Back in the 1970's DIY has its first major moment. All of a sudden, everyone was getting in on the act: from growing your own kitchen herbs to patchworking quilts and knotting macramé wall hangings, DIY was hip and trendy. I recall my dad brewing his own beer in our basement – with mixed results – and my mom baking bread from scratch – delicious! What I remember more than anything however, was a tiny little volume that appeared on our book shelf one day – a primer on Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arranging. I must have flipped through that little booklet a thousand times, mesmerized by the striking arrangements, stylish containers and exotic-sounding styles: rikka, seika, orshoka, nageire, moribana.
Last fall, I was delighted to hear of the publication of Poetical Ikebana - by a Belgian publisher no less – exploring the poetic stylings of the haiku and its similarities to the art of ikebana, its subtleties and sparse use of words, its silences and depth of meaning, its rhythms and seasons... Both art forms evoke emotions using material that has carefully been trimmed of the superfluous.
Ikebana is back in the spotlight, and with spring upon us, this could not be more timely. This is anything but a trend though. In Japanese culture, Ikebana represents a search for ideal beauty. To arrange means revealing the beauty of the flowers alongside the beauty of your own soul.
Simplicity is at the core of this artful discipline. There is no need to seek out the biggest and the brightest flowers. You can arrange the most beautiful composition with the humblest of materials: branches and blades of grass.
Much more than a stylish undertaking, Ikebana is really a philosophy combined with art: the discipline of arranging cut flowers, branches, leaves and grass to form a three-dimensional work of art that reflects the arranger’s spiritual understanding of the world.
I highly recommend exploring this ancient discipline. Through the centuries, the art form of ikebana had evolved into something that anyone could practice and, with continued study, can produce beautiful pieces of art with living materials. For resources and info, contact Ikebana International, a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to the promotion and appreciation of Ikebana.