Saturday, August 24, 2013

Demonstration by Masashi Hirao

Last weekend, Bonsai Society of Sydney hosted two demonstrations by a Japanese bonsai artist Masashi Hirao. We were told that he is 32 years old and from 2003 till recently he had been an apprentice at Mansei-en in Omiya. Now, he is working in a company called Advance K & B Farms Corporation located in Omiya, which specialises in exporting koi and bonsai overseas. He is a recipient of a Japanese government grant given to young artists to promote Japanese culture abroad. Apparently, he has to visit ten countries in 120 days. Before the demonstration he showed us a short video about his apprenticeship under Saburo Kato and the preparation for the trip. Masashi also showed us a pair of stainless steel gold plated bonsai scissors given to him by Saburo Kato. They are his talisman. After this he proceeded to style a Procumbent Juniper shown in the image A. After two hours of pruning and wiring he presented us with the tree shown in the image B. On the previous day he conducted a similar demonstration where he styled a Sergeant’s Juniper shown in the image C. I felt that the tree in image B was a more interesting material than the tree in image C and that inspired grater expectations for the demonstration on the day. 

Well, what can I say? Two hours is a very short time for a demonstration on a tree like this. Masashi sure can prune and wire very fast, but after nearly ten years as a bonsai apprentice it can be expected. He said that usually it would take him six hours to style a tree like this. In my opinion the ‘finished tree’ shown in the image B has no appealing form and shows no future promise of it. Masashi said it is a natural style. Sure one may encounter a tree of this shape in nature, but I don’t find it particularly elegant. On the other hand, the tree shown in the image C is styled in a more conventional way and it could become a graceful bonsai in the future. Looking at the two trees styled by Masashi I see extremes, one is usual and the other is odd. I should see more of his work before forming an opinion. Overall, the demonstration was quite entertaining and I enjoyed it.

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