Welcome to the Saruyama Blog, intermittent and generally off topic. Occasionally you might see some trees...and weird ones at that.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Omachi Update and a bit of Bruce Lee

Another varied day of Bonsai related fun, including a suprise visit from Isao Omachi who had his entire life washed away in the Tsunami in March. There was a blog entry about him and the donation fund for him. It was good to see him back doing business and making attempts to get back to normal. We didnt discuss much about the devastation in his life...we talked more about Chinese pots and what was happening in the Bonsai world at the moment. He came with Sakurai Senior and Junior. Sakurai Junior is an apprentice of Shinji Suzuki and good friends with Omachi, working regularly together. Sakurai senior is a pot broker more than a bonsai professional; he is a good friend of the garden and has a fantastic poker face. When discussing pots and business in general, he plays dumb even when he has heard everything before. One of the aspects of the Bonsai business in Japan I enjoy is the relationships between professionals and the poker playing attitude to business. Give a little here, bluff and play dumb, occasionally you can hit the jackpot. Auctions are hilarious at times watching people play off against each other. Recently things have been made more interesting by the inclusion of a few Chinese buyers. Anyway, I digress..

I did ask Omachi about the situation with the donation fund that Marco has set up and he is fully aware of it and the value of it. He expressed his deep grattude for the generosity of everybody and hope to repay everyone in kind in the future. I wish him the best of luck.

After a trip to the green club to drop off some trees for a show, I continued to work on the pine here. As mentioned yesterday this is a triple trunked white pine picked up at an auction. As this is the worst time of year to be wiring white pines I had to take my time and ensure that no damage was caused to the delicate buds.

Sleep takes over again...and I'm back. A couple of days later but still here. As I mentioned previously, the tree was purchased at an auction at Seiko-en. I have begun to admire the styling of Yamada much more recently, finding his classic styling deeply beautiful. It is not pretty in the modern style of Bonsai but it has a depth and meaning much more appealing to the intellect rather than simply eye candy. In order to create this style it requires patience and the unlearning of many of the things I have spent years working on. Unlearning is perhaps the wrong word, being able to put them to one side is a better way of looking at it. It is important as a professional Bonsai artist to create trees which will appeal to the popular taste which is undoubtedly for pretty trees...however there are times when making a tree to please oneself is important.

With this tree, I attempted to use as little wire as possible and try to achieve the art of wiring without wiring. (for more on this watch this video) Sadly I failed miserably and I kept putting more and more wire on. In order to try to achieve the "artless art" (copyright Bruce Lee), it is very difficult to arrange the branches to look as though they have not been arranged. Five Needle pines are quite feminine, especially slender ones and they should look a little on the disheveled side. They are at their best when the wire is taken off and the tree begins to grow out of the rigid pads a little. The definition is still there but the lines are blurred. It is the same feminine beauty that you see when your woman is lounging around the house in sweat pants, wearing one of your shirts, without make up on and her hair in a bit of a mess. There is no pretence to prettiness but there is a sublime intrinsic beauty which makes you feel warm inside.

Recreating that in Bonsai is something I aim for but have yet to master, the reason being that you cannot do it in a few hours of wiring and styling. It comes from years of slow growth and mochikomi...the character that comes from years of restricted cultivation in a pot . The closest you can come in one session is to not wire the branches to the tips and to not create unnatural foliage pads. Movement should be gentle and not forced to align all the buds into a neat and compact shape. Styling of this variety is done much more with scissors than by wire. Branch removal is the key aspect. I think there are a few branches which need to be removed but they are kept for the time being. At least until I get over the shock at how difficult it was for me to try to make it look natural.

Bonsai is a constant struggle, mainly against impatience and adherence to patterns. One day however I will make a tree like this...named "Mikka tsuki" (3 day moon). It belonged to a customer of the garden who has been doing bonsai for longer than I have been alive. I repot his trees every spring and he tells me stories about the pre-chief bonsai world. It was a superb tree which held so much power, grace and elegance whilst appearing to have been growing like that for ever, never having seen a human hand. Anyway, my bed is calling me. I woke up at 3.30 am this morning to watch Man U get schooled in the art of Football. It was worth it.

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