Sunday, 9 August 2009

What I like, what I really....

... really like at all these bonsai shows I go to - if I'm being very honest - is not so much the trees, as the wonderfully quirky personalities I have met in the the past 15 years.

Lots of the people I like and talk about on Twitter and on this blog would not consider themselves as 'big names' in the British or international bonsai scene. But many of them have been growing and displaying trees longer than I have; many of them have a lot of specialist knowledge in both horticultural and unrelated areas; and many of them are able to convey that knowledge with passion and humour. And many of them are great for just standing around and chewing the fat with.

Unfortunately I haven't sought out their permission to tell you of what each of them have told me in the past weekend - for example - so no names named, OK? Let's see... the juicy bits started during the lull after lunch. Things went quiet so a bunch of us just gathered around to chat. I think we started with someone receiving a proposal of marriage from two (yes, plural!) inebriated young ladies; then on to cross-dressing, which led to gay bars in the area. For some reason that went on to the feasibility of doing a bonsai demonstration with scantily clad assistants (don't ask), then on to nude sculpture, which led back to the gay bars (we have one-track minds). Which of course went on to the television programming that the BBC lays on us - whether for good or ill - and to the TV license fee that we have to pay over here.

Not bad - from the ridiculous to the sublime, isn't it? Or not, I guess, depending on how you feel toward paying your TV license.

And no, it's not all scandalous gossip, unfortunately :D

The rest of the day was spent discussing how to correctly ascertain if one of my needle junipers is a rigida or a communis (verdict - check the big Hilliers Encyclopedia), interviewing the holder of a 6th dan in Iaidō (oh my, oh my, oh my; not many of them walking around) and receiving a wonderfully insightful description of historical vs modern-day usage of netsuke, inro and ojime. Not to forget coffee and cake, and of course, lunch. Far be it from me to attend a bonsai show and starve. *shudders*

Not bad for a day's (non)work, right?

Sussex Bonsai show at Hove

Okay. At this point of the year I am definitely starting to feel blasé and all-showed-out. We've been going since the Noelanders show in January and the end of the bonsai show season couldn't come too soon for me now.

But here I am once again, having done the 1.25 hour trip to Hove, saikei in hand for the International Saikei Association's display at Sussex Bonsai Society's show.

Several bonsai/horticultural clubs from the South turned up for this show: Chichester, Sutton, Solent, Swindon, Crawley and Celtic Knot (Wales). Apologies if I've missed any other clubs - I'll admit to being a mite distracted by Antique Netsuke's wares that day.

Unfortunately I've not got as many pics from this show as I'd normally have, since the lighting within the hall was severely testing the limits of my Sony Ericsson phone. We've been through this before, right? If you don't know what I'm talking about, feel free to go over the Archives. Attribution of blame not being the object of this post, here is what I've got and that's it, dudes.

So here are several views of the display hall, taken from the balcony above. To the left of the island displays are a couple of trade stands, with more of the same - and some club stands - towards the rear of the hall.

All the island displays belong to the Sussex Bonsai Society. Again, more trade and club stands are visible in this photo below, towards the rear of the hall (to the right of this display). Lighting was too dim for me to be able to take pics of those stands.

Here's a view of the rear of the hall, with the trade stands as a quadrangle in the centre, and the societies ranged against the walls. Unfortunately all the natural daylight was up in the tiered seating in the balcony.

And this is the view of the other side of the balcony, where the demonstrations were being held. Just beneath are another set of club stands, with another island display from Sussex Bonsai.

I did manage to take some individual pics of the bonsai and suiseki. The photos below don't necessarily mean they were what I would have considered to be the best in the show. In fact, none of the photos I post in this blog necessarily mean that, unless I specifically indicate a preference. But, if they are here, it is because I believe there is something worthy of interest. Whether positive or negative, I leave that up to you.

Above is a damson in fruit - the only one I've ever seen as a bonsai. Below is the detail of the fruit, which are the size of small plums. This was in the display of Sutton Bonsai Society. The owner wasn't at the show when I took this pic, so I don't have much more info than this. Tree stands around 2 ft / 61 cm from base of pot.

Below, in one of Sussex Bonsai's island displays, is a cotoneaster planted in a large driftwood. Getting a pic was very much trial-and-error as this was on the floor. The only way I could have focused the phone properly would have been by prostrating myself fully on the ground, and not even for this blog am I doing that!

A shohin cotoneaster from Sussex Bonsai Society. Noteworthy to me is that, with a black background and a black base, you could almost make a bonsai appear to float within a void.

I think the Welsh lads should be given a medal for driving all the way down to shows over here. Celtic Knot's was probably the society stand most fortunate in terms of lighting. Here are the suiseki they had on display.

And the one that brought me the most amusement, a sort of stony gangsta-rapper look with shades: