'Ikebana Indaba' - March 2008

'The members of the Johannesburg Chapter of Ikebana International take pleasure in inviting you to attend and share the 40th Anniversary Celebration with us in March 2008. This will be an Ikebana event which will be remembered for years to come, and we know you will be interested in attending.' Read detailed programme and registration form in MS Word or .pdf format.



The Art of Japanese Flower arranging, known as Ikebana has as its motto 'Friendship Through Flowers'. The practise of Ikebana has spread throughout the world and crosses cultural boundaries. No other form of floral arrangement is more suited to modern homes, minimalists, flower scarcity, or the budget conscious, than the elegant and simplistic arrangements. Ikebana may not be new after over 600 years in practice, but it is definitely 'Now'.

It can take years to master or indeed, to gain the title of Master, but this does not diminish the pleasure gained by novices when creating an arrangement. South Africa has at least 12 practising Masters in various Schools of Ikebana most of whom have furthered their initial qualifications in Japan. All Schools may affiliate to the umbrella body of Ikebana International. In South Africa the Sogetsu, Ohara, Ikenobo and Ichiyo Schools of Ikebana are active.

Visiting Japanese Masters are held in high regard. Requests are made as often as possible, for a full time Professor from one of the Schools to demonstrate and hold workshops in South Africa. Whilst classical styles are still practiced, Ikebana is moving forward into the 21st Century with new exciting modern styles, utilizing the myriad of plant material now available worldwide.

What distinguishes Ikebana from Western decorative styles? Western societies are accustomed to the mass grouping of floral materials for decorative purposes, and at exhibitions, the arrangements are judged. Ikebana on the other hand is linear and contemplative. Ikebana is asymmetrical in form and the use of empty space is an essential feature of the composition. A sense of harmony among the materials and the setting is also crucial. Because it is considered an Art Form, Ikebana arrangements are never judged. Like other pure Art Forms, the intrinsic beauty of the creation is there to be appreciated.

The various forms of Ikebana share certain common features regardless of the period or School. It is most economical in its use of material. Any plant material - branches, leaves, grasses, moss and fruit, as well as flowers - may be used. Withered leaves, seedpods and buds are valued as highly as flowers in full bloom. While a work may be composed of only one, or of many different kinds of materials, the selection of each element demand an experienced eye and the arrangement requires considerable skill in order to create a kind of beauty that cannot be found in nature.

Nevertheless, Ikebana captures the essence of natural scenic beauty. Put another way - the intrinsic beauty of the plant material used is enhanced when placed in a new environment.

Derry Ralph