Germany Efficiency you better believe it!

I was a guest artist at the Bonsai Triennale, 20-22. June 2014, Pillnitz, Dresden, Germany.

Hand drills remove the screwsThe Bonsai Triennale is the joint project of the Central German Bonsai Regional Association and the National Bonsai organisations in Poland and the Czech Republic it’s in the fourth edition and returns after 2011. The event took place in the beautiful ambience of the orangery of the castle and Pillnitz

Almost 2000 visitors enjoyed a high level exhibition and a packed program of demos and lectures. What impressed me the most was the team behind the show.

Having a good team is crucial to the success of a Bonsai show, you have to have people you can rely on, who work hard and are prepared to take on any job to ensure that the event is a great experience for visitors.

I did not see the build up of the show but witnessed the breakdown, the guys and girls worked like a well-oiled machine; everyone knew EXACTLY what to do and where to be to clear the venue as quickly as possible. The whole event was cleared in under 2 hours… AND they were not happy as they had done if faster on previous occasions… Germany Efficiency you better believe it!

The cloths are carefully removed

everything stcked neatly

Everything in one van

 

EUK Bonsai Ten in Diepenbeek, Belgium

The teamLast weekend I attended the rather special EUK Bonsai Ten in Diepenbeek, Belgium. I attended with a friend from Italy. I was a trader and a demonstrator and this being my first time at this club I did not know what to expect. What very quickly became apparent was the incredible organisation and planning that had gone into the staging of this ‘club’ bonsai show. It was Friday evening, the whole show was staged and ready for business, a few traders had set up their shops and the excitement was palpable. I finally met up with Tom Benda an amazing potter from Czech Republic, we are working together…watch this space!

The exhibition featured an excellent club show with many superb trees worthy of a national exhibition and a show from Mario Komsta that was literally breathtaking in presentation and quality of trees, each being in a black Tokonoma individually lit. This was a benchmark for bonsai in Europe.

untitled-6942The demonstrators Viriato Oliveira and Márcio Meruje from Portugal,  François Jeker from France, Enrico Savini from Italy, Mark and Ritta Cooper and ME! Most of the guys worked on trees however Mark, Ritta and I gave digital presentations that were very well received with many people standing and crowding the doorway.

A Huge thanks for inviting me to this amazing show to the guys and girls of Bonsai Club Eda Uchi Kai, in particular Hans Vleugels, Inge and JP Polmans for their generosity and opening their house to a bunch of renegade bonsai artists.

All photos supplied by Roland Petek, take a look at his extensive blog and lots more photos of the Bonsai Club Eda Uchi Kai show http://roland-bonsai-eng.blogspot.co.uk/

First styling for a Mugo Pine

Pine overlay

The styled tree laid over the raw material (Photoshop)

I traded a small Yew for this Mugo Pine at The Burrs workshop 2012, it was planted in a large flat plastic seed tray in a soil mixture not suitable for the rather damp conditions where I live. Whilst re-potting I saw that all the roots were on one side so decided to change the angle and make a cascading tree. The tree responded well and has thrived all year. Today I styled the tree, I have not wired to the tips of the needles because at this stage refinement is NOT my objective. Branch placement and the establishment of the design. The next few years will be bud development and refining the design.

Original photo 2

update image due to a discussion on EBF 

new bend

Create the smallest Bonsai possible with the material you have

In the dark depths of my memory I remember a phrase spoken by another artist during a lecture/demo… “Create the smallest Bonsai possible with the material you have” … and lets face it BONSAI are supposed to be small trees. Despite the plethora of large trees being shown in major exhibitions I have noticed an upsurge in ‘small’ bonsai… Note the recent major Shohin exhibition here in the UK and the growth of the British Shohin Association over the last few years. Certainly many artists of my generation (and older) suffer from ‘Bad backs’ due to carrying over large bonsai.

Many large bonsai do possess drama and ‘presence’ but so do small trees… AND I believe that small trees are more challenging, far more attention to detail and a delicate touch is required.

I have just styled this ‘Kifu’ Taxus. When the tree was collected from the cliff face it was over 1.5 metres in height and a double trunk. The original idea was a Chuhin size but the fascinating area around the nebari and a twisting live vein leading to a strong branch enabled this tree to become a Kifu size bonsai. It is planted in a lovey circular pot by Milan Klika.

Kifu Yew April 2013

the Kifu taxus styled today

Kifu Yew original

Not quite as collected, the top of the tree has been reduced

Kifu Yew original style

This was how the tree was originally styled but it simply did not look OK