"Drawing a line"

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"Drawing a line"

Post  alex e on Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:56 pm

Not for the first time has this subject raised its head when a few
of us have got together with copious amounts of alcohol drunken.
Here in the UK we are indeed gifted with some fantastic bonsai artists
and with some of the best trees that should displayed with pride and at
EVERY!!! opportunity, BUT!the question was should a line be drawn between
those whom are financially privileged collectors from those who cultivate,
collect, style and nurture trees themselves from competition?,please do not
misunderstand me ! If someone spends £30 or 40 thousand I want to! and the
the bonsai fraternity should be able to see and admire that tree in all its splendour
BUT! separate from us mere mortals, perhaps then, maybe just maybe this would go some
way to dissuading those who feel they will never achieve such heights from leaving
our beautiful "Art", no offence to anyone is intended.

ThumbsUp Alex e

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  landerloos on Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:36 pm

Hi Alex,

I rember we did discus this aswell at one time in Denmark, wether newly imported or bought trees should be allowed in exhibits.
My opinion is if one hase the cash good for him why not display at a show, I never show my trees they are not that far yet.
Nothing changed after the discusion all imported newly imported trees are still showed the same year if one wants.
Sure you can envy the people that have the means to buy such trees or can collect them, thats healthy i geus.
Otherwise you should devide a show in to parts, the a-class the trees of pro's and or the rich and a b-class the rest of us.
I dont think thats healthy for the bonsaihobby in long term.

Just my 2 € Wink

Kind regards
Peter

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Drawing a line"

Post  Guest on Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:59 pm

Hello Alex. Firstly, I think anyone that gives up bonsai just because someone else spends a fortune, was never that serious in the first place. Secondly, who styles, maintains and prepares such trees for a show. Not the owner, that's for sure. It's probably worked on by one of those very talented individualds you mention. I feel all trees should be judged in the same way, regardless of their history or value. Bonsai is relatively young outside of Japan and most trees have only had one owner. As time goes on and a second and third generation will take over those trees and they will be judged as a bonsai, not by who originally styled them.

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  Joe Hatfield on Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:09 pm

What difference does it make if the tree was bought and shown by a collector or created by the actual person showing it? It is the tree being judged in these shows not the person who made it.

If the person was being honored for the work done, then a separate category, perhaps named "Shown and Grown", might be applicable. Not necessarily breaking up the show into bought or grown. I agree that would diminish certain elements.

I am not wealthy by any means so, I can understand what it's like to work at\on something very hard with a budget for a very long time and see someone who has the wealth, produce something in less time or acquire it without any real work being put into it by that said person. BUT, thats a matter of pride ,I think.




I have not participated in any contest with bonsai so, maybe I'm not part of that inner circle mindset or I'm missing a situational example that I can pull from to add an emotional element to my opinion.

-Joe

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  JimLewis on Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:43 pm

This is why I frown on Competitions (Capital "C"). No Too many people want to WIN! scratch Exclamation Generally speaking, I avoid them (the competitions and . . .)

I have never bought and shall never buy a "specimen" bonsai. (I was given one, once. I left it behind in Florida.) The only pre-bonsai I've paid money for was for a workshop or two (and generally speaking, they weren't much to brag about). I have three or four trees that I feel good enough about to show every now and then but I'm certainly not vain enough to think they'd WIN something if they were entered in a contest. That's fine with me.

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  Storm on Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:49 pm

Im quite eager when it comes to my hobbies. Im not after being the best. I know that there will always be people more technically skilled than me too.
When it comes to bonsai I enjoy working on them. Im not after those trees that cost a half a million or something.
When it comes to value to me, it doesnt matter what others say about it. Ofcourse I want input from people who knows what they talk about, to help me get a better eye when it comes to styling trees etc. I also want as much knowledge as possible, so the trees will be in as good care as possible.
I think that if people start getting more and more interested in winning competitions, they are losing an essential part of it. Its not a view on things from nature, but something crafted by man who follows rules and going for something too perfected. And what is perfection really? Something a panel of judges say about your bonsai, or something that you can look at and say that you love, and you know you have done by yourself?
Would you be as proud of an million-dollar bonsai that you just bought, as you would be of a tree you have styled from the start and you have had and cared for over 10 or 50 years for that matter?
Im probably just going here now. But all im really trying to say is, that Im working with bonsai for myself. Not for anyone else.
And I would never let anyone work on my tree =)

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  Tony on Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:24 pm

I have strong views on this subject but will wait until the discussion has been live for a few days.. to really light the blue 'touch' paper

In an exhibition... is it the tree or the work done that is 'judged'?

Also providence is a stupid notion "this tree was styled/owned by (insert 'famous' name here) does this make it more 'pleasing to the eye' even if the tree is way out of the style created all those years back?

Tony

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  Gæst on Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:03 pm

Members want it, but maybe exhibitions should be without any prize winners. That might stop (or not) the focus on who makes/owns the bonsai, and replace it with a more pure enjoying of the bonsai as art piece.
In Denmark we give the exhibitors the possibility of not being part of the contest at exhibitions, but almost no one choose that option. Rolling Eyes
All wants the "fame" - and there is a large focus on people in the international community in general - pleasing ego's Neutral
Regards
Morten Albek

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  Tony on Tue Mar 16, 2010 1:18 pm

When Danny chose NOT to have awards at Ginkgo, the whole event suffered. being selected is not enough sometimes.

Competition is an integral part of the bonsai scene, don't like it... then don't enter Razz

Tony

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"Drawing a line"

Post  alex e on Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:26 pm

PETER, my point was not whether they should be exhibited No without question
they should be shared with the bonsai community.

WILL, surprisingly we know someone who did give it up before they had really started,
17 years old smitten & keen as mustard attended our workshops every week,then we
introduced him to his first show/exhibition that was a year and a half ago, we later found
out he had enquired as to the value of certain trees at which point he decided he couldn't
compete with such like, a real shame Sad how many of us wish we had started at that age
with the knowledge that is now readily available Question .

JOE, The tree may be being judged BUT! when have you ever seen an award given to
Mr Pinus Sylvestris or Miss Juniperus Chinensis or Joe Bloggs the creator?? No its the
owner of the tree who could have in theory purchased it the day before.

STORM, Re - the knowledge aspic you are spot on!! there are only two pieces that can be
bestowed 1,Where was it bought & 2, how much did it cost ,hardly the Bronze droplet of
Knowledge is it!!.

TONY, So those not withstanding yourself that have for the last 20-30 yrs or more attended
Exhibitions,Workshops,Demonstrations,read books watched video/dvd,s,gone out collecting
Yamadori in some god awful weather conditions,trained ,styled ,cultivated & nurtured trees
should forget all that and mortgage your home and buy such like Specimens!.
" If you don,t like it ..don,t enter" quote smacks a little of Elite ism and will hardly endear
people to our Art/Hobby call it what you will!, re- Ginko agreed just being selected SHOULD!! be
more than enough, if not, does the Bonsai fraternity really need such individuals, from the 4 I,ve
been lucky to attend there was no shortage of trees or Joe public.

MORTEN, Your last statement will probably jangle a few nerves
:afraid: but probably not a million miles away!

To coin a cliche " IT,S NOT THE WINNING ITS THE TAKEN PART"
ThumbsUp

Regards to all Alex

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  Jim Doiron on Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:36 pm

I remember this topic being discussed on the AoB forum where the original article framed it as two parties, one good and one evil. The evil peoples being those that work their way into the bonsai world through their wallet versus those that get their the hard way, through work and skill.

http://artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=2754&hilit=Force

The fact is that this is directly related to the question of bonsai as a respected art form shown in galleries like "proper" art. If one believes that this art form deserves that level of appreciation by the broader public then it will come with the inevitable side effect of making these works of art more of a desired commodity. As that market rises then so too will services around it. Art collections the world over rely on others to manage, care for, repair, and show their art collections while they count their money but no one ever said, "that Peggy Guggenheim has a great art collection but she didn't paint any of them." I would think that there are some out there who might enjoy a career as a hired caretaker of great bonsai collections just as the art world has. The fact that they are living sculpture doesn't have any real bearing either, the art world is constantly throwing new materials at collectors that require new ways of storing, caring for and showing pieces. As an artist I wouldn't think twice about selling work because the buyer might claim they did it or because there is a chance it might burn up in their house during a fire (i.e. killing you tree). The key here is simple documentation, you document the tree you created at the time of sale. If they choose to change it or have someone else change it then it is up to them just as you can't stop someone hanging your painting up-side down if they like it better that way. I think if we want the recognition we all think these works deserve the we have to be willing to accept all that may come with it, good or bad. I think it will require some changes in terms of shows just as you see juried shows of contemporary artists down the street from shows of some collector. I would not mind at all going to a show of trees under the "Collection of..." title.
I think awards are a vital part of it just as the Turner prize,Guggenheim Fellows, McArther Awards (some of the largest of them of course) are a vital part of the art world. Lets also not forget that these awards often come with cash awards and many of those are funded by large collectors. Who among us would not like a grant to study bonsai on somebody else's dime (or shilling as the case may be).
As an artist it offends me to no end that Thomas Kincaid is so G*#$ D#$m popular when many of his paintings are prints "re-touched" by apprentices (talk about evil) but the fact is that you can't force taste on the masses you can only continue to make what you think is art that is true to your senses and then hope that a select few agree with you (and are willing to pay big bucks for your genius...are you out there Mr/Mrs Moneybags?) Very Happy

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"Drawing a line"

Post  alex e on Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:07 pm

JIM, may the "light force" be with us always ThumbsUp ThumbsUp

Alex

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:26 pm

I only have one or two trees any where close to showing. I have no problem displaying a tree for viewing, I doubt if I ever show a tree for competitions sake.

My trees are all works in progress, some of them are works with no progress. I enjoy working and experimenting with them. At the same time I really enjoy going to the shows and looking at the trees of other enthusiasts,

SOOOOO! I guess, if you want your tree to be judged seperate from the specialty import. You might have to start your own show and make seperate categories or go to a show that already does it. If you don't mind going against the "big boys" then go for it and enjoy the results.

Jay

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  Tony on Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:30 am

Hi Alex, I understand the frustration amongst 'artists' that someone with the cash can usurp their efforts by 'purchasing' amazing mature 'finished' material. It would be a sad day indeed if our national shows were dominated by (for want of a better phrase) "impressive imported bonsai that have matured over many years by experienced hands"

Lets not forget David Barlow one of my students who collected his yamadori beech tree, established, developed and refined the raft and went on to secure a Ginkgo award at the last event. The cost to David was time, hard work and a good eye and not $$$$ or ££££.

I have also drawn a line in the sand and announced HERE on this forum that two of my students who are on this forum will exhibit in a major show within the next few years, (without buying an impressive imported bonsai that have matured over many years by experienced hands)

Footnote: I am pleased to say that I have NEVER purchased any tree/material that has secured a prize or place in an exhibition, unfortunately our society is based on: "I want it NOW! and if I cannot have it now I will pay for it!" Good trees will always come through, they just take time. Rolling Eyes

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"Drawing a line"

Post  alex e on Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:30 pm

Hi Tony, thanks for that I could feel a lump come to my throat Crying or Very sad at the fact
for once you might almost agree with me , I saw that little beech at Ginko and
indeed a little beut!!case and point re- hard work and dedication like you say
will always shine through [eventually] bubbles will always rise to the top Wink
" damn!" how profound was that ! study Suspect My conclusion is thus..
ALL! trees should be exhibited with the proviso the owner has played a part in
its care & styling and NOT!! just by virtue of its owners financial prowess No such
individuals should be appointed a guest exhibitor status at exhibitions and any
award pertaining to that status should be separate from the rest in the case of
competition & exhibiting, rocket science it is not No an even playing field it is!!!! Cool.

Alex e

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  Tony on Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:48 pm

Hi Alex, I do actually agree with you in principal, but because of the administration, donkey work and politics it will never happen... so I live with it... if you cannot stand the heat do not go into the kitchen.

When Ian Stewartson (a fine UK patron of bonsai) 'wins' an award... he is the first to say... "its not me... Its (insert artist name here) who did the work that should get the credit"

Ask the artist who did the work and (usually) they will say "its the tree, not me"

I think that far from being discouraged by these "amazing imports" we as artists should be inspired, not throwing the towel in saying that we can never create should results. This is what keeps my interest in the art, the belief that I can, and I can encourage others to achieve greatness, again... if you shoot for the moon and miss you will still be amongst the stars.

Bath is less than 2 days away.

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  fiona on Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:49 am

I find it quite amusing that on this forum, so many people have so often held up the "Japanese way" as the be all and end all of bonsai, trotting out such statements as "those are the rules" or "if it's good enough for Japan" or "that's how the Japanese do it". So how very convenient then in this debate to ignore what happens at the top Japanese exhibitions which is that a significant number of the trees displayed seldom if ever see the hand of their owner. No-one there holds their hands up in horror and makes accusations of "chequebook bonsai" or tells the owners that somehow they are, shock horror, cheating.

As far as I am concerned an exhibition is quite simply a showing of art works where hopefully the best in the art form are on display. If the organisers want to stick some sort of awards on to it then we have to live with the fact that the judging will always be pretty much subjective (and therein is another topic entirely.) I personally agree with some other contributors to this thread that at a bonsai exhibition it is the tree that is on display. If it has been bought, I really don't care as long as I am seeing an inspiring tree. That's what I've paid my entry money to the exhibition for. If it is an inspiring tree and I know it has been crafted by Steve Tolley or Tony Tickle or Dan Barton or wee Senga fae Dunoon Bonsai Club, I will be doubly happy to see it. But that won't necessarily make it a better tree.

So, tell me this. I own a tree styled by Dan Barton which appeared at Best of British last year and which is making an appearance this weekend. I bought that tree from Dan three years ago or so. That's three growing seasons in which I have looked after it horticulturaly and stylistically. That it is pretty much the same style and design as when I bought is simply because I don't believe it would be bettered by restyling it, and so I have elected to keep it pretty much as it as when purchased. That latter has taken some work by my hand. So whose tree is it - Dan's or mine? Take on then Will's point about what happens if the original crafter has died. Should the heirs to the tree be denied the opportunity to show it?

I am hopefully at the tail end of this weekend going to have the pleasure of seeing Ian Stewardson's collection. I have enormously enjoyed seeing a few of his trees at various exhibitions. It would really really irritate me if I was to be denied seeing any more of his trees at UK exhibitions just because a few people can't accept that as well as having artists, most art forms have collectors and professional exhibitors as well. We can't all be Picassos, but if I win the Lottery this Saturday and buy a Picasso, why should I not let the world see it at exhibitions? If we are going to debar people who merely buy rather than style trees on the basis of it "not being a level playing field", then should we not also bar professional bonsai artists from competing in the same exhibitions as amateurs? Straying towards the ridiculous? Sorry, but no different to what has already been put forward in my book. Life is full of injustices - real and perceived. Live with it.

This thread could rumble on for decades and nobody would end up any the better of it - just as has happened in all the previous outings the topic has had on various fora. A final word to those in the UK. If we go down this road of only allowing people to "compete" in exhibitions if they have played a major part in the creating of the tree, then are we not merely promulgating the flower show mentality that I for one have been trying to break free from for the past eight years?


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Drawing a Line

Post  bonsaisr on Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:57 am

The same problem exists in other hobbies, like dog shows. Many purebred dogs, perhaps the majority, are not shown by their owners, but by professional handlers, like bonsai in Japan. The most expensive dog is likely to win, not the best-loved housepet. The problem is somewhat offset by having amateur or novice, as well as open classes. Also, most large American shows have a Bred-by-Exhibitor class. In obedience competition, the handler is more likely to also be the owner. I think having a judged show is educational. However, I agree that there should be some specification of how long the tree has been with its present owner. Like many flower shows, a newly purchased tree should be allowed in the show, but perhaps not accepted for judging.
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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  John Quinn on Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:37 am

When I go to a bonsai exhibit, be it the Kokufu-ten or a local club show, I am interested in seeing the trees. I don't really care who owns the tree (and usually don't even ask) or who may have styled it previously, unless I happen to know the person involved and then out of interest only. IMHO, the award goes to 'the tree' in a sense, not to the 'owner'. I'd agree with the viewpoint expressed by Fiona.

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"Drawing a line"

Post  alex e on Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:54 am

Hi Fiona, all fair points a lot I am not in disagreement with No but tell me
did Dan style your "cheque book" specimen tree or a piece of raw/semi raw
material? and remind me ..who has for the last "three growing seasons"
looked after it "horticulturely" & "stylistically" ...say nae mare!!!


Tony re- Ian Stewardson any bonsai artist/ enthusiast who is not in awe or
aspire to his trees needs to do stamp collecting or rabbit breeding !!!!!!!!!!

N B, I LOVE HOT KITCHENS ThumbsUp lol!


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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  fiona on Thu Mar 18, 2010 9:04 am

alex e wrote: ... to do stamp collecting or rabbit breading !!!!!!!!!!

N B, I LOVE HOT KITCHENS
You'll need a hot kitchen (or oven at least) to make those rabbits into bread.

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  JimLewis on Thu Mar 18, 2010 12:06 pm

When I go to a show, I don't care either who owns or who "made" the tree. I like to see the tree.

My rant was -- and is -- against the competitions.

As for the rest of it, to me, bonsai is in the making, not the owning. I may -- read, "will" -- never own a prize-winning tree, but I "made" every damned one of them.

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  bumblebee on Sun Mar 21, 2010 6:41 pm

Fiona,

Off the subject I know, but..............is fora really the plural of forum?

Libby

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  JimLewis on Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:08 pm

I'm not Fiona, but the answer is ONLY if you are a long-dead Roman.

We modernists use forums.

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Re: "Drawing a line"

Post  littleart-fx on Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:21 pm

Alex, what is the question here,........? Suspect

In little bonsailand we live by unwritten rules, and i admire this forum especialy ........trees have set up here humbely,
If anyone can spend a fortune on a tree he buys what a seedling could become.
Them path's in achieving this are not the same.....but are there

Here in Holland we call this comparing apples from pears......

The competition statements are made, live it.
(Hmmm sorry world i call them politics..... they havent got nothing to do with the effort made in one single tree and the tree doesn't show that)

If you are a competitive person it curls toe's (the end of feet)
If you are not you want to show the achievement you made, you can stumble uppon a price,....nice

i do and take an edit,......the artist owns the tree,......you pay i make hombre.......artists need material....and yes i know...more more more!

I am living bonsai now since 5 years in these years with help from eric sanders i made some good starters it just begins now.
Patience in growing and gathering knowledge is for me far out the best thing, bonsai's don't run bounce the one who cares could do that for them Evil or Very Mad

See shows, learn gather and take the adrenalin of it,......and shove it bit by bit in the pots u own,....my humble opinion.

And yes, sharing knowledge is a gift!

Grtzz from Holland, where my turtles had there first meal since..........yes i hate snow!

Edit,...the creator takes credit and wants to form,.....the owner? the creator needs input and material......more more more.....this is how it works
and i know,.....sorry Embarassed

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Re: "Drawing a line"

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