Australian Style. . . what is it

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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Kunzea » January 2nd, 2009, 4:46 pm

I've much enjoyed reading the posts on this topic to date. The range of ideas and feelings is good to see, as is the identification of both aspirations about Australian styles, and something of what 'styles' mean too.

I've been one of those who's pondered this topic over many years too. I've asked quite a number of people of varying experience for their views. Basically, the closest any wanted to come to naming a style was some variation around the ideas of eucalypts but even then they were concerned about the enormous range of variety there. Most wouldn't come at trying to name one. The reasons were not too dissimilar to what people here have noted already: such a wide variation in tree forms across a complex and diverse continent, but also it depends on where you come from or have experienced in the country as to what stirs your feelings most: pencil pines or mangroves, desert oaks or mallees etc.

I was interested when some of my friends pointed out that the 'Japanese styles' of formal/informal.slanting/cascade come from the middle of the last century as bonsai was moving out of Japan to America. A Japanese man, whose name I've forgotten, listed the classes of bonsai as a means of making communication easier given the broad variety of bonsai forms that one can find in Japan and China. These named 'styles' were not used by the Japanese to limit what they did with shaping their bonsai, but they certainly have morphed into rules, guidelines and the like that DO limit what a number of people around the world will admit into their practice of bonsai.

For me, the pursuit of a definable 'Australian style' has become less of a focus, though I am still interested in how others are handling the ideas. We don't need a defined Aus style to practice our bonsai. We do need careful observation of how trees grow in various places, the same way that an artist carefully observes what they are drawing. Out of this will come great trees that evoke feelings of 'I know that kind of tree or place'.

It could help if we see a language develop that allows broad and easy communication of what trees look like without having to write an essay. We have a few names that may be species based such as riverine eucalypt, or pencil pine, or Heysenesque-eucalypts, mulga etc, but these need time to be developed and proven to be feasible in bonsai. I'm willing to wait and see how things develop, including various attempts at putting the actions into words. One never knows which words will mature into something that eveyone instantly understands.

I like working with a number of species that often grow only as shrubs, but have wonderfully interesting forms of trunk, crown, bark and flowers. Sometimes they also grow as small trees. The distinction between tree and shrub in Australia is not so well marked as in many northern hemisphere temperate locations. The dividing line here is not so much a 'line' as it is a wide grey zone of great variety and excitement. That opens a wide area to explore and gain inspiration from. So for me, even focussing just on 'tree' is not a vital component of my bonsai so much as internalising the feeling of what the essence of the trees/shrubs that I've seen and greatly liked and then how to create that essence in 'bonsai'.

Cheers and Happy New Year
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterW » January 2nd, 2009, 6:28 pm

[quote="Pup"]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.[quote="Pup"] "I agree completely"

[quote="Pup"]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. [quote="Pup"] So should we ask those growers to answer the questions? Please dont twist my posts to suit yourself. Hectors comment in his post regarding the fact that he has a ficus that he believes could be classed as a show tree, thats how we go forward collectively. We should all be firstly enjoying what we do and secondly push the hobby globally.

[quote="Pup"]Japanese Black pines are not native to America Europe or Taiwan but there are some fabulous examples. Produced in those country's. [quote="Pup"] This is my point exactly Pup. The Americans are quite happy to progress in the Bonsai world by using trees native to anywher in the world, that is what we should be doing, not going forward with only our natives, because frankly they just are not up there yet....in Australia! We will stagnate if we do take that course IMO.


[quote="Pup"]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. [quote="Pup"] All look quite acceptable.....your words. I wouldnt put a tree forward to my peers that i thought was quite acceptable. I have higher expectations then that.

[quote="Pup"]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.[quote="Pup"] Now you are just being offensive Pup.


[quote="Pup"]Rules are rigid, guidelines are flexible. [quote="Pup"] I am not sure where you are going with that comment but however.....


[quote="Pup"]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.[quote="Pup"] I dont doubt that for one moment, you yourself just rattled off a few that you thought were quite acceptable. Sadly we cant claim that one of our own grew them and trained them though hey, dont ya think!

[quote="Pup"]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[quote="Pup"]
I actually do have quite a large bottle brush that i will start to do something with next year so thank you for that. I do apreciate your knowledge and advice.


Pup please, before you submit your posts, check it and then save it, dont submit it straight away. Edited 7 times in a few hours, makes it impossible for anybody to respond as you keep changing the goal posts!

Regards
Peter.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Pup » January 2nd, 2009, 7:27 pm

I see that you to are a private non professional person goodbye.
Sorry about the edit had to get the grammar and spelling correct.
As I said goodbye
Last edited by Pup on January 2nd, 2009, 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterW » January 2nd, 2009, 7:48 pm

Pup wrote:I see that you to are a private non professional person goodbye.
Sorry about the edit had to get the grammar and spelling correct.
As I said goodbye


Its like pre school all over again! Goodbye Pup. Dont forget your bat and ball.
Have a nice life.
Peter
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Jon Chown » January 2nd, 2009, 8:40 pm

The big question is... What is Australian style?

This was the question that Steven posed in the beginning.

I assume that the question was asked in order to create some form of debate as to the direction Bonsai Artists in Australia saw the future of our Hobby/Art on the world stage.

I believe that we all have a lot to learn from each other – we don’t have to agree on all points, but please, let us be civil in our discussion and accept each others right of opinion. Remember, our comprehension of the written word may differ to the authors.

From my understanding of the debate, it appears to me that both of you actually agree on many points, I can’t see why you seem to be bickering over small issues.

I will repeat two statements you have made which to me seems to sum up the debate to a degree.

Pup;
With some trepidation I will quote the Sensei Masahiko Kimura.

“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.”


When the Japanese documented these ‘Styles’, they did not call them Japanese Style, they merely attempted to place a description on the different styles that were obvious in nature. We could do a lot worse than attempt to emulate these descriptions.

PeterW;
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 don’t. They grow just as randomly as our trees given the differing climatic conditions.
I think that the existing styles are all encompassing 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".


I agree with the sentiment of this post, I can’t see any benefit from us attempting to create a so called Australian Style lets just create worthy bonsai for the world to appreciate (be it Native or Exotic), after all we have a long journey ahead to even come close to the rest of the World.

I understand that Steven started AusBonsai.com with the intent to promote Australian Natives as worthy bonsai material and I am prepared to do my bit with this promotion, but I will state here and now – Not to the detriment or exclusion of my Exotics. My love of Bonsai is the appreciation of ANY tree that moves my soul.

Lets get over the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ mentality (leave it to the Yanks) and get on with producing noteworthy bonsai.

This has been a great discussion thus far – please let’s keep it on track and not be offensive or defensive.

Your Friend in Bonsai
Jon
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Pup » January 2nd, 2009, 9:47 pm

PeterW wrote:
Pup wrote:I see that you to are a private non professional person goodbye.
Sorry about the edit had to get the grammar and spelling correct.
As I said goodbye


Its like pre school all over again! Goodbye Pup. Dont forget your bat and ball.
Have a nice life.
Peter


I have had a nice life and will continue to do so. Promoting Australian not knocking.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterW » January 2nd, 2009, 9:55 pm

Pup wrote:
PeterW wrote:
Pup wrote:I see that you to are a private non professional person goodbye.
Sorry about the edit had to get the grammar and spelling correct.
As I said goodbye


Its like pre school all over again! Goodbye Pup. Dont forget your bat and ball.
Have a nice life.
Peter


I have had a nice life and will continue to do so. Promoting Australian not knocking.


I said that in all sincerity as i thought by your childish remark that we would no longer be communicating!
I wont bother responding to your last feeble comment......
Peter
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterW » January 2nd, 2009, 9:57 pm

I agree with your sentiment entirely Jon. Unfortunately, it is difficult under the curcumstances.
Regards
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby anttal63 » January 2nd, 2009, 10:00 pm

gocny wrote:inappropriate words, masked by admin.
Last edited by gocny on January 3rd, 2009, 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: inappropriate words, masked by admin
Regards Antonio:
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Pup » January 3rd, 2009, 8:24 am

gocny wrote:inappropriate words, masked by admin.
Last edited by gocny on January 3rd, 2009, 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: inappropriate words, masked by admin.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby PeterW » January 3rd, 2009, 8:43 am

Please leave me out of your game.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby daiviet_nguyen » January 3rd, 2009, 12:22 pm

I have followed this discussion with much interest. And now I feel that I must say something.
I would like first to write a little about the background.

*
* *

Among Western bonsai books that do describe tranditional Japanese bonsai "styles", only discuss
the syntax of the styles -- e.g. formal upright must have a straight trunk, etc. Most do not
discuss the cultural aspects of the various styles? If they do, discussions only touch the
surface, and lack of depth: the Eastern philosophical aspects of the styles.

Going back a long time, in Asia, countries that have been conquered and ruled by the Chinese
have been heavily influenced by the Chinese cultures.

"Bonsai" was no exception. Olden styled trees usually expressed certain philosophical beliefs
by the artists. A learned-man first loyalty is to his king/lord, then to his teacher (singular),
and finally his father (yeah, let's forget the woman who gave birth to him) -- they did style
trees to express this social order. Needless to say those trees look... constipated.

Using, no doubt, Chinese material, a Vietnamese book published in 1996 discusses in total 39
"traditional" styles.

The Japanese no doubt has got rid of the ones they did not like. How much of the elimination
process was natural evolution, and how much was their attempt to distinguish themselves from
their once conquerors, the Chinese, were not well documented.

*
* *

When did the Japanese actually propose "bonsai styles" as we have come to know today?

I would like to repost an essay on The Larz Anderson (Bonsai) Collection here, it is originated
from this address http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/p ... es/779.pdf.

Even though it is about the The Larz Anderson (Bonsai), it also does a very thoroughout review
the importations of Japanese potted trees to the United States. Looking at the earliest exported
trees from Japan at the end of the 19th century, one can hardly say they were/are bonsai!

Classic Bonsai of Japan does show a lot photos of bonsai with hundreds of years old, but
little do we know about their early shapes.

I find artofbonsai.org's interview with Mr. Lindsay Farr, a Victorian professional bonsai artist,
intersting. The interview can be found here: http://artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=1489.

A particular passage from that interview:

Mr. Lindsay Farr wrote:I have a problem with the question in that it seems to assert that Yoshimura guideline (rules)
bonsai is traditional. Yoshimura told me in the most straightforward manner that he was under
considerable pressure from the Japanese politburo to complete this English language text post
haste. He said that he was a young man then and knew little of the world and the guidelines
section was somewhat rushed. Whilst the intrinsic merit of these guidelines deserves acknowledgment,
they are hardly traditional.


I cannot help but wonder if the "Japanese bonsai styles" were put together for the benefits of
Western audiences in the first place?

*
* *

Having said all the above, I think, in Australia, we should just first enjoy the creation process,
either with exotics or natives, we should not impose the choice on anybody. (We are, after all,
a democratic country, where voting is compulsory at all government levels! :))

Let's just enjoy the journey, and try to create the best bonsai that we possibly can. And as PeterW
says, when we have bonsai that are created by Australian artists in the world stage; then Australian
bonsai will come of age. I think that is the destination we should aim for rather than worry about
styling.

I like the statement by Kunzea best:

Kunzea wrote:It could help if we see a language develop that allows broad and easy communication of what
trees look like without having to write an essay.
...
One never knows which words will mature into something that eveyone instantly understands.


That is so true. The Japanese did not invent cars. But now the phrase "Japanese car" is instantly
understood and accepted.

There is no reason why "Australian bonsai" would not be a success as "Japanese car" -- linguistically
speaking.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby aaron_tas » January 3rd, 2009, 6:41 pm

awesome post daiviet, very good reading

thanks :D
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considered superior to nature.
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby brenden » February 13th, 2009, 11:14 pm

A great topic and deserving of every bit of its 'stickiness' :)

Style is a big question. While I have not ready every post in this thread I covered a great deal of them so apologies if I repeat any comments.

Obviously a group of artists did not meet in Japan and China all those centuries ago and define a style to stick to forever. It evolved but also had the luxury of isolation. Where TV and the Internet has assimilated many cultures and thinking around the world, such openness of today may also prevent defined styles from developing. Who knows :)

When I think of Australia I think of a rugged landscape. Dry, red dust. Haunting tree skeletons on the horizon. Scares of a previous fire that ripped away existing life while setting the stage for new growth.

Desert grass and flowers. Extreme contrasts of colours. Sandstone, red, red, red!


487984521_c2dba3558f.jpg


dillon.jpg


This is very Australian to me so perhaps landscapes reflecting such elements would be the best way to express "Australia" in our art.

I also read a few comments about a potential contest and it was well agreed that the 'instant' bonsai is a poor direction. I LOVED the idea of a progressive content where participants can post their progress education readers at the same time.

Perhaps a 6 to 12 month competition to build your own miniature Aussie landscape would be a great way to express Australian bonsai. Just an idea so yell kindly :)

Oh, and I am fully aware I am ignoring the fact we have a very lush, wet and vigorous tropical landscape in other parts of our great nation so this is also another option :)
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Re: Australian Style. . . what is it

Postby Hector Johnson » February 14th, 2009, 12:40 am

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