Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Visit to Bonsai Farm, Melbourne

Last week, I visited ‘Bonsai Farm’ nursery in Melbourne and had the most delightful conversation with Lindsey Farr. We talked about vintage bonsai pots and about the future of international bonsai. I bought his ‘’World of Bonsai’’ DVD’s, which was the main reason for my visit. I saw some nice trees there and generally got a good vibe from the place.

I kept thinking about the future of bonsai on the flight home. What are the possible directions for new development? To me, bonsai is primarily a form of sculpture. The fact that it employs some of the most complex artistic media (live plants) is important as well because it restricts the subject of bonsai as artistic work. The subject of bonsai is always a plant. There are bonsai or penching which look like a dragons or Chinese characters, but they still have to look like plants. A bonsai artist is a sculptor who has no choice, but to make statures of trees and nothing else. Trees come in many forms, but this variety is finite. Chinese and Japanese artists exhausted all these forms in the last two thousand years. Masahiko Kimura made a successful attempt to incorporate elements of abstract art, but how far can you go down that road? Can we have a bonsai tree that doesn’t look like a plant? 

Moving away from traditional bonsai pot forms is another direction for the future. You can’t make your bonsai tree look like a ‘couch’, but you can make a ‘couch-shaped’ bonsai pot and your bonsai tree may look quite novel in it.Thinking further outside the box: combining bonsai with objects other than rocks and containers. Here is the food for thought, because these objects can be an exquisite art in themselves and they are not going to be restricted in their form by anything...

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