Australian Style. . . what is it

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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby aaron_tas » December 30th, 2008, 10:09 pm

:D weel said MQ :D
inspired by nature,
considered superior to nature.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Jon Chown » December 31st, 2008, 12:28 pm

MelaQuin says
The discussion on Aussie styles is interesting when considered in light of the fact that the traditional styles we dwell on (formal/informal/windswept/slanting/cascade-semi cascade] are only 5-6 of a huge variety of styles that the Japanese have developed.

So if the Japanese can have multitudinous styles to depict the huge variety of ways THEIR trees grow why can't we.


I believe that this statement is, in my opinion, precisely why there is a gross misunderstanding about the meaning of Styles.

Creating a ‘Style’ is not about Us and Them, it is about defining the Art.

In the art world they have definitions like Oils, Water Colour, Pastels and Charcoal etc to define the medium used to create the art.

While there is no argument that it was the Chinese who started the whole process of growing little trees in pots, I believe that there is little doubt that it was the Japanese who adopted this art form and brought a degree of order to an otherwise open slather form of expression.

In order to describe the ‘Style of a tree, the Japanese decided to adopt five basic styles which were described by the inclination of a line taken from the Apex to the Base of the tree and thus we ended up with – Formal Upright – Informal Upright – Slanting – Semi-Cascade and Cascade. There are many computations and permutations from these basic ‘Styles’ like Multi trunk – Clump – Windswept – Root on Rock – Root over Rock and so on.

Five Styles.jpg


Believing explicitly in the KISS principal, I see no reason to change the ‘Styles’, after all trees that grow in Australia fit into one or the other of these criteria.

When it is standard practice to develop strongly defined foliage pads on basically horizontal branching, we then need a separate 'gum' style to depict the upward and openness of our eucalypts. Happily today's standards seem to be moving towards more realistic trees, bonsai that represent a stylised version of their wild form. In this trend we need Australian classifications to authenticate our trees growth habits. What IS the problem with this. Why do people keep insisting that styles must be dictated by tradition; a tradition established in a country that has trees with totally different stylised growth patterns to Australian flora because they are totally different species. Are we suggesting that Japanese maples should be styled like Japanese black pines?? Or don't maples deserve their own styles??? So if maples do... why not gums, baeckea, lillipillis....


I agree that many of the Bonsai developed in Japan and some European areas do have the tendency of horizontal to drooping branches synonymous of trees growing in areas subject to snow fall and that is to be expected as the people who design them are creating images that they have seen in their natural surroundings.

There has been much talk on the various forums with regard to a new style called ‘Natural’ or ‘Naturalistic’. Perhaps I am the only one who has a real problem with this so called New Style. My reason for this fear is that I have yet to see a simple description of the structure of this so called ‘Style’ and I believe that if it is encouraged it will lead to a culture of ‘anything in a pot is a bonsai’. (I am already seeing this on some sites)

When you move an art outside of its country of major development you must be prepared to adapt; adapt the art to the new parameters of the new stock being used. If you want Japanese styles to the detriment of creating/naming specific Australian styles... then stick with maples and pines and stay away from our trees.


Sorry, I can’t in all honesty agree at all with this outlandish statement. My love is for the hobby/art of creating an image that represents a tree, that may be seen in nature, in miniature form. The material used (species of tree) is immaterial to the result, provided that, as you quite correctly state, you do not try to style a species in a manner that you would not see in nature.

Jon
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Pup » December 31st, 2008, 3:02 pm

I know a lot of the members of this forum and many others have access to Bonsai today . The early editions were translated from the Japanese.
In BT #7 page19 is an article on creation pruning. What has this got to do with Australian Naturalistic style? I hear you say well. With some trepidation I will Quote the Sensei Masahiko Kimura.This is a direct Quote.
Bonsai must always have a natural shape.The tree should remind the viewer of growth habits of trees that might be found in nature.
Many years ago when cultivation of Bonsai became established in Japan, the classic styles of Bonsai evolved.
These styles are not arbitrary or artificial, but they are abstractions and simplifications of the many forms that trees growing wild adopt.

Although the shaping of a Bonsai does not require that it be a faithful copy of classic styles, the precepts involved provide important guidance for basic patterns for shaping the trunk, relationships of branches and overall silhouette.

Bonsai is not a botanical curiosity, in doubtful taste, of a weeping pine or a cascading Lombardy poplar. Such growth patterns in these species can only be found in nature with great difficulty, if at all. The admonition having been made, the methods of achieving style in a tree by pruning will be explored.
There are essentially two kinds of pruning, both directed at developing style. End quote.

This edition was published in May--June of 1990.
At least two years after it was published in Kinsai so the Japanese have been practising Naturalistic style quite a long time.
Kabudachi for instance have a look at one then look at a Mallee.
I agree with Jon it is how you as an individual wish to perceive this hobby. As for saying do not style Australian tree's as such and such I also agree with Jon.

As I have seen with my own though old now eyes Eucalyptus camaldulensis as a windswept and semi cascade in nature. Near the town of Greenough just South of Geraldton in Western Australia.
Also in my post on inspiration the Melaleucas growing on the rock formations around Albany WA. So it is still up to the individual to assess what they conceive to be Australian style.
Eucalyptus Melaleuca Banksia are Iconic of the Aussie Bush so when you see one you know it is Australian.
What is all the fuss about?. I will continue to grow my trees to fit what is in the tree whether it is a pine shape or a maple shape. I have posted some trees here that were all collected only one from a garden.The only work was to wire to open them up have a look at the styles.
All Australian trees as nature grew them. Pup
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterW » December 31st, 2008, 3:35 pm

I think that sometimes we try to reinvent the wheel so to speak. I think that the best way forward for Bonsai in Australia is to get our trees out there and accept any and all criticism of them and strive to do it better. I think that it is a waste of time to spend too much energy trying to determine or pin point exactly what is an Australian Style of Bonsai. If we were to forget this idea of "OURS" and just merge in with the rest of the world to promote Bonsai irregardless of location, i think we would go forward quicker.
As an example of promoting bonsai in Australia, there is the 2009 Photo competition running at the moment and is open to anybody to enter. Its not a big deal but if a tree from Australia did win.......it would promote the fact that Aussies can do this to! I think this is what we would be better off focusing on then trying to find the elusive answer to a question that at the end of the day means nothing at all. Lets not get bogged down in this Australian style thing so much that it ends up like a "is bonsai art" debate.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this to make sure i am not missing something.
Regards all
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby aaron_tas » December 31st, 2008, 5:15 pm

PeterW wrote:that it ends up like a "is bonsai art" debate.


:arrow: ...bonsai is art :!:
inspired by nature,
considered superior to nature.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Jon Chown » December 31st, 2008, 7:41 pm

Peter said:-
I would like to hear your thoughts on this to make sure i am not missing something.


I don't think that you are missing anything at all Peter and I agree that it is important to let our Bonsai speak for us, however, while we are waiting for our trees to become noteworthy enough to do the speaking, I don't mind a little debate on the semantics. Provided that it doesn't get out of hand and everyone is allowed their opinion.

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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterW » December 31st, 2008, 9:11 pm

aaron_tas wrote:
PeterW wrote:that it ends up like a "is bonsai art" debate.


:arrow: ...bonsai is art :!:

Not even going there aaron!

Why is it important to have an Australian Style? I think all that will do is keep us segregated from the rest of the world. Has anybody heard of any other style from a country anywhere else in the world, exluding Japan as they are responsible for the already discussed naming of the styles?
The only style that springs to mind is Penjing and it is another form completely, is that what we are trying to create, something as unique as penjing. If so, lets see some examples, not one or two, but many.
I read the comments here that people want an "Australian style ", the comments also say that it should reflect the way that trees grow in Australia. Do you think trees in China actually all grow like Penjing? No they dont. They grow just as randomly as our trees given the differing climatic conditions.
I think that the existing styles are all encompasing and if in the future, a new direction or style should start to make noises, deal with it then. I am yet to see any tree, native or other that actually says "I Am Australian".
What could possibly benifit us is if we were to examine American Bonsai from its introduction to where it is today, and study the influences that they have had, such as the ability over the years to import from Japan. That alone must have been a huge influence as the trees they were importing were already very aged and worked on by people who are posibly second and third generation Bonsai growers. Whilst in Australia, before internet, it really was primitive, trust me i was there. Also a close look at Indonesian Bonsai over the last 20 years or more wouldnt do any harm, theres a place that Bonsai has come forward in leaps and bounds. The available species have been good to them also! I havent heard Robert Steven or anybody else running around claiming a style of theres as unique to Indonesia either. They are simply blending in with the rest of the world and making a very big statement with their trees.
We certainly have the trees, but we dont have the quality trees (natives) that are capable of making that statement yet, or not that i have seen anyway. I dont doubt for a minute that one day we will have something credible to show the rest of the world and claim it as Australian but at the moment i just dont see it, not in as far as Natives are concerned anyway.
I am looking forward to reading others opinions on this as this is only my opinion.
Regards
Peter
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterH » December 31st, 2008, 9:27 pm

My slant on the subject, Something I wrote last year.

Bonsai is a relatively new art in Australia compared with Asia, more accurately Japan and China. Being new to this art has its advantages, in that most of the structural and horticultural problems have been solved over many centuries of trail, error and observation. Since the 1950’s, these techniques have been extensively documented.

The structural observations were made of local trees and applied in various ways to make a potted plant look like a tree. These trees took many shapes as they do in nature, which lead to the Japanese formalizing the styles with which we are familiar with today. The Chinese on the other hand had schools of Penjing which varied in style from North to South with the same basics result of recreating nature in a pot.

As an art form these styles have been interpreted in many ways over the centuries and have become more abstract than actual, but still as an art form, pleasing to the eye.
The product of any art is a reflection of the artist environment, culture and personal experience. This is reflected in the Bonsai’s and Penjing of Asia.

As a western Bonsai artist I started by learning the basic horticultural and structural techniques from a teacher. I read many books and practiced on many different plants from various nurseries. Over 15 years I have and am still creating Bonsai in the traditional form.

BUT

I feel that to be a true Australian Bonsai artist we need to use the vast recourses available to us in our own back yards and interpret then recreate what we actually see with our own eyes. Eucalyptus,Callitris,Banksai,Acacias and on and on.
The great landscape artists of Australia painted local content, as we should create living Australian landscapes and trees with native material. The only draw back is the lack of the correct horticultural knowledge of native material which is partly being addressed by a national study group and by many people like myself, who are working with particular species and learning by trail and error, then needing to put pen to paper.

I feel this is an exiting time in Australian Bonsai as more and more people are working with Australian Natives and developing a distinctive Australian style.


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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Jon Chown » December 31st, 2008, 10:51 pm

Peter H said:-
I feel that to be a true Australian Bonsai artist we need to use the vast recourses available to us in our own back yards and interpret then recreate what we actually see with our own eyes. Eucalyptus,Callitris,Banksai,Acacias and on and on.


Perhaps we should stop comparing ourselves with the Japanese and attempt to compete with the Chinese and create Penjing - I can see it now, a herd of Brumbies grazing around the Billabong with a grove of Coolabah trees and a Swagie squatting by the fire.

I feel this is an exiting time in Australian Bonsai as more and more people are working with Australian Natives and developing a distinctive Australian style.


Peter, I am in agreeance with the excitement of working with Aussie Natives but fail to see any 'distinctive Australian styles' developing - perhaps in the fullness of time.....

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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Hector Johnson » January 2nd, 2009, 5:32 am

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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterW » January 2nd, 2009, 10:19 am

Hector Johnson wrote:In short, if you want to develop an Australian Style, do it from a position of strength, defensible by the quality of your trees and the resemblance they bear to the native conditions they represent, rather than by your words and shrill insistence that your creation is unique and nationalistic and somehow deserving of recognition regardless of quality.


As i mentioned in an earlier post Hector, I am yet to see that quality in a Native plant(bonsai). When we do have the type of quality suitable to be put on the world stage, then we are in the defendable position that you mention. I think given time, we will make our mark on the world scene but i doubt it will be in my lifetime nor will it be with natives material! There maybe Bonsai (Native) out there in Australia that are of this elusive quality that just havent been displayed anywhere. I think that we are still coming to terms with what natives are even suitable for Bonsai use. Some that i have seen being posted, i wouldnt consider good material to work with for a start. I was told by someone (a native bonsai grower) that they got rid of a certain species of tree (a non native species that i posted) because of its upward growth habit. Then I am confronted with the same grower posting natives here and elsewhere with not only a severe upward growth habit, but suggestions (from the grower)that the species wont tolerate having its branches wired below horizontal. The foliage appears to be like that of a pom pom and just growing straight up from the supportive branch. If thats the best we can do with our natives, count me out, i'll stick with the exotics. I think that whilst this thread is no doubt started with all the best intentions, it has got the capability of dividing the Australian bonsai growers, that wont have any positive outcomes whatsoever. Bonsai in Australia is still in its infancy, a direction will appear as we develop and start to make noises on the world stage. I hope my post is not sounding doom and gloom for natives, but it is how i feel. I am probably not the best person to be contributing to this discussion as i have had very little to do with natives in the first place.
I am enjoying reading how others see this situation and am looking forward to some form of summary at the end.
Warm Regards
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Pup » January 2nd, 2009, 11:02 am

PeterW wrote:
Hector Johnson wrote:In short, if you want to develop an Australian Style, do it from a position of strength, defensible by the quality of your trees and the resemblance they bear to the native conditions they represent, rather than by your words and shrill insistence that your creation is unique and nationalistic and somehow deserving of recognition regardless of quality.


As i mentioned in an earlier post Hector, I am yet to see that quality in a Native plant(bonsai). When we do have the type of quality suitable to be put on the world stage, then we are in the defendable position that you mention. I think given time, we will make our mark on the world scene but i doubt it will be in my lifetime nor will it be with natives material! There maybe Bonsai (Native) out there in Australia that are of this elusive quality that just havent been displayed anywhere. I think that we are still coming to terms with what natives are even suitable for Bonsai use. Some that i have seen being posted, i wouldnt consider good material to work with for a start. I was told by someone (a native bonsai grower) that they got rid of a certain species of tree (a non native species that i posted) because of its upward growth habit. Then I am confronted with the same grower posting natives here and elsewhere with not only a severe upward growth habit, but suggestions (from the grower)that the species wont tolerate having its branches wired below horizontal. The foliage appears to be like that of a pom pom and just growing straight up from the supportive branch. If thats the best we can do with our natives, count me out, i'll stick with the exotics. I think that whilst this thread is no doubt started with all the best intentions, it has got the capability of dividing the Australian bonsai growers, that wont have any positive outcomes whatsoever. Bonsai in Australia is still in its infancy, a direction will appear as we develop and start to make noises on the world stage. I hope my post is not sounding doom and gloom for natives, but it is how i feel. I am probably not the best person to be contributing to this discussion as i have had very little to do with natives in the first place.
I am enjoying reading how others see this situation and am looking forward to some form of summary at the end.
Warm Regards
Peter


It was me Peter I said I got rid of my Ficus natalensis, because of its up ward growth that was a constant problem to me!!. Not to others who are willing to put up with it. The other statement was. They will not grow past the parallel was in answer to a question. I study Native tree's of all and note the differing growth habits.
Which I have stated here. As for Australian NATIVE tree's not being up there . Can you Deny that the Banner that is at the top of this page is up there on the world stage? or as you say just a piece of.
Forget it as you have already dismissed Australian natives!!.
PS. At the Bonsai Clubs International Convention in June this year in New Orleans. Bottle Brush ( Callistemons ) are being promoted as very suitable stock for Bonsai especially for work in summer.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterW » January 2nd, 2009, 1:15 pm

It was me Peter I said I got rid of my Ficus natalensis, because of its up ward growth that was a constant problem to me!!. Not to others who are willing to put up with it. The other statement was. They will not grow past the parallel was in answer to a question. I study Native tree's of all and note the differing growth habits.
Which I have stated here. As for Australian NATIVE tree's not being up there . Can you Deny that the Banner that is at the top of this page is up there on the world stage? or as you say just a piece of.
Forget it as you have already dismissed Australian natives!!.
PS. At the Bonsai Clubs International Convention in June this year in New Orleans. Bottle Brush ( Callistemons ) are being promoted as very suitable stock for Bonsai especially for work in summer.[/quote]


"Can you Deny that the Banner that is at the top of this page is up there on the world stage? or as you say just a piece of."

So we can claim the credit for someone else growing an Australian native????? Dont think so. Lets see the


"At the Bonsai Clubs International Convention in June this year in New Orleans. Bottle Brush ( Callistemons ) are being promoted as very suitable stock for Bonsai especially for work in summer."
I dont doubt that they are suitable for bonsai use. Although the flower is to big to be displayed in scale to a tree, even a large tree the flower would look a liitle large. IMO.
I dont see any benifit in the above suggestion that they are "suitable stock for bonsai especially for work in summer". Further explaination of that comment would be benificial Pup, if possible. Out of curiosity, is this bottle brush able to tolerate having wired branches below the horizontal.? I do have a collected bottle brush and havent worked it at all, i would like to participate in what could be an exciting time in Australian Bonsai. My earlier point that i was trying to make is this, unless we have something that is at the very least comparable to world class bonsai, all we will end up with by creating a so called new style, is become a joke at other peoples expense throughout the world. Keep in mind the world is a small place in this day and age.
Kind regards
Peter
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Hector Johnson » January 2nd, 2009, 2:58 pm

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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Pup » January 2nd, 2009, 3:27 pm

I am not advocating a new style. I believe the styles that have been laid down do well and truly exist here, in our Natives
I am saying which you seem to doubt, that Australian Native tree's whether styled by some one out side Australia or not.
Can become a tree that is worthy of acceptance of a very good example of Bonsai.
Japanese Black pines are not native to America Europe or Taiwan but there are some fabulous examples. Produced in those country's.
If you look at the World Bonsai Contest for 2003 top 100 trees. Page 13 you will see a Callistemon rigidus, along side a Japonica fortunella and a Boungainvillea. All look Quite acceptable. Then as you say were not created by Australian.
On page 174 of the Shohin bonsai Exhibition in Tokyo Japan 2006.
Is a Leptospermum pink cascade. Oh! but not by an Australian. At the most prodigious exhibition of Shohin in Japan. A bit like Kokufu only for Shohin.
But then what would I know. :roll: I look with my eyes open.
Rules are rigid, guidelines are flexible.
As I said I am not advocating a new style, I am promoting Australian plants as Bonsai.
You said it is your opinion which you are entitled too.
I have one also which is Australian plants can and do make very good Bonsai.

Of the 200+ plus Melaleucas, I only have 16 they are the ones I can comment on, the one with all the questions about parallel is rhaphiophylla.
The Callistemon that I have worked on will go past the parallel. The one thing I have noticed with them after just a few years of growing them. Is the FLOWER does reduce in size!!. The Captain Cook I have left in my collection has flowers half what people perceive, to be normal size. Not that you are interested :roll:
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