That was the weekend, that was! Part one

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.

exhibition mame displays IA4A3795 Red

A look down the avenue of Mame displays

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Having the broader tables for the displays was a major plus and allowed the exhibits to be far better arranged.

Bruno Wijman giving advice on how to improve an exhibit IA4A3971 - Red

The event featured quite a range of displays from five tree racks to single tree exhibits.

Shohin nana-ten display - Bob van Ruitenbeek IA4A3960 Red

Stone Monkey pot exhibit IA4A3953 Red

Stonemonkey pot exhibit

Ian Baillie pot display IA4A3955 Red

Ian Bailie pot exhibit

main vendors 1 Red

We also had, courtesy of the RHS, a marvellous marquee for our vendors.

Nobu Sugiura Red

Our vendors were a remarkably international bunch including our friend Nobu Sugiura all the way from Japan.

vendors 2 Red

Traders are always a popular

vendors 3 Red

addition to a show

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Shohin the way in Denmark

It’s always good to see the magic of shohin spreading across the globe and we here at British Shohin Bonsai are delighted to see Morten’s new shohin association in Denmark taking off.   We wish him every success with the association – the more people who are spreading the shohin love the better in our book.   Here is how Morten announced the new venture.

morten 1

We are glad to announce that the national organization [url=http://www.shohin-bonsai.dk]Shohin Bonsai Danmark[/url] is now established. We look forward to see you at our events and workshops, were everybody are welcome. The website http://www.shohin-bonsai.dk is on air, with all content in Danish and English language.

The interest for Shohin bonsai in Denmark has grown considerably through the later years, and today more people have a special interest in this part of bonsai. We find the time right to help developing this further through workshops, exhibitions, online information i.e., and taking part in bonsai activities.

An international network also has pushed this from idea to realisation, and we now look forward to exchange knowledge and enjoying the beauty of Shohin in a friendly community.

First activities planned in spring, and next autumn our main event will take place. We look forward to a future gaining more interest in Shohin bonsai both nationally and internationally. We look forward to corporate with you, and share the beauty of the seasons with Shohin-bonsai.

A Danish and English language electronic newsletter will be send out regularly to members. Join us and be part of Shohin Bonsai Danmark through the website.

Chairman
Morten Albek
Shohin Bonsai Danmark
shohin@shohin-bonsai.dk
http://www.shohin-bonsai.dk

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

BSB at BTA

Graham Walker gives us his report on the first official engagement of the BSB

The BTA autumn event was held at the Heritage Centre at Elsecar, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire this year for the first time. This move was forced upon them as the original venue, used for many years, had been demolished.

The Heritage Centre is on the site of the old National Coal Board Engineering Works, and includes many small and varied units, together with an operating historical railway.

The day started early for me with the alarm going off at 5.00am (never realised there were two 5.00 o’clocks in one day). After a quiet drive I arrived to be joined shortly afterwards by the two Johns – Armitage and Brocklehurst. The display units were all set out awaiting dressing with cloths before we set up our Shohin displays. As the space was limited we each put one display on the British Shohin Bonsai stand. We also took the opportunity to advertise the next Shohin event in the UK, ShohinUK 2 in March 2015, together with our new Facebook page and website.

(Pause for a bacon sandwich and a chat with various friends met over the course of many years in the hobby.) Then there was just time to have a quick look round the sales stands to see if anything caught our eye, before the event was open to the public. The club displays were then judged, but the results not announced until after lunch. All displays were of a very high standard and it was encouraging to see several clubs exhibiting for the first time.

The new venue provided a large hall around which all the traders were spread, with the Club displays back to back along the centre of the hall. This made a very impressive show of trees.
During the course of the day there were many conversations and banter with friends both new and long standing.

There were people from many parts of the country, including a large number down from Scotland.

In the afternoon the results of the club displays were announced which were as follows
Gold award Lanarkshire Bonsai
Silver award Aka Matsu School of Bonsai
Bronze award Bonsai Collective (all students of John Hanby)
Highly commended York Bonsai Club

All displays were of a high standard and proved difficult to separate by the Judges. Unfortunately British Shohin Bonsai did not get a mention, disappointing. but it is being there and taking part that counts.

Corin Tomlinson of Greenwood Gardens gave a quick styling demonstration with a Chinese Juniper which was then raffled off to a lucky ticket holder.

All that was left at the end of the event was to dismantle the stand, pack the cars and drive home!

I would like to thank the BTA Committee for all the organisation and hard work that goes into putting on an event of this size. Most people I talked too seemed very pleased with the new venue and had an enjoyable day.

Some pics of the BSB display
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Note to self: work out how to put images side by side. 😉
second note to self: remember for future reference that there were bacon butties at this event 😉 😉