Book Review: ‘Cosmic Bonsai – Burton Style’

‘Cosmic Bonsai – Burton Style’ by Laurent Darrieux

This is not a book on how to create Bonsai, nor is it a book for anyone starting in the art-form. However, if you want to understand what goes on in the mind of the author, an artist that presents an image of the atomic bomb alongside a twisted Elm Bonsai, or a robot figurine squaring up to an equally twisted apple Bonsai then this is the read for you.

‘Cosmic Bonsai’ is like no other book on or about Bonsai that I have read, it is more concerned with an attitude, an approach and a realisation that there is something deeper to creating Bonsai than simply working with trees. We explore the conviction of the author to his craft, his influences beyond what one would expect from an artist working with a ‘traditional’ art form (if Bonsai can BE considered an art form)

I found the content to be fascinating, sometimes a little unsettling and surprisingly gentle in many ways. Where else would you expect to find in a book on Bonsai a coloration between, a Romanesco cabbage, Fractals and Ferns?

The Author champions other artists including potters, illustrators and Bonsai practitioners. The book charts the progress of some of the authors work, including the spectacular ‘Tanuki’ presented at the European Bonsai San Show, Saulieu, France.

One of my favourite comments in the book: “In the terms of Bonsai, the maturity of a tree, its moshikomi, its wabi-sabi is much more important than the external elements that you will add to your composition. This is the reason why we see so little progress in the world of contemporary Bonsai.”

I consider Laurent Darrieux to be a ‘Brother in Arms’ we share the same approach to our art, presenting Bonsai in such a way as to spark a conversation, to elicit controversy and to escape the confines of what is considered to be ‘Traditional’ display.

Should you buy this book?

If you wish to broaden your experience and explore new ideas and concepts in presentation, then this is the book for you. If you are a beginner, wait until you have worked with Bonsai for a few years before you delve into the mind of this amazing artist and his work. And as for ‘Burton Style’ You will have to buy the book to know why it’s called that.

You can purchase the book here:

Wonderful book about Japanese Shohin Trees & Antique Pots with English subtitles

I was quite excited this morning as I took receipt of a beautiful book from the Japan Shohin Bonsai Association. My teenage son thought it was something for him when he saw the package as all the stamps were Manga Cartoon Characters. Even my Cat wanted to get in on the action when I was photographing for the blog!

I buy about 10 books a year most are from Japan and a few exhibition books from European events. My knowledge of the Japanese language is limited, confined to Bonsai terms along with “Hello” and “Thank you” so this limits my enjoyment to browsing the photos. But this publication differs as it has ENGLISH subtitles!
This book is more than a celebration of Shohin Bonsai, it’s an encyclopaedia of Shohin Bonsai pots and a real addition to any personal bonsai book library. The high quality photography and print are up there with famous ‘Kokofu’ Exhibition Catalogues. Perhaps the most ‘fun’ part of the book is that most photos of trees and pots appear to be ‘life’ size which is great because you can see the work done with the trees and fine detail in the pots, especially those with ‘scenes’ painted on the sides (and sometimes inside).

The book is published in Japan by the All Japan Shohin Bonsai Association as a celebration of their 30th anniversary. There are 363 Shohin Bonsai and antique pots which were registered as master piece of “Yuuga Bonsai, Bonki” 12 years in a row by the All Japan Shohin Bonsai Association.

I believe that this is only book published in Japan which explains in detail Japanese Shohin trees and antique pots with English subtitles.

This is where my book was purchased and it arrived in less than a week from when it was ordered