ikebana international expo Wissekerke Castle welcome arrangement by Ekaterina Seehaus

Ikebana International Expo Wissekerke Castle

Attending all the flower events has a nice side benefit for me – I am discovering Belgium. There are apparently plenty of castles big and small hidden all over the countryside. This time it is the Ikebana International exhibition in  Wissekerke Castle near Antwerpen.

The castle is a very sweet, nicely designed building with beautifully landscaped surroundings. The park is a very pleasant place for having a walk or a pick nick.

As the weather is great we also have a part of the exhibition outside. Land art installations are spread all over the park and around the lake area. This way the whole range of ikebana art from the most traditional Ikenobo School arrangements to the modern large scale works of Sogetsu School are represented in the true spirit of the Ikebana International organisation.

Lucia's entrance arrangement at the ikebana international expo Wissekerke

Inside of the castle the organization of the exhibition is quite surprising and pleasant. I have perceived as a treasure hunt. Most of the arrangements are moderate size and therefore they fit very organically in different places in the castle rooms. This makes ikebana compositions look naturally integrated into the interior.

Ikebana arrangement at the ikebana international expo Wissekerke

There were a couple of rooms, where I did not notice all the arrangements at once. Just before leaving the room I would suddenly see that there is yet another hidden treasure to be discovered.

My own work is outside. It is the first one that is greeting people entering the premises. It was such a pleasant environment to work!

Ikebana by Ekaterina Seehaus land art arrangement at the ikebana international expo Wissekerke

The exhibition is open this long weekend including Monday, June 5.

You can see the the official pictures of the exhibition by following this link. If you have any issues accessing the album please let me know ekaterina@ikebanaweb.com. Here are some of my favorite arrangements collected on my treasure hunt:

Ikebana arrangement at the ikebana international expo Wissekerke

Ikebana arrangement at the ikebana international expo Wissekerke

Ikebana arrangement at the ikebana international expo Wissekerke

Ikebana arrangement at the ikebana international expo Wissekerke

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ikebana arrangement in two containers by Ekaterina Seehaus, Materials: calla, Australian flax икебана Согэтсу Sogetsu school ikebanaweb.com ikebana meditation article

Ikebana as meditation

I have been reflecting on the meditative aspect of ikebana already for a while. This article covers my discoveries.

If you ask your friend Wikipedia “what is ikebana?” it will say that it is an art of arranging flowers. But then it will also tell you that it is a Kado – the way of spiritual developments, a path of self-knowledge similar to the martial arts (karate-do, aikido, judo etc). This perhaps is what sets ikebana apart from other forms of floral art.

I have been curious about spiritual development systems for years. They vary a lot but one thing they all seem to have in common: a practice of connecting with the inner peaceful core. In the contemporary language we often call it meditation.

My personal experience with mediation is all about taking distance from the thinking mind. Or rather bypassing the worrying, chatting, busy part of the brain and connecting directly to the wise, silent, peaceful part of it.

All who have ever attempted mediation know that it is easier said than done. Many of us spent vast amount of time trying to stop thinking. We get frustrated, discouraged and insecure once we realize we are not able to do it for a meaningful length of time. What’s next?

A while ago I came across a helpful hint. The speaker was comparing thinking mind with a very active monkey who is constantly busy jumping from task to task. How do we keep the monkey quiet? The answer was simple. We give her a banana. And while she is busy with it we can do our peaceful meditation.

What can we use as our metaphoric banana? There are many tools created by humanity. Repeating memorized verses of prayers and religious chants is perhaps the most common one. Doing dynamic meditations like martial arts is another well-known form. Any extreme sport would be a “banana on steroids”. Those are needed for the brains of top executives or world leaders. Their minds are filled with so much serious stuff that switching them off is nearly impossible unless you are a well-trained meditator.

A side note to be explored later: I am convinced that most of the successful people are skilled in some form of meditation and do it regularly be it extensive running or a yoga practice. Did they became successful because they were good at controlling their brains? Or did they learn to control their brains to cope with the increasing level of worry as they went up? In either case the ability to find stillness in the most crazy situation seems to be the distinguishing factor between those who “make it” and… the rest of us.

I hope by now I have convinced you that meditation is a serious matter and not a spiritual mumbo-jumbo. Finding our personal way of distracting the monkey brain is worth investing some time into.

After years of yoga and Tai Chi I absolutely unexpectedly found a very easy way of entering into this highly desirable meditative state. For me it is through practicing the art of ikebana. It was a perfect distraction to my thinking patterns minus the dangers of the extreme sports. And it had a bonus compared to yoga: at the end of each lesson I had a nice flower arrangement to remind me of the experience I had.

I have elaborated on my experience many times when talking to people about ikebana. For me, when I come to my teacher’s place for the lesson I leave the world behind the door. I am a different person with a different purpose and a very difficult task at hand. I am working on the assignment and nothing else matters.

I love this perfect moment during an ikebana lesson when there is complete focus, silence and concentration in the group. Keep in mind that it is typically a group of women, who were happily chatting just before the lesson and will carry on chatting right after. They are all transformed for this brief moment. They have fully given themselves to the process of creation. And the more they are able to let go of anything outside of the ikebana world the more enchanting their arrangements are.

In the book “Zen in the Art of Flower Arrangement” Gustie Herrigel speaks about the way teachers in Japan used to review students’ works. Teachers were evaluating whether the true connection with the essence of the flower was achieved by the student. Nowadays we perhaps would not use such wording. Nevertheless it is clear what she means. It is not tangible and you can’t put your finger on it but sometimes an arrangement just works and sometimes it does not. Even if there is no fundamental difference. You are just tuning into harmony or you are not.

So how do we enter into this special state of complete presence to our creation process? Well, first of all we try to avoid over complicating it. We just stay with feeling and avoid thinking. The simplest way is to concentrate on the sensory contact with the material.

Listen – pour water into the container as the first step. Listen to the sound of water. This will make you do it slower because it is actually quite enjoyable.  It also prompts you to handle your tools more carefully without making noise when you put them on the surface of the table. This in turn makes your movements more conscious, which is the whole point really.

Touch – different materials have different texture. Try touching stems of different flowers, bark of branches, petals and stamens. Rub pollen between your fingertip (careful, don’t mark your clothes! Some pollen is not possible to wash off). It is fascinating how much variety nature has in it. Humbling really.

Smell – yes, this is the best part. Even if you are using flowers which do not have an iconic perfume smell there is for sure a subtle scent present. And it is not always a pleasant one. 🙂 But this is yet another discovery you can make to get acquainted with your materials. And don’t forget that leafs, grasses they all have their own less pronounced scents.

Observe – colors, shapes, lines, big curves and small details. They all are worth our attention. They are out there patiently waiting to be discovered. And once you discover them it is your job to create an arrangement to share your discovery with the others.

There are so many fundamental principles and laws used in ikebana without being mentioned. I keep on stumbling upon them and exploring them as I move through my ikebana journey. Here are just a few, which I want to elaborate on in my future posts:

  • The golden ratio – it is fundamental to the ikebana proportions but I have never seen it mentioned in any of the ikebana text books.
  • Minimalism – the principal of arriving to the beauty by removing extra elements as long as there is nothing left in the arrangement that has no purpose. Less is more.
  • Color theory – we teach the basics of it in the Sogetsu curriculum but there is so much more. I for sure want to dig deeper into it.

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Alice in Wonderland ikebana installation by Ekaterina Seehaus at Fleurs Des Dammes 2017 bamboo, eucalyptus branches, orchids, airplant Castel d'Ursel

Ikebana at Fleurs Des Dames Event

You have perhaps noticed that I love creating ikebana installations for events. Themed events are even better: they give constraints and nothing fires up my creativity like having limitations. This time the event is called Fleurs Des Dames and I am the only ikebanist in the crowd of Western florists. It is an excellent opportunity to get wider flower lovers audience introduced to our beloved ikebana. The pressure is on, I need to make an art work representing ikebana in a modern yet authentic way.

The theme of the event is Fairy tales. For ikebana, which is quite abstract, such a literate theme is a challenge. Plus all my cultural childhood references are based on symbols from Russian fairy tales. If you are not from the Russian speaking background such concepts as “live water vs. dead water” or a “crimson flower” or a “stone flower” will not associate with any image for you. And those were the only things I could think of. For weeks. I spent loads of time looking for the right visual fairy tale symbol. What internationally known fairy tales did I read as a child? And then it came: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll! I was fascinated by it and at some point even re-reading it as an adult.

So I made a giant key hole from gold painted bamboo. It is huge. I can actually squeeze through it myself – it is about 2 meters tall. I guess this is how Alice might have felt after considerably reducing in size and looking into the secret garden “on the other side”.

Alice in Wonderland ikebana installation by Ekaterina Seehaus at Fleurs  Des Dames 2017 bamboo, eucalyptus branches, orchids, airplant castel d'ursel
Alice in Wonderland ikebana installation by Ekaterina Seehaus at Fleurs Des Dames 2017

There was still space for 2 normal size more traditional ikebana arrangements. I had the whole Chinese bedroom to myself to decorate.

Chinese bedroom at Castel d'Ursel with ikebana by Ekaterina Seehaus wooden red Chinese vase, green chrysanthemum, chinese embroidery background panel, Fleurs Des Dames event 2017
Chinese bedroom at Castel d’Ursel with hanging style ikebana by Ekaterina Seehaus

The first ikebana I made in a red wooden Chinese vase. And there is a story behind it.

I took this vase with me to the castle absolutely not knowing why. Just in case. I was joking with a friend afterwards that it must have been my ikebana angel looking after me. And here is why.

Originally there was a small sculpture standing on this stand in front of the Chinese embroidered wall panel.

Suddenly, when I was in the middle of my work, the castle boss showed up and removed this sculpture saying that I can place an arrangement there as well. Can you imagine how I felt at that point? There would have been no way I could go, get an extra vase, come back and finish my installations in time. Just not feasible. And besides, it was The Perfect vase for the Chinese embroidered background. And Ii just happened to have it with me.

The flowers were provided by the sponsors of the Fleurs Des Dames in abundance. So I got gorgeous green chrysanthemums for this arrangement. They made wonderful contrast with the red vase. The hanging style ikebana integrated with the image on the background panel very well.

One of the visitors yesterday told me that the arrangement “spoke to her”. She was standing in front of it for a few minutes and taking notes in her little notebook. It was one of those moments that make all your effort worthwhile.

The second ikebana arrangement was slightly less fortunate with the background. It was in front of a poster on top of the fireplace. Not ideal. But still bringing in the color of the surrounding interior into the arrangement helped integrating the piece into the room.

Ikebana arrangement at Castel d'Ursel by Ekaterina Seehaus bonsai look, red orchids, fireplace arrangement, sogetsu ikebana, Fleurs des dames 2017
Ikebana arrangement at Castel d’Ursel by Ekaterina Seehaus

I loved the drama of the branch. I had it grown to this shape for several years. Now it was just the right occasion for showing it off. Admittedly many people thought it was a bonsai. Of course they were wondering why it stands in water? Oh well, I take it as a complement. Apparently bonsai people made a much better job of popularizing this Japanese art in Europe. We, ikebanists should learn from them.

I hope we can get more ikebana representation in the next Fleurs Des Dames exhibition. It was a great event to participate in. All the people were super friendly, helpful and the overall atmosphere was very positive. I believe such events are a great opportunity to introduce European flower lovers to the wonderful art of ikebana.

You might ask why would I spend all the effort doing that? Because I am convinced that ikebana can tremendously enrich people’s lives by bringing peace and harmony into their daily experience. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all could effortlessly surf through our lives on a Zen wave?

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Morimono ikebana arrangement in automne colors. Pumpkins, physalis, sunflowers. By Ekaterina Seehaus. Sogetsu school of ikebana.

Morimono – use of fruits and vegetables in Japanese flower arrangements

What do fruits and vegetables have to do with flower arrangements?

Japanese do not discriminate: any plant material can be used in ikebana, not only flowers and branches. There is a special type of arrangement called Morimono, which allows using pretty much any part of the plant in the composition.

If  you think of it, using branches with berries is quite common both in ikebana and in Western flower arrangement. But once we move towards fruits disconnected from branches we are out of the comfort zone. The known ways of fixing materials are no longer helpful and we are not clear how to show beauty of, for example, a tomato in our art creation.

Sogetsu ikebena by Ekaterina Seehaus morimono arrangement with watermelon and wind strawberries
Why couldn’t a watermelon become a container? Morimono arrangement and photography by Ekaterina Seehaus

So what is Morimono? In Japanese it literally means to pile up. It does not sound too artistic or pretty for that matter. Therefore our main goal is to make the pile attractive and artistically expressive. Following the main ikebana principles is crucial here.

If in doubt where to begin, start with selecting an unusual container for your unusual arrangement. This will set the tone and help you push your creativity boundaries. A nice board or a flat stone could give enough space for your artistic pile and will give it a bit of a modern edge.

Another approach could be to start with a choice of a color scheme. Same ikebana principles of working with color apply here. You can decide to go for the same tonal range (see above Automne arrangement) or contrasting colors (see red/green contrast of cabbage and peppers above) or simply emphasize one color – the choice is yours. This decision will help you pick the right grocery list for your next supermarket visit.

Another tip is to look for unusually shaped, odd pieces to avoid artificial look. If you have your own garden it is an added benefit. Home-grown fruits and vegetable are more likely to have unusual shapes. This can give you the key element, around which you could build your arrangement.

The point of this journey is to see familiar objects in a new light, to find out the main characteristics and features of a plant. For example it is nice to split bell peppers in half and show their seed pods or to disassemble cabbage and roll the leafs following their natural lines. Pealing off parts of skin on a darker vegetable such as aubergine could give you just the right accent. From there you could build a contrast based arrangement of dark vs. light colors.

Morimono ikebana arrangement red peppers, green cabbage, color contrasts. By Ekaterina Seehaus. Sogetsu school of ikebana
Arrangement with red peppers showing the inside and outside. Contrast of red and green colors. Ikebana and photography by Ekaterina Seehaus

There is a vast variety of techniques available for fixing vegetables in place. Next to the standard ikebana fixings you could, for example, use tooth picks to link several round objects together to prevent them from rolling or choose a larger vegetable as a base for fixing others on top of it.

And of course, nobody prevents us from using flowers or brunches next to the fruits or vegetables. At the end Morimono is quite flexible and broadens our artistic horizon.

Sogetsu ikebana Morimono with cabbage as a flower by Ekaterina Seehaus
Morimono with cabbage as a flower. Wooden chinese container. Ikebana by Ekaterina Seehaus

Whichever way you decide to go, keep it simple and have fun with it!

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P.S. Want to get more examples and tips on creating original harvest arrangements? Follow ikebanaWEB here and download my Morimono step by step seminar materials for FREE. I have just given this Morimono workshop to the Ikebana International group of Belgium. I hope it will inspire you to make your own arrangements or who knows, may be even to give a workshop!

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Interview Akane Teshigahara by Ekaterina Seehaus Floralien Ghent Gent 2016

Interview with Akane Teshigahara

The leader of the Sogetsu school of ikebana have kindly answers questions of teachers and students collected with the help of Facebook

Anticipation was building up over the last couple of months. When earlier this year Ms. Teshigahara was visiting Belgium we wanted to interview her. We collected the questions of ikebana teachers and students from all over the world. It was a nice example of the “good globalization” and how the on-line community of social networks can be leveraged.

During the visit we were not able to fit the interview into the headmaster’s agenda. (Disclaimer: I use the word headmaster instead of headmistresses just because I … like it better. Nothing to do with gender discrimination. In any case the word in Japanese is “iemoto” for both genders.)

Instead of the live interview we were kindly offered by the Sogetsu school headquarters to get written responses to the questions in due course. Today I received the long anticipated communication and I am sharing it with you.

We submitted 7 questions to Ms. Teshigahara, which are ranked by the votes on Facebook. As Akane Teshigahara teaches junior ikebana classes already since 1989 and is regarded as one of the most prominent child educators in the field of ikebana, the question, which got the most votes in the poll is about this topic:

Question 1: What are your top 3 tips for teaching children ikebana?

  1. Do not assume children as a whole from their age and gender, but work with each of them individually. It is important to use your ingenuity so as to talk and teach them differently depending on their type.
  2. Take time. Don’t rush them. Watch patiently what the kid wants to do.
  3. Whatever the work is, recognize it while searching a good point and say something nice first. Do not deny first. Try to make them feel that ikebana is fun.

Question 2: What source of ikebana inspiration do you use when nothing else works?

Enjoy various things other than ikebana, such as paintings, sculptures, movies, theaters… Put yourself in a completely different environment and reset your feeling once.

Question 3: What is the most effective Sogetsu school strategy in popularizing ikebana in the world?

Needless to say, continuing steady activities are important, but it is more important to actively spread information to the outside, not being inward-looking. In order to do so, we will search collaborations with other categories (e.g. art forms other than ikebana, stage performance) and attractive places and put more emphasis on creating works incorporating the “power of the place”. The new Textbook 5 contains the curriculum needed to learn these things. Please look forward to learning it.

Question 4: What is the suggested program for teaching teachers after the book 5 is completed?

Completing Textbook 5 means that the student stands at the start line as an artist who can express personal feelings and ideas. Hereafter, each student will pursue the path that she or he chooses. The instructor should respect such desire, provide various opportunities to learn, and give proper advice to guide the student.

Question 5: How to behave properly towards ikebana?

Ikebana works have energy and power and resonate with people who see them because living flowers are used. Ikebana is to arrange flowers and plants while putting your own feelings and thoughts to them. But you should not forcefully arrange them for your own satisfaction or treat them to diminish their unique attractiveness. Please faithfully face the plants. Do not forget a feeling of thankfulness and respect them so as to see an end when they will return to nature.

Question 6: How would you define good and bad ikebana teachers?

The good instructor can face each one of the students individually, and respect and develop their personality. Even for the students who surpass the instructor, the good instructor has a broad mind so as not to discourage the learning of the students but strongly support them. On the other hand, the bad teacher does not respect individuality but imposes his or her own way onto the students and forces the students to do what the instructor wants to do.

Question 7: What are the most important principles of integrating ikebana into modern interior?

Look at the people who live in the present times. When arranging flowers, if you think of people who will be in that space and try to understand them, I believe ikebana will naturally harmonize with modern spaces.

This concludes the interview with Akane Teshigahara, the 4th iemoto of the Sogetsu school of ikebana. Big thanks to Ms. Teshigahara for finding time in her busy agenda to answer our questions. And of course thanks to all the ikebanists, who contributed to the Facebook poll and voted for the questions.

P.S. I continue my search for the best advise on how to teach ikebana to children. I got some pretty good materials and will share them soon. Stay tuned. Sincerely, Ekaterina


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Akane Teshigahara and Ekaterina Seehaus after the ikebana performance at Ghent Floralien, April 2016
Akane Teshigahara and Ekaterina Seehaus after the iemoto’s ikebana performance at Ghent Floralien, April 2016
Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 report by Ekaterina Seehaus ikebanaweb.com

Amaryllis Competition at Chateau de Beloeil

The 2016 report from the Amaryllis Beloeil annual competition in Belgium.

This year we enjoyed the amaryllis viewings over the Easter weekend. This explains the giant Easter egg which was greeting all the visitors at the entrance.

This competition takes place in a nice historical setting of Chateau de Beloeil and (importantly) participants get a decent supply of sponsored amaryllis. What a great combination for those who want to make a bold artistic statement.

Artists are allowed to work in rooms filled with real antiquities – my compliments to the brave organizers. It gives a surreal feeling of time travel. Fresh flowers in the museum-like interior suddenly make it alive as if the inhabitants of the Chateau are just about to arrive for the dinner.

Dining room at Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 – 2nd place small teams. Photo by Ekaterina Seehaus ikebanaweb.com
Dining room at Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 – 2nd place small teams

One of my ikebana friends pointed out that most of the arrangements are quite Baroque. I suppose it is the way it should be to fit into the setting. Still my favorite arrangement was fairly minimalist. Only one color of flowers, clean lines and still very well integrated into the space. Here it is:

Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 - 2nd Place schools by Tuinbouw School Kortrijk ikebanaweb.com
Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 – 2nd place in the schools category by Tuinbouw School Kortrijk

Another item from my personal selection was in the music room arrangement: upside down amaryllis used as notes. I like the visual parallel. And it also makes amaryllis look lighter.

Music room flower arrangement at the event Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 at ikebanaweb.com

Unfortunately, similar to many other arrangements in the event these flowers were not given water supply. I find it a pity. Filling up steams with water and sealing them off with wax could have been a good option in my view.

Here is the the winner of the 1st prize in the large groups category. I guess the judges liked the fact that the flowers were integrated into the furniture pieces and not just used as separate decoration items. But this is only my speculation.

Floral arrangement 1st prize winner at Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 in the big teams category published on ikebanaweb.com
The 1st prize winner at Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 in the big teams category

In 2012 one of the fellow ikebana students also participated in this event and got a 2nd prize in small teams category. I will see if there is enough interest among the ikebanists to form a team and enter into the Amaryllis 2017 competition. You can express your interest either on Facebook or via e-mail ekaterina@ikebanaweb.com. The idea would be to make a clean and contemporary arrangement without clashing with the historical interior. Quite a challenge but also a great opportunity to introduce more people to the wonderful art of Ikebana.

To get a flavor of the past few events you can check out a Penterest Amaryllis Beloeil board with several short Youtube videos. It gives a pretty good picture of the spaces to fuel your inspiration.

An outside flower arrangement at Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 - withstanding the wind graciously
An outside flower arrangement at Amaryllis Beloeil 2016 – withstanding the wind graciously

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Sogetsu Ikebana arrangement "Wind" by Ekaterina Seehaus

Essential Japanese vocabulary for Ikebana students

A helpful list of 70 Janapese terms frequently used in Ikebana (downloadable in PDF format)

When I started learning Ikebana Japanese words Kenzan, Moribana and a few others entered my world. It was fun and it felt exotic. It also gave some subtle sense of belonging to a group connected by a distant, unfamiliar language.

There is some tribal feeling in having a special language. It does not even have to be a foreign language. Often it is a language of a professional group or an abbreviated language of a big company.  I could talk about it for a long time… If you joined a new company and you hear a sentence consisting of 7 words, 5 of which are acronyms, you do wan to learn the “local language” very fast. Trust me, I know from my experience how knowing the a group language makes you either fit in or alienates you if you do not master it. Back to Ikebana.

When I just began with Ikbebana I was not temped to start taking lessons of Japanese. Still I wanted to use the right terms and I wanted to pronounce them right. After a few months of studying our teacher gave us a list of essential Japanese vocabulary used in Ikebana. Since then whenever I came across a new word I added it to this list. Luckily my teacher is Japanese so I could always check with her if I got the pronunciation and the translation right.

Preview of the PDF document with 70 Japanese terms useful for ikebana students

And sometimes it is more than just translation. You need an explanation of the concept, which does not exist in English or in your culture. In my list of Japanese vocabulary for Ikebana  I did not go as far as writing up stories to give context for understanding the words. But recently I started accumulating articles and videos illustrating some of the unfamiliar concepts. I hope one day I can issue an update to the list with some multimedia links.

For now I decided to share with the Ikebana Web followers my current version of the Japanese vocabulary for Ikebana students. You can view it on-line or use a secure download (3 page PDF file).

Are there any other Ikebana terms you would like to add to the list? I would love to hear from you.

 

FleurAmour report on IkebanaWeb.com by Ekaterina Seehaus

FleurAmour 20: Where More is More

FleurAmour is an annual mega event for the floral world. It was the 20th anniversary of this happening hence the title FleurAmour 20 – in case you were like me thinking that it was intended to be FleurAmour 2015 on the header image and the “15” has just fallen off, no, it is supposed to be just “20”.

This event takes place in an old castle where dozens of indoor and outdoor spaces are decorated by professional florists and students. Lots of live demonstrations, shows, workshops… In one day I have seen more flowers and florists than I could handle 🙂 Jokes apart, I never expected to say that there are too many flowers. I suppose over the years Ikebana’s idea of the effective use of flowers and the minimalist view of “Less is More” has made some irreversible changes to my brain.

Apart from the overwhelming quantity of flowers, I have enjoyed the event greatly. So in the spirit of open-mindedness and focusing on the endless learning opportunities between the Eastern and Western floral art I went wondering through the Alden Biesen castle in Belgium.

Round shapes at FleaurAmour 2015 by Jan de Ridder - event report on IkebanaWeb.com
Round shapes at FleaurAmour 2015 by Jan de Ridder

A couple of themes I have found particularly interesting and somewhat enlightening at FleurAmour. First the shapes: the good old round shape still seems to be the most harmonic and self sufficient.  In the crowds of all possible sizes, colors and forms clean round shapes stood out quite distinctly.

Round shapes at FleurAmour by Fabio Pedone - event report on IkebanaWeb.com
Round shapes at FleurAmour 2015 by Fabio Pedone

This year’s decoration of the castle’s church was done by Stijn Simayes. He was also giving live demonstrations with explanations and a bit of small talk and jokes in 3 or 4 languages. You might love or hate jokes like “there are only 2 types of men: smart and married” but it did cause some multilingual laughter. What I really appreciated is his openness and down to earth approach. For example those large circles used in the decoration of the castle’s church are actually from an old kids’ trampoline. Those who follow me on the facebook know that I appreciate up-cycling and particularly using old useless stuff to create art. Another interesting and fresh element in this installation was the use of green aquatic plants floating on the water surface.

Decoration of the Castle Church by Tomas De Bruyne – up-cycling rings from a kids’ trampoline - event report at IkebanaWeb.com
Round shapes at FleaurAmour 2015: Decoration of the Castle Church by Stijn Simayes – up-cycling: the giant rings are from a kids’ trampoline

The second theme I enjoyed was the use of flower scents. Not all flower varieties are equally fragrant, especially those industrially grown. Therefore when you walk into a room filled with scent of roses you just wanted to stay there. I did spend quite some time going around this installation.

A Room Full of Rose Scent by Regine Motmans at Fleuramour - event report at IkebanaWeb.com
A Room Full of Rose Scent by Regine Motmans at Fleuramour

There was another installation with lavender made by Russian artists from Siberia. Lavender was arranged on top of a wire mesh, which gave sufficient shame but at the same time made the arrangement look floating and very much in tune with the fragrance. And yes, it was tempting to smell the arrangement. And a lot of visitors did.

A Lavender Scent Room by Vadim Karanskiy and Roman Steinhauer Fleuramour at FleurAmour - event report at IkebanaWeb.com
A Lavender Scent Room by Vadim Karanskiy and Roman Steinhauer at FleurAmour

And the final unexpected discovery of the FleurAmour 20: there was a booth of a neuroscientist from Australia. Yes, yes, there are people who study how human brain responds to flowers. For sure I want to find out more about it and share with you in one of the next posts. In short: there was a selection of different Gerbera flowers on display and visitors were voting on the website during the event for their favorite ones. You could see lights flashing above each flower when somebody clicked on the on-line picture of this particular flower. The most popular one was this white and red Gerbera:

The most popular Gerbera of FleurAmour 2015 - report from the event on IkebanaWeb.com
The most popular Gerbera of FleurAmour 2015

The reason? Apparently humans like contrast. Hmmm, something to keep in mind for the next arrangement.

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And the winner is….

Waterfall IkebanaWebFinally we can announce our Natural Creativity Challenge winner. The idea of this Challenge was to get people who have never been involved in Ikebana (or in any other type of flower arranging) to try making a flower composition. The main point is actually not the flower arrangement as such. It is more about restoring our connection with nature by communicating with flowers, branches and other plant material.

For the challenge folks were given a picture of a waterfall in a forest and were asked to reflect their impressions of the image in a flower arrangement. Simple… or may be not? Well, I did get feedback from some participants that it was simply too difficult and they are missing the “finesse”.

But with all that our winner Asya U. have done a great job of reflecting the mood, the colors and the movement of the original image. And she did not have any prior experience! Well done. Here is the picture and I’ll talk about the prize in a minute.

The winner of the Natural Creativity Challenge www.ikebanaweb.com
“The Waterfall” arrangement by Asya U., the winner of the Natural Creativity Challenge on IkebanaWeb.com

The prize is a 1 month free access to the Online Ikebana membership website. This will be a great resource for Asya to explore Ikebana principles, techniques and get inspiration for her creations.

For the rest of the Ikebana Web followers I can offer a link to some limited free training material courtesy of the Online Ikebana. Click on the link, register your e-mail and you will get instant access to one free lesson for beginners and to one for advanced Ikebana students.

Take this opportunity to explore your creativity further. Try it out and send me pictures of your arrangements 🙂

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