Flower power

Ikebana master Akane Teshigahara’s impeccably stunning Japanese floral arrangements mirror her passion for perfection and her eye for detail. The world-class talent was recently in Bangkok to set up an 8m-tall Japanese ikebana, together with smaller displays, for “Emporium Mother’s Day: Love Blossom” celebrating HM Queen Sirikit’s birthday.

“I am thrilled to be invited to such an auspicious event, and the fact that this coincides with the 125 years of Thai-Japanese diplomatic relations, makes my visit all the more special,” she said.

While explaining the main component that went into her exhibits, the stylishly dressed educator said bamboo is commonly used on auspicious occasions in Japan because it is known to emanate power and gracefulness.

This makes it the perfect tool to use in the ikebana to commemorate the birthday of the mother of the Kingdom of Thailand, she added.

While her work is open to interpretation, the world-class artist did shed light on what her designs represented in the show. For one, she began, the fan depicts the path of giving, which is deemed a symbol of luck in Japan, while the straight forms convey the message of loyalty. The curved lines composed by perpendicular structures demonstrate beauty, and the white and green colours exude exuberance.

On her debut exhibition, the 53 year-old said: “The challenge in setting up the larger installations was not so much about the details that went into them, but rather how to best address the presentation so Thai people would be delighted with the exhibition.

“Finding the correct type of local bamboo, which is different from Japan in size and hardness, initially caused some concern, but in the end it turned out to be an excellent opportunity to create a new Sogetsu creation.

“Thai bamboo is narrower and harder than what we get back home, and looks more delicate. We had to use a lot more bamboo than we usually do to make an impact on the floral arrangement.”

Teshigahara, satisfied with her debut event in Bangkok, said she would be happy to return to showcase her work if an occasion arose. Having worked closely with the locals, she said she found them to be kind, passionate and with good concentration levels to make ikebana. Moreover, Thais have an innate ability for flower arrangement, she added.

Among her many roles, the acclaimed artist is headmistress of Sogetsu School, one of the oldest ikebana institutions in Japan.

On managing the family-run school, which first opened its doors in 1927, Teshigahara noted that their teaching method involves infusing Japanese components and local culture into their ikebana-making. With 47 branches in Japan and more than 100 abroad, Sogetsu adheres to traditional teachings of the art, with the exception that it has always been open to new ideas to incorporate into its programmes if deemed essential.

The school’s philosophy is to make ikebana which is not restricted in its approach, she said, it should be open to interpretation and should harmonise with its ambience.

The straight-talking educator, who began studying floral arrangements as a six-year-old, said because the much-loved art form is losing its lustre among the younger generation of Japanese, she takes every opportunity to encourage children to try ikebana.

“Japanese floral display’s long history makes children feel it’s too difficult to master. When they observe there is little interest amongst grown ups too, they have a rather negative opinion of our traditional art, and so they give up easily,” said Teshigahara.

“That is why I take every opportunity to share this knowledge with them.

“Adults should also learn and have a more positive attitude towards passing on this tradition to the younger generation.”

To keep the tradition of ikebana alive among not just a new generation of Japanese but globally, the floral arrangement expert says it is pivotal to make the learning experience interesting.

She encourages her students to choose their own materials when they learn with her to spice up the experience.

Teshigahara says the heart of ikebana art is to convey peace and serenity through what she describes as life power hidden in plants. So the best way to appreciate it is by simply enjoying what you see and feel.

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Source Article from http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/women/363953/flower-power
Flower power
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