The Future for Shohin?

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  Guest on Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:58 am

I know experience that there are no Shohin prizes at this big event, and will like to raise the question why it might be so?
I am wondering because I thought that Shohin-bonsai was settled so well especially in Northern Europe today, that it should be a natural part of every important bonsai exhibition. Therefore a Shohin award should be a natural part of this event, to encourage enthusiasts to bring their best to the show. I personally fear that discouraging is likely to be the effect of not taking Shohin-bonsai serious, as it might be perceived among the large group of enthusiastic Shohin enthusiasts, and how I personally feel.

Shohin-bonsai has a very special atmosphere and demands great skills not only styling and growing these small bonsai, but also arranging the displays and expressing the time of year i.e. It demands very delicate skills and aesthetic awareness in every aspect of the art.

I know that it might not be a question answered but I think it is necessary to bring up the awareness of the problem that Shohin still seems like not really accepted in all events and exhibitions throughout Europe.
I hope for a stronger position regarding Shohin in future planning of exhibitions of importance, like I feel Noelanders Trophy is.

Best regards
Morten Albek

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Noelanders Trophyx111

Post  Bob Bailey on Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:47 am

I totally endorse every thing Morten says,Shohin/Mame are the fastest growing aspects of bonsai at the present time both here in Europe and Japan and to omit from any exhibition or competition is ,I think a big mistake.
At the Swindon Society we have recognised this popularity and at our next Winter Image Show in 2012 we in conjunction with The British Shohin Association will be holding a Shohin/Mame Display section as part of the main show. Entries open to BSA members and non members alike.

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  landerloos on Fri Aug 05, 2011 10:52 pm

Hi Morten,

the prizes are different every year, one year kifu the next perhaps shohin and so on...
Shohin is recognized at the Noelanders, altough they some times get over seen because of the vast majority of very big and high quality trees.
I guess we will see you there.

Peter

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  Guest on Sat Aug 06, 2011 8:31 am

Yes Peter

You are right...we are talking about the "Special Prize", who is going to the best kifu this year.

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  Guest on Sat Aug 06, 2011 10:00 am

landerloos wrote:Hi Morten,

the prizes are different every year, one year kifu the next perhaps shohin and so on...
Shohin is recognized at the Noelanders, altough they some times get over seen because of the vast majority of very big and high quality trees.
I guess we will see you there.

Peter

Hi Peter

Yes, that's for the special prices. But bonsai do get a prize every year. I miss an every year prize for Shohin, recognizing its value equal with traditional bigger bonsai.
Not giving prizes for a Shohin category keeps people with all their time put into Shohin from coming. Therefore I most likely will not go, because I know very few will show their Shohin there when no prizes are given (and then they get overseen among huge trees). So there is not much to come for then if you have your interest in Shohin and Shohin is neglected. I will most likely wait for a better occasion.

Regards
Morten

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  landerloos on Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:37 pm

Hi Morten,

every year the best shohin gets awarded, but every year the main focus changes to a different size.
So you can compete and win shohin prize next edition also.

I hope this clear things up for everybody, and the Noelanders trophy is and will be one of the main events in europe in many years to come, and is worth while taking the trip contesting or not.
The event hase a special feel towards the public, almost all I talked with that hase visit the Trophy agrees that you feel at home, some shows miss that.

You can always ask me for more info Morten.

Kind regards
Peter

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  Hans Vleugels on Sat Aug 06, 2011 4:27 pm

I think it is nonsense to suggest shohin bonsai is neglected in our region. It just is the format of the Noelanders trophy to give a nomination to the best shohin presentation every two years. The other year there is a special prize for a Kifu bonsai. Nothing wrong with that, because Kifu bonsai is also a very nice category. Now of course it would be nice to have a nomination for each category of trees every year. Mame, shohin, Kifu, Large, very large, etc... You could even seperate Japanese imported trees from European trees, yamadori and self-made trees. But this just is the format of this show. You can also win a nomination with a shohin presentation thi syear. Shohin are surely not forbidden this year. If it is selected as best in show by the judges, then it even can win the first prize. But if you want to win the first prize or a nomination in the shohin category, then you just will have to wait one more year...





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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  fiona on Sat Aug 06, 2011 5:38 pm

This is really just my two centimes worth here and it is not knocking anyone else's opinion or feelings on the matter which I accept they are entitled to hold. Hans and Peter will keep me right here but is it not the case that you have to have your tree(s) accepted for the Noelanders Trophy and that only the best are selected? If so, then the very fact that your tree(s) are there in the first place gives enormous recognition and kudos to the owners, and places those trees among the top in Europe. I'm just at the beginning of my "shohin career" but that would seem rather a good result to me.

I'm certainly not going to say that people who want to win prizes are wrong but my personal opinion (perhaps ironically as I am one of the most competitive people you could meet in other areas of life) is that bonsai exhibitions are for showing quality trees and thereby pushing the bar of quality ever upwards.

As I say, just my opinion.

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  landerloos on Sun Aug 07, 2011 8:22 am

fiona wrote:This is really just my two centimes worth here and it is not knocking anyone else's opinion or feelings on the matter which I accept they are entitled to hold. Hans and Peter will keep me right here but is it not the case that you have to have your tree(s) accepted for the Noelanders Trophy and that only the best are selected? If so, then the very fact that your tree(s) are there in the first place gives enormous recognition and kudos to the owners, and places those trees among the top in Europe. I'm just at the beginning of my "shohin career" but that would seem rather a good result to me.

I'm certainly not going to say that people who want to win prizes are wrong but my personal opinion (perhaps ironically as I am one of the most competitive people you could meet in other areas of life) is that bonsai exhibitions are for showing quality trees and thereby pushing the bar of quality ever upwards.

As I say, just my opinion.

Yes Fi,
the trees have to be selected , and of course its an honour if accepted.

Peter

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The Future for Shohin?

Post  Guest on Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:17 pm

Hans Vleugels wrote:I think it is nonsense to suggest shohin bonsai is neglected in our region. It just is the format of the Noelanders trophy to give a nomination to the best shohin presentation every two years. The other year there is a special prize for a Kifu bonsai. Nothing wrong with that, because Kifu bonsai is also a very nice category. Now of course it would be nice to have a nomination for each category of trees every year. Mame, shohin, Kifu, Large, very large, etc... You could even seperate Japanese imported trees from European trees, yamadori and self-made trees. But this just is the format of this show. You can also win a nomination with a shohin presentation thi syear. Shohin are surely not forbidden this year. If it is selected as best in show by the judges, then it even can win the first prize. But if you want to win the first prize or a nomination in the shohin category, then you just will have to wait one more year...

Dear Hans

Please do not misunderstand my point, although you might not agree with my view on this.
I think there are two dominating categories of bonsai art, and that is bonsai and shohin-bonsai.
I am not implying that there should be a award for all other kind of categories. That is not my attention at all.

Personally I really do not exhibit for prizes to be received. I do it for the joy of it solely. There also are people out there having better collections than me, and I would love to exhibit among those.
I just happen to know that many others do attend exhibitions when prizes are given, because that is also a reason to make the hard work and effort to participate. So my point still is that more will attend this show with shohin displays if an award is given for this category, and I think this is natural to do so.

It seems to be the same in Japan. Shohin enthusiasts do not attend the Kokofu-ten in strong numbers because there are not prize for the best shohin-display, but it can be chosen among the overall exhibited trees - as I understand it is at next years Noelanders trophy. Therefore they go to Gafu-ten instead (the major Shohin-exhibition in Japan).

Main issue is that bonsai and shohin-bonsai are so very different in nearly all aspects of the art, both by the approach, display and aesthetically, so competing against each other is very difficult and has little value I think. They are not to compare directly, and therefore it could be a natural choice to have two prizes. I fully accept that Noelanders do differently, but a fair and honest opinion and discussion do not harm any of us I hope.

My view is that Noelanders Trophy has become is a very important exhibition in Europe today, and I just hope to push in the direction of getting Shohin-bonsai up on a higher recognition at a place like this, and getting more people involved. Having a bonsai and a shohin-bonsai award every year would be very beneficial seen from my chair.

I do think shohin is not yet recognized fully all over Europe, and as long as we have no European Shohin association, we who love shohin sometimes misses the platforms to show our work I believe. I may be wrong, but that's what I think. The BSA in the UK has done a fantastic job, now we may need a European shohin association too?

Best regards
Morten







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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  Hans Vleugels on Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:52 pm

Thanks for splitting this up in a new topic Fiona, good idea...

I think the idea of Morten is okay, but I always have had the feeling when it comes to national associations, much depends on politics and money. Two things that can make things realy messy. Nobody wants to lose money in organizing something which will only cost money, and causes people to get nasty. If you want a European Shohin Association Morten, you will definetely need a certain amount of people with a lot of goodwill. If I understand it correct, you will also need associations for each country. (or as much countries as possible) How many countries in Europe have a shohin association? In Japan you have the All Japan Shohin-Bonsai Association, and in America (If I am not wrong) there is an American Shohin Bonsai Association. But here in Europe, officialy I only know of the Britisch Shohin Association. Is there something else what I missed? Let me know...

Let's compare it to the European Bonsai Association. (I dont know what happened with the Ebabonsai.com website, but it isn't online for the moment. I can only access http://european-bonsai-convention.eu which represents the convention in Ratingen in Germany. Each year they organize a new talent contest, and on a yearly base there is an European Bonsai Convention in a guest country. So each country has a national organization, and some regional clubs are member of this organization. Such organizations work by the payments of yearly contributions by the club-members. I don't know if there any other things which could make money for such an organization, but you will defenitely need money to organize exhibitions and conventions. If it's organized by people who know what they are doing, maybe it is possible, but it sure isn't easy.

Maybe the existing national associations should pay more attention to the shohin part of bonsai?


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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  fiona on Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:49 pm

Hans Vleugels wrote: I always have had the feeling when it comes to national associations, much depends on politics and money. Two things that can make things realy messy.
How true is that!

Hans Vleugels wrote: Maybe the existing national associations should pay more attention to the shohin part of bonsai?
IMHO this is really the nub of what Morten is saying. I think we are fairly agreed that Shohin and "bonsai" both require an immense amount of skill and artistry if you are to create a top quality tree, and there is an argument that even more skill is needed to create the detail on the smaller tree. Perhaps a better word there would be "finesse" rather than skill.

My own feeling is that there is a mind-set in Bonsai circles that has invented a "hierarchy" where none should exist. How often does a deciduous/broadleaf tree win a major award - and I am thinking of the mutterings that occurred when a maple won a major European award a few years back? Is this because the hierarchy has set up a situation where conifers somehow trump everything else? And if you have a conifer with extensive carving then you are put right up at the top of the tree, as it were. Shohin currently languishes near the bottom of this self-imposed hierarchy, and if we are to get to a point where all trees compete against each other fairly, then we need to change the mind-set. The funny thing about it is that this almost mirrors a situation we have regarding the general public (ie non-bonsai public) perception of bonsai. Just look at the "public vote" at most shows: it doesn't matter how bad a bonsai a tree is, if it has flowers it tops the list, followed by the nice-coloured foliage ones like red maples. Look how we all sneer at that approach, calling it ill-informed and such like?

So why has the "hierarchy" come about? Are we just all very sizeist? Are we bowled over by the macho roughtie toughtie carving stuff? And if this is the case what as Shohin lovers do we do to challenge it? Both Morten hinself and the BSA have done well so far to raise the awareness of shohin and to push the bar of quality. As Bob points out, more enlightened clubs like Swindon are now incorporating Shohin sections where the trees have their own award in the short term but can also compete against the larger bonsai. This is where we start and over time I would like to think that more and more recognition will be given to the smaller bonsai forms.

But we have to be there, and I'm glad we are all agreed that saying "I'll not get a prize so I'm not going" is not the way to proceed. As the trite saying is over here: we have to be in it to win it.


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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  fiona on Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:59 pm

As a bit of an aside, I would have to add that one of the things that attracts me so much to Shohin is precisely because Broadleaf/Deciduous and conifers can compete on a level playing field - both have a high skill level and both have aspects that attract. I think that this is now beginning to be recognised with the uptake of bonsai shows occurring when deciduous trees are at their best (Swindon again are pioneers).


The other aside is that as well as trying to persuade of the merits of top-quality shohin, we need also to be challenging the other end of the spectrum whereby many local club hobbyists see shohin as merely young trees, often no more than seedlings, stuck in tiny pots. But maybe that's just me being a snob. Surprised

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  jrodriguez on Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:01 pm

Morten,

I understand your reasoning behind the exclusion/inclusion of shohin bonsai from mayor shows. As you know, this is a reality in many parts of the world. Perhaps, you should consider this a blessing in disguise and motivate yourself to organize a European Shohin Bonsai Symposium. Clearly, and judging by the varied responses in this thread, there is a need for such a gathering. I am sure that the individual organizations will help you. In the shohin bonsai circles, you are truly considered an authority. Just food for thought......

Kind regards,

Jose Luis

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  marcus watts on Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:07 pm

[quote="morten albek]
Main issue is that bonsai and shohin-bonsai are so very different in nearly all aspects of the art, both by the approach, display and aesthetically, so competing against each other is very difficult and has little value I think. They are not to compare directly, and therefore it could be a natural choice to have two prizes.[/quote]

Going by what you say the Shohin trees should never be at exhibitions like this then, but at a dedicated show where they 'compete' on an equal level, not the natural choice to have 2 prizes, but a natural choice to have 2 shows.

this would solve any issue of the little trees lost among the large ones, and an equal judging criteria would finally be possible. It is easy to see the huge increase in popularity AND PRICE!! of shohin sized trees the last few years and maybe Morten it is time for a true enthusiast of this one aspect of the bonsai hobby to organise an important european show....?


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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  fiona on Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:29 pm

My worry in that - nice idea as it is - would be that the art/craft/hobby of Bonsai already has a relatively small following in Europe and to dilute the pool even further would probably not work and may in fact be counter-productive. A shohin "event" would need to piggy-back on another event - part of the main show but with a degree of separateness. This would give it some identity of its own while reminding the bonsai world (and itself) that shohin is and should always be part of the main art form.

I've just noticed that this year's European Bonsai Convention is featuring the European Suiseki Association. Seems like "partnerships" are already in place. Food for thought.

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  JimLewis on Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:57 pm

Often - or at least some times -- shohin are awarded prized by display -- a grouping of small trees are judged.

It's hard to even see a single shohin in shows that are most two-man trees.

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  Guest on Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:41 pm

JimLewis wrote:Often - or at least some times -- shohin are awarded prized by display -- a grouping of small trees are judged.
It's hard to even see a single shohin in shows that are most two-man trees.

Well Jim, that's one issue among others that still keep coming up. Shohin should always be judged as the whole display, not as individual trees.
I have a whole section on my website dedicated to explain this e.g., because the culture of shohin is so different. Look here if interested.
http://www.shohin-europe.com/ZEKIKAZARI-english/index.htm

I've just noticed that this year's European Bonsai Convention is featuring the European Suiseki Association. Seems like "partnerships" are already in place. Food for thought.
Yes Fiona. And that was why I originally started this subject, because I wanted bigger already established exhibitions to take shohin seriously and on the programme as intended.

Establishing an European association for Shohin may be difficult because of the limited resources (human and funds) as pointed out, but maybe an interest will be in forming a group/association working together for the development and corporation with other associations e.g. - may be a solution like the European Suiseki Association seems to manage it? An open question.

Will there be enough qualified and engaged people to take this challenge then?

I have full support from the right spot in Japan if this should ever be a possibility just to mention it.

Regards, Morten.

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  landerloos on Sun Aug 07, 2011 5:32 pm

I really cant see the problem, one can have a show with all sizes tending.
Shohin at the Noelanders usually get a spot for them selfes, I dont think a european shohin association is the answer, for reasons Fiona already explained.
You have to ask your self, how many bonsai enthusiasts only have shohin on there tables/stands???

Kind regards

Peter

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  fiona on Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:02 pm

landerloos wrote: You have to ask your self, how many bonsai enthusiasts only have shohin on their tables/stands?
Now that would be a question worth asking and a forum like this is the ideal start point for such a piece of research. I'm of a mind to start a poll to that effect. It may not be flawless evidence but it would at least provide an overview. Watch the relevant space. Very Happy

My gut feeling is that there may be more than one might think. Bob B will tell you that his only interest is Mame and I have heard others comment on here that they now favour Shohin/Mame because they can no longer transport the larger trees to events or even about their own gardens.

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  marcus watts on Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:00 pm

the piggyback event is the way to offer a logistical possibility- same building, a two room event, connecting doors etc, but seperate judges skilled in the task at hand so the two diciplines are given the correct criteria they deserve. then the shohin enthusiasts have a specific chance to exhibit and compete on an equal, as do the owners of larger trees.

i can see where the following poll came from but the question could be who has a shohin they consider of show standard, who has large trees of show standard and who has both....this is the key point when trying to decide if the following is there for a dedicated shohin section to an event.

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  fiona on Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:27 pm

Good points, Marcus, and to an extent the BSA is raising its profile by that very piggy-backing.

Re the poll: as I said it is only a basic attempt at gauging the level of shohin out there as the poll facility on here is not sophisticated enough to do much more. Also we are already aware that there are some truly great shohin and mame (in Europe at least) so to an extent I'm really trying to gauge a general interest level beyond that at this point.

I do however like your idea so I may do a follow-up on who thinks their trees are show-standard. The response to that will similarly be interesting as some folk think their trees are not up to much when they quite clearly are, while others have very inflated ideas of trees that are clearly not show standard. That's one of the joys (and perils) of organising these events and one which can lead to huffs and miffs. Just like Hans said away back at the start of the thread. Wink

Such is life.

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  marcus watts on Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:45 pm

haha, yes i know exactly what you mean about huffing and puffing regarding trees, shows and their owners!!!

As you say its just part of life and the pit falls of organising a show, or even just an exhibit in a show!

Were you by any chance at the last bsa meeting at willowbog? i was on a shopping visit that day (from Cornwall)!! and popped my head round the door at lunch time - after relieving peter of ther lovely deshojo.

cheers Marcus.

personally i think the uk is very well placed to hold a very creditable shohin show - the stronghold of trees and enthusiasts in the north, mark and ritas collection plus the many secret squirrels and dark horses tucked away would do us proud. Progression within the hobby I think starts with a nation gripped by bonsai in general, then they want really big ones, then eventually they want finesse and gravitate to little ones - I see the bulk of mainland Europe wanting big chunks of wood from their plentiful mountains atm - (not always good bonsai material, but just big) and the appreciation for the smaller trees, the different skills needed (not imo more or less skill) will follow in time

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  Rob Kempinski on Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:38 am

Most of the discussion has had a European flavor so far. In the USA shohin are indeed quite popular and are welcome at all shows. And there are at least several shohin-only shows held at various locations around the USA. Bill Valvanis has one, the California society has one, and I believe the St Louis Society has one. They appear to be held every other year. There may be others that I am not aware of. Other general shows normally recognize the best shohin tree or display too.

Personally I love shohin trees and aim to acquire more and more. They really have so much going for them.

BTW What's a "kifu" tree?

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

Post  Hans Vleugels on Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:30 am

Rob Kempinski wrote:BTW What's a "kifu" tree?
Rob,

Kifu bonsai are trees between 21 and 35 cm. It's just a term like 'shohin' is...

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Re: The Future for Shohin?

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