|Tricyrtis photo, arborix.be|
My first Sogetsu Ikebana demonstration with Ilse Beunen was on a afternoon in her cozy Atelier Kadõ in Antwerp. In the dying light she offered a short history of the practice while she selected plant material for the demonstration—several branches of sturdy oak and some delicate orchid like flowers called Tricyrtis. She spoke softly but confidently about the choice of vessel, the tools, and how to use eyes, arms, shoulders and hands to measure and manipulate the greenery. There is a prescribed order to build an arrangement. I already feel this will be a challenge for me as I have never been very good about following the rules, or at least, remembering them. Ilse examined the branches for their best features-and imperfections-and talked about being a student and a teacher. She told me about the life long lessons of ikebana and of the moments when a student will at last absorb a concept and “see it again for the first time” or when a student, with great excitement, will tell of a branch spied during a weekend walk that would be “perfect” for a particular arrangement. Inspiration can come from many sources, and a recent post on Nordic Lotus illustrates the beauty of lichen.
Ikebana masters passed the tradition and technique from one generation to the next. The Sogetsu school was the first to document the practice into a series of books to illustrate the basics (Kaheiho) and then to build on them for more complex arrangements. As Ilse placed the 3 primary branches (Shushi), carefully balancing the mass with the void, she spoke about nature and how ikebana tolerates a bit of decay in the autumn arrangement but asks for abundance in summer.
|Acorns photo: Darren Hester|