Floral Art Show

A Hana-isho radial arrangement in the Ohara school of
ikebana will certainly enhance a dining table setting

“Heritage of Flowers” is the theme for the annual exhibition of Ikebana International Johor Baru (IIJB), Chapter 235, planned for June 1 & 2 at the Puteri Pacific Hotel Johor Baru.  The aim of this year’s theme is to celebrate the heritage of the various schools of Ikebana with a special tribute to Charter President YAM Tunku Shahariah bte Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman. 
There are several schools of ikebana that follow a particular set of rules and arrangement techniques with the more popular Ikenobo, Ohara, Sogetsu, Koryu, Ryuseiha and Ichiyo schools of ikebana and in this year’s exhibition, IIJB members will be creating legacy arrangements by various headmasters from selected schools.

Shirley Cheah, Sogetsu instructor, helping study group
students in their selection of flowers
IIJB members study ikebana or the art of Japanese flower arrangement that follows a fixed pattern of a triangle with three points that represent Heaven, Earth and Man, from experienced instructors as well as visiting flower masters.  The key consideration in ikebana is to use as few plant materials as possible to compose an elegant arrangement. 
The emphasis is on linear perfection, colour, harmony, space and form, and the choice of plant materials is guided by the artist’s desire to create harmony between the materials and the vessels used. 

Sogetsu student, YM Gusti Puteri Retno Astrini
practicing her flower arrangement using dried twigs
The heritage of the IIJB chapter in the Sogetsu, Ohara and Ikenobo schools of ikebana will be showcased in the coming exhibition through arrangements by members of IIJB and invited guests that represent the schools of ikebana that they are studying.  To prepare for the exhibition, the students are planning and practicing the arrangements for their ikebana presentations under the tutelage of their respective instructors.  This annual exhibition is an eagerly anticipated event because it is an opportunity for students in the study groups for the Sogetsu and Ohara schools of ikebana here to exhibit their floral art to the public.
Japanese students, Tomoko Shinohara [Left]
and Shizuyo Hiroi in the Sogetsu study group
Study group students in the Sogetsu and Ohara schools of ikebana meet twice a week for lessons that follow ikebana textbooks and take examinations to qualify before going on to the next grade.  The study group in the Sogetsu school of ikebana is guided by instructor, Shirley Cheah, an accomplished Sogetsu practitioner who has been a student of a Master of Sogetsu and President of the Sogetsu Association of Singapore, Mrs Kazue Kato Kim, since 2007. 
With more than 30 years as an ikebana practitioner, Past President of IIJB and President of the Ohara School of Ikebana, Singapore Chapter, Datin Ong Kid Ching, is the instructor for the study group in the Ohara school of ikebana.

“An exhibition is a real opportunity to display the personality of the Sogetsu Study group and for us to learn from the experience of exhibiting our floral art,” said Cheah on how her students are preparing a range of floral arrangements for the exhibition in the Sogetsu school of ikebana.  While it is usually a more mature audience who may appreciate the art of flower arrangements, Cheah aims to promote ikebana to younger people and even students.  She said this year’s trend in Tokyo is the use of dried twigs so her students are encouraged to use them in their arrangements for the coming exhibition.
Ohara instructor, Datin Ong Kid Ching [2nd from Left]
demonstrating an arrangement with some of her
Ohara study group students
“In the Ohara school of ikebana, less is more,” said Ong, a Third Master in the Ohara school of ikebana who also holds the Komon (Advisory Grade) in the Sogetsu school of ikebana in Japan. 
Ong encourages students in her study group to draw inspiration from plants and colours that exist in Nature and try to recreate Nature in their arrangements because Ohara arrangements have a lot of green as its base colour that emulate Nature and the seasons.  All Ohara arrangements for the exhibition will use unique ceramic vessels made by Ong who is also a talented ceramic artist.

Datin Ong giving her comments to
student, Ira Wolf, on her Hana-isho
rising form arrangement by Natsuki Ohara
The public is invited to “Heritage of Flowers,” the IIJB annual ikebana exhibition that will be held in the lobby of the Puteri Pacific Hotel on June 1 & 2. 
The highlight of the programme on June 2 is a guest demonstration in five schools of ikebana by accomplished ikebana practitioners like Tan Bo Tan who will demonstrate for the Ikenobo school, Momoka Emmett for the Ryuseiha school, Anju Bhardwaj for the Ichiyo school, Shirley Cheah for the Sogetsu school and Datin Ong Kid Ching for the Ohara school.  While the demonstrators will be provided one common material for each of the two arrangements they will demonstrate simultaneously, containers and other materials will be chosen by them to express the style of their respective schools of ikebana.

Membership in Ikebana International Johor Baru is open to all who are interested in the Japanese art of flower arrangement.  Visit Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/IkebanaJB for membership enquiries and more info about the activities of IIJB Chapter 235.  A gallery of Ohara floral art is available on www.facebook.com/oharacircle  while enquiries on the study group for the Sogetsu school of ikebana may be sent to email:  sogetsujohor@gmail.com 
A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Streets Johor on 28 May 2014

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