I got the idea from Dan Barton 25 years ago.

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I got the idea from Dan Barton 25 years ago.

Post  Mike Jones on Wed Jun 02, 2010 10:14 am

Where and when did accent plantings make their mark? Like I said, Dan Barton got me into accent plantings. Personally I adore them.

Mike

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I got the idea from Dan Barton 25 Years Ago

Post  kora on Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:56 pm

Bonsai display has evolved in the last 30+ years. f.i. the Kokufu exhibition book No.50(34 years ago) shows NO companion plants-neither with the individual trees-nor in a photo of the overview of the exhibit, while Taikan-ten book no 1, 30 years ago DOES show companion plants in overview photos of the show, but not with the individual trees printed in the book. Companion plants were primarily used in tokonoma type displays. Now at Kokufu-ten we see companion plants with almost every tree-however the big trees are often not photographed with companion plants.
Companion plants have gained their importance, because many bonsai shows have become increasingly preoccupied with the art of display, and not just with the quality of the tree exhibited-its now the tree, the pot, the stand, the scroll, the suiseke, and the companion plant as they relate to each other.

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Re: I got the idea from Dan Barton 25 years ago.

Post  Mike Jones on Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:42 pm

Thank you Kora. Nice to get a response. Thanks again.

Mike

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Igot my idea from dan barton 25 years ago

Post  kora on Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:48 pm

more info: I went back to Kokufu 43, 1969-there were photos of companion plants-would hazard to guess however, that today in Japan, they would not approve of many of the selections-also kokufu 49 clearly shows companion plants as part of their display. so fashions change all the time! The only thing consistent is change!

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Re: I got the idea from Dan Barton 25 years ago.

Post  Chris Cochrane on Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:38 pm

Hi Mike... I'm glad Kora responded-- she is the best. One of her articles regarding accents & companion plantings is the best I've encountered to better appreciate these plants in exhibits. Two nights ago my bonsai club had a kusamono workshop from Young Choi, who creates displays at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. One of our members stated at the end of the program that she would devote herself to kusamono, and I hope she does.

Among the earliest tray scenes were stones accented by miniature grass at their base; Rolf Stein's book The World in Miniature & Robert Baran's "Magical Miniature Landscapes" website offer details. I'm not sure you could call a plant in the same pot an accent, but that appears to be its function as well as more fully expressinf a natural scene and season. In China, grass & other non-woody (e.g, flower) plantings in pots alongside miniature tray landscapes or individual bonsai occur in outdoor settings at an early date and are documented in paintings at least as old as early Ming Dynasty. Complementary plants (especially miniature grass) placed in the same pot to accent stones are identified earlier.

In Japan, early indoor display space was for objects of spiritual contemplation which precluded use of pots containing “profane” soil. The founder of the Urasenke tea school Soshitsu Sen (17th c.) encouraged planted grass to replace cut flowers for nighttime tea ceremony—at the time of day when a flower would not be expected to extend its bloom..

If considering a complementary plant as a shitakusa companion to bonsai in an arranged indoor display, that was probably introduced by Japanese literati practicing sencha-seki displays of seasonal, locational, metaphorical, poetic &/or literary allusion beginning in the late Edo period. In addition to grasses and flowering plants, other popular accents/companion objects for sencha enthusiasts included Chinese artifacts, tea utensils, writing utensils, baskets or trays of fruit &/or leaves and suiseki. The Japanese literati also used wood (or bamboo) appreciated for exceptional natural (or deftly crafted as though by nature) contour, texture or finish as display objects as well as utensils (stands, mats, trays et al.).

Sencha-seki (Chinese-style tea “environment”) taste in private, semiprivate & public exhibition space (including banqueting facilities lined with display alcoves) found in bonsai a decorative element which was sometimes promoted as the central element of display. The 3-volume Bijutsu bonsai-zu/Artistic Bonsai Catalog (documenting an 1891 exhibition) & the Juraku-kai Zuroku/Juraku-group Exhibit Drawings (publ. 1903), show privately sponsored exhibits with bonsai among display arrangements. The first public exhibition of bonsai solely for the purpose of viewing bonsai was in Hibiya Park in 1927 (continuing annually to 1933). It was the precursor to the Kokufuten.

Since the Hibiya Park format grew from the exhibitions which were less public that included a wide variety of objects complementing bonsai, I’d be surprised if all accents disappeared from exhibits. Tom Elias published an article for BCI which is republished on John Oldland’s website Bonsai in Asia Guide, Tom wrote:
Bonsai exhibits were common in Japan prior to the late 1920's; however, these were private showings typically held in traditional Japanese restaurants. Bonsai, suiseki and accompanying items were displayed in tokonoma lining the walls of large banquet rooms. There, invited guests could view the plants on display.
Complementary plants in their own pots are common in these exhibits. The catalog Juraku-kai Zuroku shows rooms suggesting the Chinese-style taste of notable Japanese taste-makers rather than a primary focus on bonsai. The catalog Bijutsu bonsai zu illustrates bonsai in a wide variety of arrangements with other objects as complete views for appreciation. In Japan, taste in Chinese-style at that time was looking back upon sages of old who inspired the Chinese literati for inspiration rather than contemporary Chinese style.

In the Kokufuten Anniversary book (gold book w/ blue cover), illustrations from the 2nd & 3rd Kokufuten exhibits as well other early exhibits sometimes include a separately-potted, non-woody complementary plant. Hibiya Park illustrations for the 1928 exhibit include a complementary plant.

At Dan Barton's residential seminar, I was introduced to accent pots by his wife Ce. She used the accent pot form to test glazes for Dan's larger pots. The varieties in balance of mass & exceptional glazes of Ce's pots turned my attention to shitakusa before I knew that term. Of course, Murata's Four Season's of Bonsai simply sparkles with use of non-woody material. Kaori Yamada's saika is extraordinary & often combines immature woody plants with non-woody material.

I've heard Jerry Stowell note that similar forms were gaining popularity after World War II (following loss of much traditional bonsai material in Japan). Nippon Bonsai Association was formed partially to assure bonsai in its mature artistic form would not lose ground to immature tree or kusa planting as popular introductions into the art. Ichiu Katayama supported kusamono as a traditional art in Keido display, which drew few but exceptional supporters and continues influence in display. Saburo Kato's exceptional support of Keiko Yamane's kusamono school has helped spread its fame in Japan & abroad. At the 5th World Bonsai Convention (Washington DC, 2005), Mr. Kato along with every Nippon Bonsai Association director attending the convention attended Keiko Yamane's kusamono workshop as an engaged observer.

_________________
... visit the U.S. National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, Washington DC USA-- http://www.bonsai-nbf.com

Chris Cochrane
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Re: I got the idea from Dan Barton 25 years ago.

Post  Mike Jones on Wed Jun 30, 2010 1:28 pm

Chris

Thank you. That was one heck of a comprehensive reply and one of which I am still studying.

My sincere thanks

Mike

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Re: I got the idea from Dan Barton 25 years ago.

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