saw some three dozen of the best shohin, mame and chuhin displays in Europe gathered together for the 2016 British Shohin Bonsai exhibition.
Entitled Spirit of Shohin, the event featured top notch displays from the UK and Europe – all set in the tranquil and beautiful surroundings of the RHS Gardens at Wisley. The event was visited by a sizeable number of the bonsai community as well as members of the public.
In addition to the exhibition space, we had a large representation from our trader friends.
And of course, for a few lucky bonsaiists, the highlight of the weekend was getting to work with world-famous young Japanese bonsai artist, Taiga Urushibata.
In this series of short articles, we will bring you the full picture of the stunning event. First, some general background.
British Shohin Bonsai is the “offspring” of the British Shohin Association. Like many amateur clubs and societies, BSA was struggling to find people willing to take on committee roles. But rather than let the organisation simply fade away, an interim solution was reached whereby several of the stalwarts decided to band together to put on the biennial exhibition, first to gauge if there is still an interest in the smaller sizes of bonsai, and if so, to keep up the considerable momentum the BSA had already achieved.
If the weekend’s event is anything to go on, it is now clear that there is a huge level of interest in shohin and other smaller sized bonsai.
I have always felt that sometimes at the more conventional exhibitions, the viewers are overwhelmed by the sheer WOW! factor of large bonsai that the intricacies and delicacy of the smaller trees is often overlooked. In my opinion it is a bit like doing small scale modelling – it is far easier to create detail on a larger model – railway, aircraft, armies etc – than it is on small scale, and to be able to create intricate details takes a helluva lot of skill. Shohin and Mame are akin to the 00 and N gauge of bonsai, and in my opinion are very much the living (in all senses of the word) embodiment of the maxim “less is more”.
But enough of the pseudo-philosophy and on with the trees. Below are some general images from the show. In the next couple of articles I will focus on the award winners and the near misses.
Images courtesy of Mark Cooper.