A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

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A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Ravi Kiran on Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:15 am

Besides creating bonsai which is a joyous journey in itself, Bonsai Display has its own varied hues. The traditional Tokonoma display with a scroll, Suiseki and/or an accent planting has been relished and enjoyed over the years.

An integral part of Japanese Culture (which is not the reason why I recommend this) is a Haiku or a poem. Being the closet poet that I am prompted me to add a lyrical dimension to Bonsai display. What if trees could talk?? Better still write poems!!!??? If they could do this, then what would they want to say to the viewer??? With these thoughts I had tried out a different accompaniment to Bonsai display in our recently concluded Bi-Annual exhibition in Oct 2010. For two of my trees, I had written four line poems in first person (as if the trees were talking to the viewer) and this placard was placed on the stand as part of the display. The pics and the poems are as below....


With dreams of joy that can't be stolen
And a heart that can't be broken
Over years I've grown and stand tall
Come winds or rain or spring or fall


I've held my ground through the years
My back is bent but I've shed my fears
I have one desire as I look around
To smell the air and to touch the ground


I was curious as to how the people would respond and those who did stop to read the poem (and they were quiet a few) invariably ended up smiling and then looked at the tree a second time. A few dragged their relatives and friends to the tree and made them read the poem...

And yes this needs to be used (if at all) sparingly. Having a poem for all the displayed trees would be too much of a good thing...(IMHO)

Do let me know your views on this approach...

Regards
Ravi

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  fiona on Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:31 am

I think it is a great idea but my personal preference is for what Paul Goff has done in the past (and is currently trying to get us to try for ourselves) in writing the Haiku on a hanging scroll, thereby keeping the traditional tokonoma style intact.

Those who get his Bonsai Review online newsletter will have seen his recent article which he also very kindly gave me permission to use in the British Shohin Association newsletter. If I can get his permission, I will post the picture from the article on here.

Of course, as Paul says, it doesn't need to be a Haiku. I am considering using some Robert Burns lines in a similar manner.


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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Tom on Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:45 am

fiona wrote:
Of course, as Paul says, it doesn't need to be a Haiku. I am considering using some Robert Burns lines in a similar manner.

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous maple,
I wish ye were a big crab aipple.

Smile


I like the second tree pictured - is that some kind of succulent?

Tom

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Guest on Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:03 pm

That's very nice Ravi.

...here is my original:

I think I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth sweet flowing breast
bla,,,bla,,,

...just kidding Ravi.
I wish to see more of your poem and trees and some trees displayed by your fellow club members.

regards,
jun Smile



Hi Tom...
its succulent alright. that's Jade tree...right Ravi?

regards,
jun

Smile Smile

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Ravi Kiran on Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:24 pm

Hi Fiona,
thanks for your comments. I am glad to know that Paul Goff has taken similar initiative. Hope that he grants his nod so that you can share the same here on IBC. Haiku on scrolls is a great idea with a few riders. If the language is Japanese it would look great and blend into the tokonoma setting very well. The rider being that this Japanese Haiku scroll would be appreciated only by a Japanese speaking audience. Hence should a non Japanese language be used to depict a haiku (or a poem) on a scroll, then the local audience (whichever language they speak) would appreciate it better. This however would IMHO appear to be a cultural mis-mash and personally speaking not my cup of (green) tea... The alternative - especially (like in the case our our annual exhibition) where a tokonoma is not possible, simply displaying the haiku (or poem) next to the tree would do the job rather well.. Just my thoughts....


Tom,
The first tree is Thuja Orientalis or False Cypress and the second tree (as Jun has correctly guessed) is Jade or Portulacaria Afra. And yes the poem you shared is (like the cliche goes) short and sweet..

Jun,
Thanks for the poem... Sounds really nice... As regards my trees and poems these are the only two .... hope there will be more for the next exhibition... and as regards the trees of our local club.... shall send you an email with them...

Regards
Ravi

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  fiona on Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:39 pm

Ravi Kiran wrote: Hence should a non Japanese language be used to depict a haiku (or a poem) on a scroll, then the local audience (whichever language they speak) would appreciate it better. This however would IMHO appear to be a cultural mis-mash and personally speaking not my cup of (green) tea...

I actually don't see this as a cultural mishmash. There has been plenty written on here about the slavish following of everything Japanese as opposed to getting across one's own cultural identity.

I have never adhered to the notion that just because the Japanese do it that way must mean it's right or is the only way. But at the same time, as I have said many times, I do actually love the simplicity, beauty and tranquility of the traditional Japanese tokonoma display method. And that is what it is - a method. Adapt this method by using one's own local verse or scenes on the scroll and extend it further through using trees native to one's own environment, and I think we have the almost perfect adaptation. (I originally wrote compromise here but that is far from appropriate as a word)

It seems to me that the concept as above allows us to get across our own identity while, as Paul himself puts it, "doffing the cap" to the traditional display format.

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Ravi Kiran on Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:54 pm

Hi Fiona,
your point taken Very Happy There are many ways of approaching the art of display and what you say is one of them. Better to have tried differently than not to have tried at all..... Very Happy

Ravi

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  cosmos on Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:59 pm

We also do poems and sayings regarding bonsai in our annual exhibition and the general public just love them. But as you said they should be sparse.

This is an example.

There is more than meets the eye
when one looks at a bonsai.
There are spaces between branches
for the little birds to fly.

Cosmos

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Rob Kempinski on Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:13 pm

Ravi, I really like the idea and your poems work in that they are well written with a brevity that suites the mood. However, I find the paper with the poem to be not quite up to snuff with the quality of the tree. A more substantail presentation of the poem, either on a card stock, or laser etched panel or something would improve it (albeit add cost.) Yet don't stop there. I would suggest breaking from the Japanese mold and getting more creative. How about putting the poems in a program that viewer takes along with them through the exhibition. That makes the viewer even more involved in the tree as they read the poem when viewing the tree. Or, and how about adding another sense (hearing) to the display, something the Japanese don't do at all, by having the poems read either in a recording on a tape over a music system or at regular intervals by an actor/decent reader of poetry.

Music can also be a great accompanyment to a bonsai dispay and a good poetry reading similar.

Excellent concept though.


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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Rob Kempinski on Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:17 pm

jun wrote:That's very nice Ravi.

...here is my original:

I think I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth sweet flowing breast
bla,,,bla,,,

...just kidding Ravi.
jun Smile

I believe you owe Joyce Kilmer an apology and should give him credit. After all he had such a short life. Cool

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  JimLewis on Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:29 pm

FULL credit.

Ravi, Fiona, Rob . . . good ideas all of them. I think we need to collect all of our "display" threads and save them. Very useful for livening up the sometimes dullish bonsai show world.

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Guest on Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:39 pm

Rob Kempinski wrote:
jun wrote:That's very nice Ravi.

...here is my original:

I think I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth sweet flowing breast
bla,,,bla,,,

...just kidding Ravi.
jun Smile

I believe you owe Joyce Kilmer an apology and should give him credit. After all he had such a short life. Cool


I said I'm "just kidding"
everybody knows who wrote this poem even my grade two kid.

regards,
jun Smile

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A new dimension in bonsai display-a a new accompaniment

Post  sunip on Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:44 pm

Hy Ravi,
I like it, as you say as a accompaniment, as natural presence.
Not describing a tree but as a contemplation.
Key words, simplicity, meaningful, clear, deep, light.
It can give the bonsaist her- or himself, a new relation with the tree.
When it is displayed on a harmonious card it wont hurt the total.
However when it is displayed as a scroll there are a lot of things to consider in relation to the tree and the rest.
What pen, finger or els you use, should the field of characters look like a waving grassland
or a rock or like storm waves?
Should there be one major character, say for example an old pine trunk or young flowering tree,
and would the rest of the letters appear like pine needles or flowers?
Should the writing be like a landscape reflecting the tree, massif or very light?
What would be the character of the paper or els you use, what color?
And what sort of framework would be suitable?
Of course there is not only the tradition of China or Japan to be considered.
What about the Islamic writings and so on, they have al their own way of dealing with writing and division of a surface?
Lovely things to consider, it gives us at least some admiration for the long traditions dealing with this.
Maybe, apart of some gifted amongst us, we should rather ask the specialist to make a scroll
using our poem?
Regards, Sunip;)

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Guest on Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:48 pm

I think Bonsai and Poetry could work extremely well together. Music I am not so sure about. Music is very personal. I prefer library conditions.

I got it Jun.

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Guest on Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:58 pm

Ravi,
the other displays you sent me thru e-mail are very nice...if you could possibly ask permission from your club so that you can share it with others here in IBC I think it would be nice. I like the Dividivi.


regards,
jun Smile

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Guest on Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:25 pm

will baddeley wrote:I think Bonsai and Poetry could work extremely well together. Music I am not so sure about. Music is very personal. I prefer library conditions.

I got it Jun.

Thanks Will!
Some people are just tooo serious,,,even if you put the word "just kidding". Lighten up guys.

...with regards to music I like some natures sounds like the gentle sounds of water flowing in the river, or forest sounds with birds chirping that can be played in the display halls not individual music for each tree.

regards,
jun

Smile

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:29 pm

Ravi,

I like the idea, but not for an exhibition, poetry and actually studying a Bonsai, is more of an intimate situation. Bonsai Today on Literati, has a few photographs that explain it all perfectly.

Awakened, amidst illuminated decay,
warm earth, cold air.
Discarded jacket, nude pallid green to reach,
aspirations, dreams.

Too much effort goes into a tree/s to expect a genuine response at an exhibition.
Until.
Khaimraj


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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  stavros on Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:41 pm

fiona wrote:I think it is a great idea but my personal preference is for what Paul Goff has done in the past (and is currently trying to get us to try for ourselves) in writing the Haiku on a hanging scroll, thereby keeping the traditional tokonoma style intact.

Those who get his Bonsai Review online newsletter will have seen his recent article which he also very kindly gave me permission to use in the British Shohin Association newsletter. If I can get his permission, I will post the picture from the article on here.

Of course, as Paul says, it doesn't need to be a Haiku. I am considering using some Robert Burns lines in a similar manner.


Hi Fiona, let's hope that you will be granted permission to upload a picture. It sounds very interesting!!
A bonsai display to think about!

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  fiona on Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:44 pm

I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure what you mean in your post, Khaimraj. Are you suggesting that people are only ever going to study the tree in an exhibition display and won't pay any attention to the things that accompany it?

If so, then I'd wonder why we bother with scroll and accent plant either for that matter? If that wasn't what you meant, perhaps you could explain further, especially for those of us who don't have access to the Bonsai Today article you mention.

Cheers


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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  mike page on Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:13 pm

Ravi
My friend, the late Bobbi Burr was expert in calligraphy. She would write my haiku on a shikishi card to install in a scroll and display with the bonsai.
I was eshibiting a large bonsai and composed a haiku for it. Bobbi wrote it on the scroll card.
Image below.






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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:14 pm

Fiona,

in the Bonsai Today article on Literati, you see a group of folk who are very much into Bonsai, and they are enjoying a discussion about a bonsai as a group of friends / and folk learning from a master. They are kneeling and it is a quiet situation, cups of tea being shared.

I doubt public exhibitions reach this level of appreciation.

Unfortunately, I am also one of those who believe the exhibition is just the tree, not the pot, not the tables, not the scrolls or the accent plants.
Since I spend so much time on the tree, like an oil painting, I want the attention focused on the tree, not the frame or music.

However, if a small group comes over for a quiet, more intimate visit, I believe the tokonoma [ the works ] is the best situation.
So poetry, music, tables, accent plants are for more serious contemplation, but I can also get off on a good tree and nothing else for hours.

Once again, I treat my trees, with same level of work as my oil paintings, and since I only complete one or two paintings a year, I also like to take my time with my trees.
[ It is probably because I started so young, passing time has no meaning.]
Stay Well.
Khaimraj


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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  fiona on Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:43 pm

I can see where you're coming from a bit better now thanks, Khaimraj. But IMVHO I find what you are saying sadly unaspirational. Not the issue of single tree vs "full works" tokonoma display - that I would agree is very much a choice for the individual artists to make. But I think that to say that public exhibitions don't reach this level raises questions. First, are our exhibitions truly "public"ones? In my experience the bulk of attendees at major shows are already bonsai aficionados who are looking for some sort of further education on such aspects of display. This is of course not to suggest that we keep the great unwashed away from our exhibitions - far from it and I personally believe that our educating role stretches further than just the bonsai converted. But I'd rather we gave them a good show rather than just pandering to the popular impression of bonsai - i.e. cheap mallsai and/or sticks in pots. To do otherwise would be akin to saying that we won't show your no doubt good original oil paintings in an art exhibition but instead give the public cheap copies of Whistler's Mother and the Mona Lisa.

Don't get me wrong, I fully appreciate the importance - dominance even - of the tree, and I can see why you can sit for hours in contemplation of that. But I, as I have said, like the broader display and the very informative thread of Hans Vleugels is adding to my appreciation of this.

To each his or her own I suppose. But if we are only going to look at solo trees then I'm afraid I just cannot agree with you that the pot is unimportant.

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  mike page on Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:58 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Fiona,


Unfortunately, I am also one of those who believe the exhibition is just the tree, not the pot, not the tables, not the scrolls or the accent plants.

Khaimraj


In Japanese, "bon" is a pot or tray that can be planted in. "Bonsai" can be translated as "in a pot", or something to that effect. So, if the tree is not in a proper container, it isn't bonsai.
If you take your bonsai out of it's bonsai container and plant it in the ground, it is no longer bonsai.
We should never underestimate the value of the pot and tree combination in creating the proper bonsai image.



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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:03 pm

Mike,

I will be brief as this is off-topic.
My stand on pots is very simple. As a frame is to a painting, so a pot is to a tree. If you see the frame instead of the painting...............
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: A New Dimension in Bonsai Display - A new accompaniment

Post  Guest on Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:33 am

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Mike,

I will be brief as this is off-topic.
My stand on pots is very simple. As a frame is to a painting, so a pot is to a tree. If you see the frame instead of the painting...............
Later.
Khaimraj


I agree.
but I'm not saying that pot is not important, it should be an integral part of the "bonsai"...but in some (most) cases, people tend to give more importance to the pot or arrangement of the display together with the accessories (accent) rather than the tree. when I see displays like this giving more importance lets say with the nice stand or pot, the tree becomes the accent because the real accent is prettier than the subject.
...or as Khaimraj puts it. the frame is prettier than the painting.
...just thinking, is it because it is much easier to learn how to display nicely and buy nice pots easily rather than learn how to create good tree. if that's the case bonsaist will tend to learn more on how to display rather than to learn on how to create unique and beautiful trees.

regards,
jun
Smile

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