Display Stands

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Display Stands

Post  Peter Thorne on Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:58 am

Hi Guys, can anyone point me to an explanation of the “rules” relating to the use of display tables?
Apart from raising the height of the tree to a more appropriate viewing angle, it seems to me that the hobby in general needs to pay a bit more attention to the size shape and colour of the tables used for displaying our bonsai.

Many of the major exhibitions offer prizes for the best tree and pot combination, and yet there is seldom any mention of the tables or plinths being used. We often talk about a bonsai display as a composition, in which all the elements combine to form an aesthetically pleasing, balanced and harmonious display. A quick look at the photographs of the displays at any of the major exhibitions will quickly demonstrate that some trees are displayed on tables which are to big, or to small; or are visually to heavy, or to light, for the trees placed upon them.

When describing the depth and shape of a pot, some people refer to the “visual weight” of the pot in relation the height of the tree and the thickness of the trunk. It seems to me that the “visual weight” of the table is an equally important part of the composition, and I presume that there must be some general guidance available on this topic. I am sure we have all looked at a bonsai display and instinctively felt that the composition was wrong for some reason, even if we couldn’t explain why. There are many treads on the forum in which people have suggested that the table / stand is inappropriate for the tree because it is to heavy or to light, or sometimes because the table top appears to be floating”, but I haven’t been able to find any guidance as to what is appropriate. Can anyone point me to a suitable website, that will explain what elements of the tables’ design we should be thinking about, when choosing the table to be used for displaying our trees?

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Re: Display Stands

Post  Kakejiku on Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:56 am

I will provide you a critique that my Sensei, Kuzuhara Hiroyuki, did of a display done for the Toko Kazari competition at Hanford CA. Hopefully, his critique and photoshop will give you a visual of how he selected the table....and provides some reference to your questions.
The first picture is the original display, and the second is the Sensei's photoshopped version of what he thinks a better table would be...My translation of what he wrote in Japanese is below.
This is a good example of a seki kazari display, however the table used is too high.
When using a thinner trunked, bunjin -like styled tree it is better to use a flat table (Heishoku or Heitaku not sure on the original words pronunciation) or a Jiita would be better suited. Also, this scroll's color is too dark, and it would be more serene/quiet if there was a beige or khaki color. The scroll is too strong, and takes the attention, thus the main piece takes a lesser precedence in the entire display, and in the future it is better to find a more light colored scroll, and a less powerful image for the scroll that takes a secondary stance and is not repetitive in the entire display.
(Disclosure: I made this scroll.)


Last edited by Kakejiku on Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:02 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Person Upset about the Picture Ued)

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Re: Display Stands

Post  Guest on Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:33 am

This is one of the areas of bonsai aesthetics that have no precise guidelines and certainly no rules to follow. The above example is how one teacher tells it to be, another one may choose different. Taste and the feeling of the display is what counts most, and then you will have a number of people (also highly respected with a long road of experience), that each and everyone may have different preferences and approaches.
Listen to the people you feel gives you the best insight and what suites your taste best.

In the fine examples shown I tend to disagree slightly regarding with the table issue. Only focusing on the tables and their role in the display, I do feel both works. The lower table gives the impression of a tree growing on a wide flat field with open space. The higher table that works as well regarding balance i.e., makes me think of a higher mountain environment.

Tables are much about visual weight and most be judged also having the overall display in mind, not solely looking at the bonsai according to the table.

Finally; there are no precise guidelines to give. There are a whole lot of answers in all kind of directions, depending on the tradition, the artist and the feeling of the display.

Best regards
Morten Albek

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Re: Display Stands

Post  marcus watts on Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:10 am

i think it is good that there are no hard and fast rules otherwise it all gets too standardised.

in the picture examples above a stone is displayed with a tree - there are other teachers and judges that say this is absolutely wrong and that a stone is a display item in its own right and should never accompany a bonsai. Personally the most distracting part of the display in the picture is the dark wood in the background - it clashes with both stands so their detail is lost.

the artist setting the display has a few considerations to initially make- what stands do they actually own or are able to borrow will be at the top of the list for all but the richest. Then the style of the tree and the scene that the display is trying to show comes into play - wide open space, rugged mountain, river valley etc. Physical mechanics come into it too - a tree weighing 10's of kilos mustn't crush a delicate stand .....

the one rule that does work is the appearance of stability - but the tree must be in the right pot before either can be put on the right stand i think. As a starting point I try to have a practice at home, take a picture or two, even post it on here and very soon you will get peoples opinion Laughing

nice topic,

marcus

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Re: Display Stands

Post  Guest on Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:53 am

Hi Peter

A quik answer is not possible here, it is about small things, who matters.
My best idea is, if you show us two or tree displays with the stands you have, and the one tree you have in mind....this way more opinions will come up.

Kind regards yvonne....remember to ad a sideplant, stone or figurine

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Re: Display Stands

Post  fiona on Wed Nov 30, 2011 11:34 am

add to this the tendency to slavishly copy what the Japanese are doing - or to be more precise what we think the Japanese are doing. I'm looking at the photos from Japanese exhibitions and am not noticing much in the way of table-tree-scroll-accent set-ups. There is a danger is assuming that because one exhibit features these elements, then they must all do so.

You and I have seen the worst of displays in Scotland with trees just plonked down on an exhibition bench any old how with nothing underneath it. I am in no doubt whatsoever that this does not bring out the best in the tree, and you yourself are to be commended for trying to make a difference at Ayr Flower Show by using tables, slabs etc. - just as happens at all the UK "majors" now - BoBB, Joy of Bonsai etc.

I personally subscribe to Morten's idea of a "harmonious whole" and if slab or burr is better than a table to achieve this, then that for me is the right call. Sticking a tree on an inappropriate table is as bad as plonking it on a bit of wrinkled tablecloth. I tend to spend hours working out the correct combinations, but am also at the mercy of, as Marcus points out, having to make do with what I've got or can borrow.

In general terms I adopt an approach of if it's a highly stylised "Japanesey" tree, I'd tend to use a table as I feel it suits the formality, but if it's a more naturalistic (often British native) tree, I'd tend to use something that reflects the naturalness like a burr or a slab such as Welsh slate. Not a hard and fast rule though.


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Re: Display Stands

Post  Guest on Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:35 pm

I will try to make this answer a little short...
This is how I do it ( ca.) Smile

If the pot owerpowers the tree, is it not good, and the pot needs to be more simple and probably lighter.
If the stand owerpowers the tree and the pot, it needs to be more simple, and lighter, and maybe lower.

If the pot and stand is much darker than the trunk, must the crown of the tree be big/strong, for not to be owerpowered.

Before I go to an exhibition, I ask my husband, when he is walking by, buzzy doing something else" Wich part do you see first" and if he say the table...I know something is wrong.

Much more can be said abut this......

Kind regards Yvonne

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Re: Display Stands

Post  dick benbow on Wed Nov 30, 2011 2:19 pm

Peter, first of all, I want to thank you for opening up this topic for others to have an opportunity to share what they know.

Display is probably my most favorite subject, yet the hardest to pin down. Even within the two teachers I have, there is frequent disagreement.

I have found stands to be like pots, doesn't matter how many you have you never seem to have the right one for the tree Smile

before i could comment on the examples shown, I'd really want to know what the scroll said to give guildance to how the tree and stand fit with it as well as the suiseki.

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Re: Display Stands

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:18 pm

Some photos from a recent trip to Japan.
First, stands on hand at a Japanese Bonsai nursery for use in displays and then a few shots of displays at the same nursery.




This is the nursery of Mr. Kobayashi near Tokyo Disneyland,
Take the kids/grandkids to Disneyland and you can visit this nursery for a side trip.

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Re: Display Stands

Post  gman on Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:12 pm

Hello there,
Here is a post on this topic, from another popular forum that could help answer your question or at least provide another opinion.

http://bonsainut.com/forums/showthread.php?6639-A-Primer-on-Bonsai-Display
Cheers G

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Re: Display Stands

Post  Kakejiku on Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:48 pm

dick benbow wrote:before i could comment on the examples shown, I'd really want to know what the scroll said to give guildance to how the tree and stand fit with it as well as the suiseki.

花鳥風月 Kachoufuugetsu Ka (Flower) Chou (Bird) Fuu (Wind) Getsu (Moon) - A four character ideogram for the beauty of nature...

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Re: Display Stands

Post  dick benbow on Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:39 am

thank-you Jonathan Very Happy

Your explaination, really helps to open up and simplify the display.

In the photos to follow with scrolls deplicting seasons, It makes things a little tougher as to which grasps the situation better. for example the scroll with the moon and clouds has a very fall stormy feel to me. While the red sun and pine makes us think of gentle summer. I realize that these are photographs of a prestegious institution in Japan, but i have been taught you never display a scroll or figurine of a Tancho craine till winter and then a little on the late side when these beautiful birds are mating and performing their graceful courtship dances.

Hope this doesn't turn into a he said, she said but I've noticed quite often it can get into quite various opinions
of what works and what doesn't. It's one of the reasons recently that I dropped one of my two teachers as it was too confusing to keep it straight who said what! affraid

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Re: Display Stands

Post  Peter Thorne on Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:13 am

Guys, All of your contributions are much appriciated, and your responses have encouraged me to give the matter much more thought.
Whilst I accept that the interpretation of any composition, what we like or dislike, is a matter of personal taste, I do think that there should be a number of broad principles or guidelines that we should adhere to. However, it also seems to me, that the guidelines will be different for each style and size of tree. Those relevant to a cascade, or a shohin, would obviously be different from those that apply to a heavy trunked Trident Maple or Pine.

The majority of my trees are in the informal upright style about 60cm high, and so I have concentrated on how I would prefer to display this style of tree. Other people may like to suggest some guidelines for other styles or sizes of tree.

I prefer to see trees of this size and style, exhibited on tables that appear to have a connection with or are “growing” out of the display bench. Creating a pyrimid shape with a series of steps between the bench, the table, the pot, and the Nebari all rising up to support the trunk of the tree, works for me. Using a slab or a wooden plinth works well, but if you choose to use a table, the visual weight of the table is the key to creating a harmonious display. Square tables seem to work better with round pots; rectangular tables with rectangular or oval pots.

The width of the table relative to the size of the pot is also important. Having a clear area between both sides of the pot and the sides of the table helps to balance the image. Somewhere between 1.5 to 2 times the dept of the pot seems to work well.

Other important issues are the depth of the top, the depth of the apron, and the detail at the edge of the table. These all have to be considered together, as they make a significant contribution to the visual weight of the table.

Having an overhanging edge and a shallow apron creates a visual seperation between the legs and the pot and gives the impression that the tree is “floating”. I find this disturbing. For this size and style of tree, a large overhang should be avoided. As I mentioned having a series of steps works better.

The amount of detail on the apron is important as the purpose of the table is to support and help frame the tree, It is a part of the overall image, not the focal point. In my opinion a simple, understated apron, with clean simple lines is best. Complicated, ornate and fussy detailing should be avoided.

The table should have ample legs or feet to carry both the physical and visual weight of the tree being displayed. However, the design and shape of the legs; whether they turn in or out, is a matter of personal choice. I prefer having legs that turn out and project beyond the overhang, as they give the impression of having enough strength to support the physical and visual weight of the pot and the tree. Having legs which turn in, creates the impression of an inverted pyrimid, which I think looks unstable. Having a flush edge reduces the impression of instability, but personally I think that all tables with inward turning legs look disturbing.

I should stress that all of the elements refered to, must be considered together and not in isolation. Creating a hamonious, balanced image, is a matter of presonal taste, but I think that having some generally accepted “guidelines” would help us all improve the quality of our displays.

What do you think? Your comments would be much appriciated.

Is anyone else prepared to stick their neck out and suggest some guidelines for displaying another size or style of tree?
Regards
Peter Thorne

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Re: Display Stands

Post  dick benbow on Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:06 pm

Hi Peter,
Well it looks like no one is willing to stick their neck out... Very Happy but there are opportunities for you to learn along the way. One of my favorite you tube videos ( it has three parts) is a show judged by American Ryan Neil, Who studied in Japan for 6 years under the tutiledge of Kimura. I've been to several of his workshops and he's amazing.
So......take some time here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJq4PWe6jQo

I think this will help you along and give you some encouragement in your effort to learn Exclamation


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Re: Display Stands

Post  Guest on Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:28 pm

Hi Peter

You seem to my surprice, to have really trong oppinions after all.....

Many things can be said...and I like many ways, trees are being displayed...but most of the times, I deslike the trinity you prefer....To let the tree and pot "grow" out of the stand does not work for me.

I like the tree to be the bonsai it is, a" tree in a pot".... placed on a stand, and I prefer the stand to be almost twice the lengd of the pot.

A short answer, I would like to say more, but my written inglish is not good, sorry.

Kind regards Yvonne




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Re: Display Stands

Post  Kakejiku on Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:29 am

Peter Thorne wrote:
Is anyone else prepared to stick their neck out and suggest some guidelines for displaying another size or style of tree?
Regards
Peter Thorne

I will give another example of Kuzuhara Sensei's critiques. He is a Shihan Rank in Gadou Display. Here is his website if you would like to visit it...http://www.ict.ne.jp/~ikkouan/gadouindex.htm#gadouindex

The critique of this display.
This Shohin bonsai display when looking at a first glance seems to acheive unity among all the elemnts, but there are a few points of mistake in the rules of display.
First off, when displaying a Kengan or Hankengan as the main tree, it is good to use the tall table placed on top of this type of large jiita. However, this tree, with its thin trunk and styling would be considered more of a bunjin styling, and in this case it would be better to not use the table and place the bonsai directly on the jiita. Also, when using this type of large jiita it is a common rule if you are using an accent piece to place the accent in the upper right corner behind the tree.
The second point is that the height of this kusamono is too high.
The third point is that the picture in the scroll works well for this display, but for such a small (shohin size and thin trunk) tree, the scroll is much too big. I have made changes to the display to show how I think this would be an improved display. Please look at the two pictures. For the revision, I have used a Kuzuya, which is the way houses in olden times looked in Japan with the thatched grass roofs.
Sensei's Recommendations

I think his explanations are pretty clear...


Last edited by Kakejiku on Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:03 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Someone Upset over use of Original Pictures)

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Re: Display Stands

Post  dick benbow on Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:50 am

I think one of the things that is important in display for understanding as students, is where is the eye of the viewer. Are they sitting on the floor looking at a tokonoma, or are they standing with the display on a display table, up off the floor. this would help to grasp why a taller table might be used or not. Also if a smaller tree
was displayed in a line of taller more dominant bonsai, elevating the smaller tree would allow it to compete with the dominant visual mass of it's neighbors.

I'm glad jonathan shared the japanese site, now if he could only teach me how to read it Smile

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Re: Display Stands

Post  Guest on Thu Dec 08, 2011 6:14 am

dick benbow wrote:I think one of the things that is important in display for understanding as students, is where is the eye of the viewer. Are they sitting on the floor looking at a tokonoma, or are they standing with the display on a display table, up off the floor. this would help to grasp why a taller table might be used or not. Also if a smaller tree
was displayed in a line of taller more dominant bonsai, elevating the smaller tree would allow it to compete with the dominant visual mass of it's neighbors.

I'm glad jonathan shared the japanese site, now if he could only teach me how to read it Smile

Hi Dick

A few comments from me. It´s merely about the tree and its presentation, not taking into account the height of a tall or small person, sitting or standing. The person who views must adapt the display, sit, stand or bow to watch it properly.
The balance between smaller or larger trees can to some extend be offset by using a slightly higher stand for the smaller tree (Shohin displays), but it is more about the presentation and balance one must sense when setting up the display. Different teachers may teach different, but the aesthetic approach and the feeling of the display and its performance matters highly.

Best regards
Morten Albek

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Re: Display Stands

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:43 am

At the ASPAC in Takamatsu none of the trees were displayed at "eye level." The display in the main conference building had the trees displayed at a fairly uniform height of about two feet. In a second display in a old style Japanese residence the displays were at floor level. The many Japanese who attend seemed to have no problem bending or getting down on the floor to look. I was humbled by how easily older Japanese got up and down. Maybe this idea of displaying at average eye level was developed by Americans who don't exercise enough.

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Re: Display Stands

Post  al keppler on Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:03 am

Kakejiku wrote:I will provide you a critique that my Sensei, Kuzuhara Hiroyuki, did of a display done for the Toko Kazari competition at Hanford CA. Hopefully, his critique and photoshop will give you a visual of how he selected the table....and provides some reference to your questions.


The first picture is the original display, and the second is the Sensei's photoshopped version of what he thinks a better table would be...My translation of what he wrote in Japanese is below.
This is a good example of a seki kazari display, however the table used is too high.
When using a thinner trunked, bunjin -like styled tree it is better to use a flat table (Heishoku or Heitaku not sure on the original words pronunciation) or a Jiita would be better suited. Also, this scroll's color is too dark, and it would be more serene/quiet if there was a beige or khaki color. The scroll is too strong, and takes the attention, thus the main piece takes a lesser precedence in the entire display, and in the future it is better to find a more light colored scroll, and a less powerful image for the scroll that takes a secondary stance and is not repetitive in the entire display.
(Disclosure: I made this scroll.)



I think it would be more courteous to let everyone know whose pictures these are. I do not take kindly to having my pictures lifted from another forum and posted without attribution. You have not asked to use the photo in your avatar either. I am not a greedy person and feel that sharing for education is great. But ask in the future.

Thanks, Al

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