Carolyn has been studying ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, for several years. I had the opportunity to view an exhibition of ikebana art held on the 19th floor of the Ishikawa Prefecture office building.
Anyone who has received a beautiful arrangement of flowers is familiar with the art of floral design. There’s a real skill to creating an aesthetically pleasing floral display. But the ikebana art I viewed takes floral design to a whole different level. It’s not just the flowers, but the arrangement of the flowers, branches, leaves and stems, and the container that holds them, that combine to create an aesthetic display that is a work of art. I found myself viewing the arrangements as I would a painting by Wyeth or Cassatt, noting how the arrangement of the organic materials, the choice of container, and the use of empty space combine to impact the viewer.
Carolyn’s arrangement communicates a peaceful spring-like setting, willow branches overhanging a stream, the buds just opening.
There were over 100 exhibitors, mostly older women, who worked diligently for hours to construct their arrangements. I was especially drawn to the traditional forms of ikebana, with their minimalist approach and use of open space, and also found intriguing the more contemporary arrangements, with their use of modern materials. The ephemeral nature of the art added a poignancy to the exhibition: in a few days these artworks would be gone forever.
Unfortunately my photos were unable to capture the beauty of these artistic creations. Go to the website of IKEBANA INTERNATIONAL for images of Japanese floral arrangements.
Ikebana (Japanese: 生け花 or いけばな, literally “living flowers”) is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, also known as kadō (華道)—the “way of flowers”.
In contrast to the decorative form of flower arranging in western countries, the Japanese flower arrangement creates a harmony of linear construction, rhythm, and color. While westerners tend to emphasize the quantity and colors of the flowers, devoting their attention mainly to the beauty of the blossoms, the Japanese emphasize the linear aspects of the arrangement. They have developed the art to include the vase, stems, leaves, and branches, as well as the flowers. The entire structure of a Japanese flower arrangement is based on three main points that symbolize heaven, earth, and humankind.