Discover the ancient art of Japanese flower arranging

PUBLISHED: 19:15 23 May 2016

Despite looking very contemporary, the art of ikebana has been practiced for centuries

Despite looking very contemporary, the art of ikebana has been practiced for centuries


Try ikebana at the London branch of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana’s seventh annual exhibition in Hampstead next weekend

Ikebana is the ancient Japanese art of flower arrangingIkebana is the ancient Japanese art of flower arranging

Do fusty floral arrangements leave you cold? Bored by blowsy bouquets? Why not try your hand at the ancient art of Japanese flower arrangement.

The official London branch of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana is holding their seventh annual Hampstead exhibition of the art form on Saturday June 4.

Visitors can admire the creations on display and take part in the ‘Let’s Try Ikebana’ lessons to experience the craft firsthand.

“It’s about space rather than colour,” explains local artist and ikebana practitioner Susan Jamieson.

“In traditional Western flower arranging it’s about arranging clumps of flowers together to create a look that is as full as possible. Ikebana is about negative space and allowing the eye to fill in the bits that aren’t there.”

Because the arrangements focus on space and form rather than colour, ikebana arrangements look terribly contemporary.

Yet despite looking so very modern, the art form is in fact centuries old. The Sogetsu School was founded in 1927 Tokyo, Japan.

Pupils of this school of ikebana are tutored in the three central tenants that govern the art form. Arranged around the points of a scalene triangle, they represent the heaven, earth and man.

Students of ikebana must learn these basic rules and angles first, before graduating to freestyle arrangements based on these principles.

Best displayed against a plain, unadorned backdrop, these arrangements work best as either as a single stand alone centrepiece or grouped in clusters of smaller displays.

Any plant material can be used to create the arrangements, and ikebana only requires an open and creative mindset.

Central to the practice is the belief that ikebana can be created at any time and from anything.

Much like the ubiquitous colouring books and mindfulness apps so popular today, the practice encourages peaceful reflection and promotes calm in a busy world.

“You have to be in the right frame of mind,” explains Susan. “As an artist, I treat it as another form of art.”

With gardens and flower markets bursting with floral delights at this time of year, the classes will take advantage of this natural bounty and teach attendants how to fashion them in to works of art.

“Anyone can do it,” says Susan.

There’s no minimum age limit and admission to the exhibition is free, although there is a small charge for the lessons to cover the cost of materials.

7th Ikebana Exhibition

Saturday June 4 2016

11am to 4.30pm

Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel

3 Pilgrims Place




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