Burrs Bonsai workshop 2012 amazing experience

Its two days after the biggest Burrs workshop I have staged, and this being the seventh occasion I wanted to make it extra special. Special for the participants as they had the opportunity to work with some of the best bonsai artists in Europe, and special because I wanted to pay tribute to my dear friend HarleyRider who passed away suddenly earlier this year.

Day 1: Things started early on Thursday Morning at Manchester Airport collecting Hans van Meer who was flying in from Holland, we had a fun day in my garden relaxing, working on trees and preparing for the weekend. Hans has been a close friend for over 15 years and we can work closely as each understands the other. Later in the afternoon I collected Enrico and Rita who were arriving from Italy. That evening was spent along with Terry and his wife Charlotte, Will Baddeley, Simon, and Mikey at a nearby hostelry.

Day 2 Friday: Was focused in the garden working on the large Yew (more about this in another post) a Chuhin White Pine, and catching up with European Bonsai gossip! A few participants from the UK and Pavel Slovak arrived around midday with his group from the Czech and Slovak Republics; they had travelled over 2000km to be at the event. Burrs was coming together nicely, everyone arriving on time and enjoying being in the garden IN THE RAIN!  As day moved into night we all made our way to the workshop venue 3km from my garden… and to the Brown Cow country pub for food and refreshments. All evening long folk arrived and joined the bonsai throng… until we were forty persons strong.

I was very pleased when Erik Križovenský wanted to partake in the Burrs experience and he gave an amazing presentation on exactly how he makes his wonderful  pot ‘creations’ his surprise at the end of the show was to unveil 3 of his pots that were swiftly snatched up by ME! I left the assembled bonsai gathering and returned home to my bed.

Day 3 Saturday part 1: Whilst I looked after Enrico at my house for Breakfast, Bob Brunt was busy cooking up breakfast for over 30 hung over guys and a few not so. Arriving at 9.00am and after brief introductions a day of intensive bonsai was ahead for everyone.  Lots of trees were worked, some styled for the first time, some refined and some starting their journey to being a great bonsai.

Burrs participants range from complete beginners right the way through to artists with years of experience, all come because they want to learn, share, enjoy, laugh and have fun with like minded individuals. What makes Burrs that bit special is they come from across Europe and this year was no exception: Holland, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Israeli, Slovak Republic, and from the UK… Welsh, Geordies, Southern softies and even Yorkshire folk.

Day 3 part 2: Saturday Evening starts with everyone sharing their local/regional/national foods or drinks. I do not think I have seen such a selection of beers and spirits on the long table before. Carolyn along with helpers put together quite a spread. Once the tables were cleared of food the fun really started with the Czech guys singing Kde domov můj? (National Anthem) quickly followed by the Slovaks, the Welsh gave us The Oggy Oggy Oggy chant (NOT the national anthem) followed by Jose Redondo and ME doing the Tachinch (National Anthem) then Rob Atkinson and ME (again) giving a rendition of “Fog on the Tyne” this was later followed by a parade of tattooed men!

Day 4 Sunday: I arrived at 9.00am and was greeted by a few of the guys looking worse for wear, Will and Mikey simply had not gone to bed, choosing to stay up all night working, drinking and chatting. Most had gone to bed at a reasonable time (before 2.00am) and were fresh ’ish and ready for another full day of bonsai. Some new Trees were worked and some of the larger trees completed. Terry worked on a large pine that needed AT least 10 hours of wiring, fortunately this is possible at Burrs as the total time available to work is over 48 hours (if you do not sleep) Ian Stewartson turned up at 11.00 to see what all the fuss was about and was overwhelmed by the scale of the event and the enthusiasm of participants. The event was rounded off with a group photo.

Trees that were created will feature in a post shortly.


My Thanks goes out to:

  • My wife Carolyn who looked after artists, friends and fed 42 hungry participants
  • The artists: Enrico Savini, Hans van Meer, Pavel Slovak, Will Baddeley and Terry Foster for all their hard work and inspiration!
  • My Helpers: Bob Brunt, Mikey, David Barlow, Rob Atkinson
  • All the participants, without them it would not happen

Why the Burrs Bonsai workshop… works!

In November this year I will be hosting the Burrs VII, Burrs Workshops was introduced as a new way of learning the art of bonsai, in a purpose built training centre, huge warm and well lit workshop, full catering and expert help from some of Europe’s top award winning Bonsai artists.

Established in 2004 Burrs is the longest running annual Bonsai workshop in the UK. Previous visiting artist include: Carlos van der Varrt (NL) Enrico Savini (IT), Hans van Meer (NL), Ivo Saporiti (IT), Mario Kompsta (PL), Kevin Willson (UK), Morten Albek (DK), Pavel Slovak (CZ), John Armitage (UK)

The reason that Burrs is so successful is based on simple ideals. Employ the best bonsai artists, encourage participants to be open minded to possibilities, sharing of ideas and techniques and Time. The most important being Time… Burrs starts on Friday evening and ends on Sunday afternoon, more than enough time to complete a large tree, forest group or lengthy work on any number of trees.

Here is what participants have said about the workshops

“I want to thank all of the people at Burrs this year – my debut appearance. I was made most welcome from the moment I arrived. Many people offered me advice on my trees, bonsai in general … and life in general! Many more people tried to improve my poor wiring technique, I was well fed (thank you so much to Carolyn), I’ve made new contacts/friends, I have already met a couple of particularly great Burrs people after the event and intend to build on that and my head is still spinning with everything I learned.” Matt Addie aspiring bonsai artist

“Burrs is like no other bonsai event I have ever attended,  I struggle to find suitable adjectives to describe how unique an experience it is. I guess for me the best way to describe it is that 30 or so people fill the room with passion for Bonsai, for the whole weekend, and you have to experience that to appreciate it. This is what makes Burrs unique. You can learn so much without even working a tree. John Pitt Potter.

 “If Carlsberg did Bonsai Workshops they would not even get close to a Burrs weekend”.Please please pencil me in for the next November workshop” Andy (Stone Monkey) Pearson

Burrs workshops have grown from strength to strength over the last seven year,many
great bonsai have started their life at Burrs, and many participants have been inspired to create great bonsai. I am fortunate to have Terry Foster one of the UK’s most talented bonsai artist as my right hand man, and Carolyn (my amazing wife) who handles all the administration and catering (there is a whole new blog post in itself!)

Burrs VII is set to be the biggest and best yet with 15 participants already signed up. Take a look at the poster and Video’s and book your place before it’s too late.

I forgot to mention… Burrs Bonsai Workshops is probably the best fun weekend you will have in bonsai.