Monday, 25 January 2010

A Belgian Bonsai Weekend: Show....

There are a couple of things that stick in my mind about the Noelanders Trophy XI this weekend; one of them would be the Saturday crush.  The doors opened at 10:00 and we decided to arrive late to avoid any queueing.  We got there at 11:00; all the convenient parking spots were gone, plus there were still over 100 people waiting outside to get in.  Marc Noelanders told us apparently some people had been there since 09:00.  I'm totally pleased for him, as they put in so much hard graft into this show.  (More on that later.)

I mentioned on Twitter that the Noelanders show seems to have become the unofficial landmark opening of the European bonsai show circuit.  I recognised Eastern European, UK, French, Italian, German, Spanish & of course BeNeLux visitors (you do see many of the same faces year on year) as well as the occasional Americans; I'm sure there were other nationalities there, I just don't know them all so apologies if I missed you.  Lots of cards and show flyers were exchanging hands.  What seems to happen is that people make a point of catching this show to invite enthusiasts from other countries to attend or display at their local shows later in the year.  TOH got no less than 3 invites to display our trees on the Continent this year: fitting them all in will be something of a logistical - and financial - challenge.  But I'd love to do it.

That said, I know you're gagging to see the trees.  So here goes.  But my usual caveat applies - these are my photos of displays that I found interesting, for all sorts of reasons; but this is not an indication of my personal preference for or an indication of merit (or not) in the trees, unless specifically mentioned.  Most of the time I do try to refrain from any sort of technical or artistic critique; I'm sure the owners are already more than aware of the strengths and limitations of their bonsai.



This is a very large Pomegranate: Punica granatum 'Neji-kan' in a Chinese pot, by Graham Potter.  Notable of course were the fruit on the tree.



And another large tree, Lino Pepe's Olive: Olea europaea in an Isabelia pot.



I first saw this shohin Jasmine in a calendar about two years back. This was the accompanying accent for Udo Fischer's display of a large literati Pinus nigra.



A shohin Itoigawa Juniper (about 8 in / 20 cm high from base of pot) by Mario Komsta, in an antique Chinese pot.  This tree received a Special Mention.  Note the evenness of the foliage.



I think I may have seen this tree at the Swindon Winter Image show last year: a very large Carpinus koreana raft in a Gordon Duffet pot, belonging to Ian Stewardson.  A very striking display, this also received a Special Mention.



A Larix decidua - both pot and tree by John Pitt.  This is a smaller tree, probably would be in the chuuhin size category.



There weren't as many purely shohin and mame displays this year, from what I can recall.  Most of the smaller trees that were there were often in accompaniment to bigger trees.  In what I believe was the only mame display: a Lonicera nitida by Ruud Simons.



One of the larger accent plantings: a Sempervivum and moss creation, which accompanied a Pomegranate belonging to Joerg Derlien.



This is a very large Scots Pine raft in a Derek Aspinall pot, by Richard Chambers.  Richard will probably remain in my memory for helping us out at the EBA convention last year with a whole load of wire, but that is not why this photo is in here.  He also had another Scots Pine in the show (a large literati I think) but maybe I just have a preference for groups of trees...



This Silver Birch (Betula pendula) in a Tokoname pot by Hermann Haas had quite an interesting deadwood feature at the back of the trunk.



A Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata) with prominent deadwood by Josef Valuch; pot by Isabelia.  It seemed like there were more entries from the Eastern European countries this year, which I personally appreciate as we have so few opportunities to see what's going on over there.  I remember the EBA convention in Poland in 2006 and it looks like things have moved forward in leaps and bounds since then.


And of course, I will always mention the Suiseki that Gudrun and Willi Benz go through so much trouble to bring out for our enjoyment.  I could have photographed them all as the standard is always excellent, but taking down the details of all the photos is one heck of a drag.


This one is a Colour Stone from Anhui, China.



And this unusual (for me, anyways) piece of geology is a Chalcedony pattern stone from the White Water River, a tributary of the Yangtze River in China.

And everyone wants to know the winners.  There were several trees that received Special Mention certificates, but I didn't have the time to go hunting them all down.  Just because the attendance was lower on the Sunday didn't mean that it wasn't busy in the exhibition hall.  So what I did manage to take were:



Mario Komsta's Itoigawa Juniper in an antique Chinese pot.  This took the prize in the Kifu category, which I understand to be a newly created size category, one up from the chuuhin size.  (Let's not get into a discussion on category dimensions, I don't agree with precise measurements of trees when entering them in a size category.  I will mention measurements from time to time on this blog, but that's just to give an idea of scale.)  I overheard a 'big' bonsai artist commenting on this tree - and the detail wouldn't show on this photo - saying that the foliage was both very even and very green, a remarkable achievement given that Mario is currently living in a very hot and dry part of Spain.



The winner of the Noelanders trophy: another Itoigawa Juniper, this time by E. Savini and F. Mantovani.  My understanding is that this tree was a favourite among several showgoers.  I didn't manage to take a photo of this tree when it was on the main show bench, so it was practically impossible to get up close for a detail shot.  The tree is actually larger than it seems to be in this photo.

One thing I've always liked about this show is that there are no restrictions on the public taking photos.  Not that Joe Public walks around with professional quality kit anyway, plus the light is really not ideal for taking detail shots.  And you can't get far back enough without bumping into another person taking photos.  If you are interested in purchasing the show book, go to their website here.

(No, I do not take commissions for plugging things on this blog.  Sod off.)

Four years ago, my mate Bob insisted that we come to the Noelanders show; his selling points were the lack of politics, the friendly atmosphere and the quality of the trees.  The former is probably something you can never get rid of in a human congregation, but it has never affected me at my level; the latter two are very definitely true and I look forward to going back each year.  I've already decided on which hotel to book....

1 comment:

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