Thank you Chris for bringing this thread back to the fore, it caused me to re-read the posts and reconsider the original Question, Australian Style…. What is it?
I believe that this statement by FlyBri is one which we should all consider as we attempt to answer this question
The desire to affirm our individuality as a nation is based upon the belief that there is a single point of 'Australianness' which unites us all. Likewise the search for an Australian Style of Bonsai. Who and what would fit under such a broad heading?
There have been a lot of excellent replies and it is obvious that this question has been considered by many of us looking for some form of understanding or direction. It is perhaps pertinent that we consider our age (length of service) in this hobby of ours and I can’t help agreeing with the following comments…….
We certainly have the trees, but we don’t have the quality trees (natives) that are capable of making that statement yet or not that I have seen anyway. I don’t 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 don’t see it, not in as far as Natives are concerned anyway.
I don't know that it will take generations to produce world class bonsai from Australian natives. What it will take is someone with patience and dedication and a thorough understanding of the habits of native species. After all, the Japanese and Chinese have a pretty big head start on the rest of us, when it comes to techniques and experience on pines and maples.
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.
…..and then I read Kunzeas statement;
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'.
…..and realize that it is equally obvious that the term ‘Style’ is not as easily definable as many would like and I feel that…..
Aarons quote from Walter Pall,
"style" was something your artwork has, your tree has, for the person viewing to FEEL.
…..Was the beginning of an understanding for me. It was further qualified by….
Rather than aspire to an as-yet undefined (undefinable?) Australian Style, I'd aspire to the creation of the Australian Image within my Bonsai practice. The difference is subtle, but I believe it has profound implications.
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'.
I personally feel landscape would be an ideal way of capturing the essence (not style) of Australia.
….. it was only then that I realised that my off the cuff comment…
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.
…. Perhaps made more sense than I meant at the time and Viet strengthens this argument with the following statement;
I like the statement by Kunzea best:
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.
I think that when it all boils down the first step required to create this elusive Australian Style will be for a lot more knowledge of the growing habits and horticultural methods required to successfully grow our Aussie Natives and to this end we must thank the pioneers who have begun this journey and are documenting their successes and failures.
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.
To put it in some form of perspective, I find myself agreeing with Peter W when he said
Both of those I felt had that something about them that felt Aussie.
So Brenden, you might not be too far of the mark with your suggestion....
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
What do the members think?
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