A busy few weeks have meant no posts, but as i am sat immobilised for 8 hours, i have no excuse. Im currently en route to Orlando for the Florida Bonsai Convention. Will be a good event as some bloke called Brian O'Neil is also on the bill. Will be interesting to see if he's any good...can't be any worse than me. Tropical trees? I'm from Yorkshire, the most tropical thing i had growing up was a pineapple ring on my gammon.
Last weekend saw a road trip to Orsholz Germany for their national show. I went purely as a spectator and to meet some people...sadly hardly anyone turned up which was a problem for sales. I was acting as John Pitt's assistant for the weekend and we struggled to sell anything. It didnt help that so few people turned up but it was still a great time, i met up with and got drunk with Valentin Brose, my little brother so to speak, he is doing well it seems and is forging ahead in Germany. It was a sunny weekend and a lot of beer and sausage was consumed. The standard of the winning trees was a little disappointing in the sense that very little effort had gone into the preparation of the trees. Dirty needles, poor mossing and little thought towards display. That is something unforgiveable, no matter how good the tree, if it isn't clean, it has no place in an exhibition...something im sure will come up over the next few weeks. I will be talking a lot about display over the next few days and I have strong opinions on this topic. One very experienced suiseki enthusiast once asked me if I was scared of putting on a display...i didn't understand really at the time, but he told me (in a scene reminiscent of Yoda telling Luke not to go into that cave) that I should be, I should be. Scared in the sense that when you create a display, even at a small exhibition, then you are putting yourself on display, opening up your own heart and soul for all to see. As an observer, if you look hard enough with an open mind you can see the heart with which the bonsai is maintained and the spirit of the person who created the display.
Schnell! Schnell! kartoffelkopf!
One thing which was a feature of the weekend was being guilty by association. There was some big football match going on, Chelsea of England vs. Bayern Munich who were from just down the road. Despite our protestations, all the Germans seemed to think that we wanted Chelsea to win, simply because we are from the same country. Now normally that logic works but not this time. I had £5 on Bayern to win 2-1 and my feelings on their captain, the suspended John Terry are well known. I think he's a thoughtless loud mouthed hypocrite who is detrimental to English football but it wasn't just the champions league which created guilt by association of nationality but also the activities of another UK based bonsai-ist. I lost count of the times we were asked what the hell was going on in his demonstrations or that "I bought a tree and it died...", like we had any part in it. It became embarrassing and discouraging for the future, I guess that some people within the bonsai community need to look very hard at the possible consequences of their actions for the art as whole. A detrimental headline in a national newspaper would truly ring the death knell for bonsai. I know that claims of jealousy or people in glass houses will be levelled at me but as you know, my poly tunnel blew away in the wind.
Anyway...moving onwards and upwards. 10,379 metres in fact. Leaving this time was harder than ever, i never like leaving home but this time was different. Perhaps subconciously i was doing all i could to not get on the plane as yesterday i lost my wallet, complete with Drivers license and credit cards. Thankfully it was handed into the police but it took a day of lost preperation to track it down. This morning i thought I had lost my phone, frantically searching twenty minutes before departure. I asked a lovely lady at the airport if she could call the number and see where it was...and rather embarrasingly it was in my pocket. She said "You know you could have just asked me for my number" which i took as a double result. Will have to remember that one. The trick that is, not the number...
As much as these trips are fun and exciting, this is the first time that i have left my trees at home for a prolonged period of time and it got up to 26 degrees yesterday. Strict instructions have been left and it has been agreed that no responsibility is held at home. Through some monumental losses in prevous years I have become very good at accepting blame for any mistakes made. It is my choice after all.
Have you never thought how paradoxical it is that whilst creating bonsai is a long term affair and is based on the day to day maintenance of the trees, the people who travel the world teaching it are never at home in order to do that? (I should stop as I am talking myself out of workshops...) In the West we do not have the number and distribution of enthusiasts that enables us all to stay at home...I need Lady Saruyama to step up to the plate and earn enough for me to take early retirement.
Sadly such pipe dreams are still just that...with a weakening Euro, newspapers foretelling the end of the world as we know it (i had the misfortune to read a complimentary copy of the daily mail in the airport) then I guess a long term strategy for sustainable growth is required. Keeping faith in your own bonsai ideas or moral compass when they are not profitable or lead you against the flow is the most difficult task but one which I have long been aware of. I remember the Chief telling me once very early on in my apprenticeship that I was destined to remain financially poor as my taste in trees is terrible from a commercial perspective and I am unwilling to compromise. Not that I am complaining like...the wolves are not at the door yet...and i can always seem to find money to buy a new tree....i got this lovely little literati oak in germany, great bark quality, subtle movement...give it five years and...it will be worth the same as when i bought it.
See you on the other side