Ikebana and me
Where it all began...
The practice of Ikebana started hundreds of years ago in the temples of Japan. The placing of offerings at temple altars had been a practice in Japan since very ancient times in both the Shinto and Buddhist traditions. This included the offering of flowers to honour and please the Gods, Saints, Ancestors and Spirits. Eventually the monks and priests making these offerings began to arrange them in ways which they felt were both pleasing and that represented the beauty of the natural world. Over time this became the practice of Ikebana, spreading from temples to the homes of nobles and wealthy merchants eventually coming to be enjoyed by people from all walks of life in Japan as we know it today. Over this time a number of different styles and approaches to ikebana have become formalised into specific schools each with their own particular aesthetic sensitivities, tools and practical skills. Sogetsu Ikebana is one of these and is the school of ikebana that I have been studying for a number of years.
What makes ikebana special...
Ikebana is the approach by which we take something from nature and seek to reveal its essential character, natural perfection and beauty in ways that are not possible in a garden context. The flowers and materials we work with in ikebana are not only 'arranged' but are instead brought to life by the skilled hands of the practitioner. In this sense it is far from simply placing flowers in a vase and even has quite a different approach to working with materials, both natural and unconventional, than the practice of western floristry. Through Ikebana we can see and experience the transient and fragile beauty of flowers and natural materials in their most pure essence, bringing delight, surprise, elegance and joy, uplifting mind and spirit in the process.
I've been studying Ikebana since 2014 in both Canberra and Sydney as well as having had the great privilege of having some lessons at Sogetsu Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.
My professional background and original university degree was in Graphic Design and I worked in that industry for over a decade, still occasionally doing some projects here and there. I presently hold three certificates in the practice of Ikebana and have attended a number of formal workshops as well as having participated in exhibitions in both Canberra (Canberra Nara Candle Festival in both 2015 and 2016) and Sydney (Sydney botanic gardens 2017). At the 2016 Canberra Nara Candle festival I led 2 workshops of 10 people in which they were able to create a basic traditional arrangement.
Through continued study I expect to qualify in further certificates in 2018 which will allow me to expand my course offering. At that point as an Officially Accredited Sogetsu Ikebana Teacher, I will be able to start students with the official text book recognised by Sogetsu School. At present my qualification only permits me to give informal instruction in Sogetsu Ikebana which is suitable to provide students with basic skills and ideas about ikebana (but does not contribute to certification). This will give students a sound base for them to then go on to formal studies if they wish.
My hope is to help you start an ikebana journey that will bring you great joy and excitement for years to come. You will finish my course with a sound appreciation and understanding of what ikebana is and some foundation skills and knowledge that will enable you to make simple ikebana arrangements that you can enjoy at home or even in your workplace!