Once again much time has passed since the last blog entry. I seem to only manage it once a month. Still, not much has changed...except that I managed to take a little time off and spent most of it drunk, eating or watching football. It turns out that after all these years of doing Bonsai 24/7 that I don't actually have a hobby to speak of. I did spend some time thinking about future plans and what direction I need to head in. This resulted in me buying a diary and attempting to become more organised.
I am now back at the Chief's and working and living as if I were still an apprentice, which of course I am until one of dies...and then even after that. After the earthquake and subsequent devastation, the Bonsai community has continued even more quickly on it's downward path, however there are some bright spots. Various different media appearances including both the Chief and myself have stimulated a lot of interest and we have had a number or younger visitors to the garden, including some lovely ladies...which is always nice. The power of television is incredible...I need to find a way to get on to the BBC.
Without wishing to sound boastful my face has been cropping up all over the place recently. I was featured in the May edition of Kinbon, the June edition of Satsuki Kenkyu and the most recent edition of Bonsai Focus. A copy of BF arrived at the garden the day before I did and the Chief was not impressed to see my work when compared to the tree which Ryan worked on. With the apprentice of his rival on the cover and working a great piece of material to a superb completion, it was a blow to his pride to see me working on a lesser piece of material tucked away at the back of the magazine. If he could read the text then he would understand the point I was trying to make, however a picture speaks a thousand words. He asked me next time to do something more impressive.
Rivalry in Bonsai is like a cancer that eats away at the enjoyment of playing around with little trees. Trying to create it or measuring one person against the other on the basis of one tree seems counter productive and pointless. I am the first to admit that there are much more skilled people in Bonsai than myself...but anyway, lets get back to me showing off..
When I was here at the start of the year I was asked to do a photoshoot for Gekkan Satsuki. I have done a few for them before and they have been terrible. The Chief has always picked the worst piece of material for me and it has been all but impossible to create anything. This time I was in charge of the material and I went out and bought a lovely tree which would quite easily be transformed. The tree is an Osakazuki, a tough variety which will withstand dead wood and not die back. I was particularly taken with the 90 degree bend in the trunk and the funky movement in the branches. It was also a tree which could have been made easily from either side.
The work took a day and was not particularly taxing. Once the branches had been removed, it was a case of a little carving, wiring and then planting it on a Kurama stone. I have never liked the approach to demonstrations or photoshoots which ends up with dead trees, doing something extreme for the sake of it and ending up with a tree which slowly dies and you have nothing to show for it. Thankfully, as you can see, the tree is in bloom now and has put on some great new growth.
Design wise there are a few things which may change in the future, the branch on the right may be slowly removed, it is a little risky to do it due to the flow of the live vein around the back. Otherwise I am happy it is flourishing and I didnt kill it. Maybe next year it can go to one of the upcoming shows.
The reason I am back in Japan is to help out at a busy time. We have many Satsuki shows to prepare for, a suiseki exhibition and then post flowering pruning and Pine candle cutting to get done by the end of June. The Chief will be away for two weeks in China and Germany in the middle of it all. Updates on work will follow so stay tuned.