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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:
As part of my tour of Israel we visited the Dead Sea the lowest place on Earth, its surface and shores are 423 metres below sea level, Earth’s lowest elevation on land… and it is everything that you have read about and seen on TV. IT IS VERY HOT! 40c when were stopped the car to go bathing. It is very large although not as large as 10 years ago as it is being drained by industrial processes for its mineral content, the bank showing ‘contour’ lines where it has dropped in level, with one ‘coastal’ town now almost a kilometer from the edge of the water! Prior to bathing Ofer invited us to smear ourselves with the Black Dead Sea Mud Black mud found along the shoreline is also rich in minerals and is often used in skin treatments although it did not reduce my tummy cellulite.
After the Dead Sea we made our way to a Bedouin Camp for an over night stay and meal around the fire. The camp was in The Negev, which extends over Israel’s southern region and accounts for over half of Israel’s land area. Due to its desert character, however, this region is sparsely populated.
The next day we visited Beit-Govrin Caves, located deep in the Negev Desert in Israel lies the dwellings of an ancient people who once populated the inhospitable locale. Approximately 6500 years ago the Negev received more rainfall than it does today making it more fertile and livable. In 1977 Shiqmim was discovered by a group of archaeologists revealing large underground tunnel systems and dwellings we took a look around these and they were quite amazing. BIG chambers, small tunnels and whole living areas built underground.
One of the best parts of staying over at a Bonsai masters house is that you can get up close and personal to the trees, this video shows ‘The Eye of The Cyclone’ Juniper Bonsai from all angles. It’s an amazing tree and the work done is superb. I first saw this tree when It won the Noelanders Trophy in 2010.
Was it worth driving for 21 hours and 1122 miles (1805 km) one way to participate in a bonsai show? The answer on this occasion is a resounding YES as THIS was no ordinary show. Arco Bonsai Club and UBI invited the cream of Italian (and invited guest… ME!) to the XVI° CONGRESSO UBI and XXVII° ARCOBONSAI.
Almost 100 trees were exhibited with sixty selected to be featured in the annual book. There were a few trees familiar to me but most were new trees that I had not seen before. As you would expect the majority of bonsai were Mediterranean species, Olives, Pines, Junipers and Myrtles however in the show were a few oaks, hawthorns (including mine) and beech. The exhibition was made up of many large and VERY large trees. I counted only 10 trees that were Chuhin or smaller. There was only one display of Shohin. The judging of the trees took EIGHT HOURS and was headed up by Enrico Savini, great care was taken as the previous year a lot of controversy surrounded the selection of prizes.
The venue is the Casinò Municipale (it’s NOT a Casino) in Arco, Trentino which is in the far north just south of the Austrian Border… and what a great venue! The exhibition halls are baroque and very ornate the demo rooms (15 Italian artists all working at the same time) were large and well lit. A huge bonus was a café/bar on site (Superb Coffee 1€) that was the meeting and chilling place for the event. When the sun did shine everyone sat out on the veranda.
Over 45 traders selling all things Bonsai filled the outdoor and the entrance to the show. Noticeably there was the very large amount of Yamadori sellers however the stock on sale was surprisingly poor…any real quality was over 2500€. There was a great selection of potters but NONE from the UK (see my opening sentence) Next year the show is in the south of Italy, this will add a further 800 miles to my journey! But when good coffee is only 1€ I’m not complaining.
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