Monday, 22 March 2010

Trees, People, Bath and Rocks: My Day at the Joy of Bonsai

Rather than tell a story from the beginning, let me commence sort of a third through the way and wind my way back up to the start.  

The GPS (AKA 'That Biyotch' to a friend of mine) took us to Bath via the A303 which led us through some lovely scenery, particularly when we got closer to Bath.  Quaint cottages, woodland scenes - all very picture book English countryside, which made the opening vista of the city with its straight lines of limestone architecture seem extremely regimented to me.   All the creamy yellow/gold Bath stone architecture under the morning sun as you drive down the hill is impressive - but I guess it is a 'you love it or you hate it' sort of thing.

In my last post I said that catching up with people was probably going to be the priority of the day (second to getting my morning coffee, of course) but actually - despite feedback I had heard on the Saturday saying the lighting wasn't very good - I did manage to get some pics of the trees and accent plants.  I could've taken more pics, but to be perfectly honest I was more caught up with gassing with the owners of the trees.  Especially as some of their stuff are bonsai that I probably already have pics of in previous posts on this blog.

I first saw this Willow by Simon Temblett at the Swindon Winter Image show two years ago, and he says it's now starting to look more like how he wants it to be.  Pot is also by Simon.

Also by Simon is this composition entitled 'Blackthorn Juggling on a Unicycle', which is almost self-explanatory.  You also get a fairly good view of the branch wiring in the photo.

Framed in black and floating in space is John Pitt's 'Beyond the Moonshine'; no prizes for guessing who the potter is:
However you can get a better view of the entire composition here, courtesy of @ExtremeWork.

This one, called 'The Lightning through the Clouds', was one that people couldn't resist touching, particularly when they were told the tree wasn't real.
Paul Finch (UK New Talent Contest winner and UK candidate for the 2008 EBA NTC at Vienna) modelled this on one of Kevin Willson's trees.  The woody bits are out of modelling clay and the foliage is from bits of fake Christmas trees.  An excellent piece of work, IMHO.  And in case it isn't legible, the notice to the left says 'please do not touch the exhibits'.

We oohed and aahed over this little accent Contorted Hazel by Russ Farley. 
I didn't manage to get the potter's name, but if you do want to know, then you have to ask this guy here.  His wife tried her best to edge out of the picture but one day there will be no escaping my Sony Ericsson...
We have been bumping into Russ and Julie at bonsai shows here and on the Continent for over 10 years now, and I've seen their son grow up, in almost a stop action punctuated sort of way, over a series of bonsai shows.  Kinda makes you feel old, after a while.

Obviously these two take bonsai extremely seriously and the one on the left is Bob Bailey whose shohin and mame have appeared several times on this blog.
This display of bodily assault could have been a forerunner of the Karate demonstration that afternoon.  And that is really all the innuendo I am able to spread on Mr Bailey, even though I have threatened to do so several times over the past years.  That said, he has taken quite a lot of stick over the colour of his shirts....

More dirt was being dished about by the Welsh lads; here we have Chris Thomas showing off his moss....
.... and proving he can multitask by entertaining us with a lot of smutty hilarious jokes while finishing up a group planting....
.... which eventually wound up like this:

Another demo here, possibly of interest to those who want to give the root-over-rock style a go: Simon Temblett taking a tube-grown maple (to achieve the long roots) which was destined to go over the red 'pebbles' on the lower right hand side.  In the background you can see the other demonstrators at work.
I missed the rest of the demo as I went to have lunch (my next highest priority to my morning coffee).  By the time I had demolished a steak and complained about its size (on the small side) to an unsympathetic Mr Bailey, this particular demo was done and Simon had gone on to doing a Tanuki, achieving the bark colour with a solution of soot and water.  The finished root over rock maple is on the lower left hand side of the photo, wrapped in sphagnum moss to protect the roots.  Over time this will be removed once the roots have settled.

Another of the demonstrators, Serge Clemence, here doing an illustration of what will eventually be the finished image of the tree he had worked on.
We first met Serge at the EBA convention in Poland where he had displayed a large yamadori pine that took the best in show prize that year.  That said, Serge was still immersed in plans for refining the tree into the image that he had in plan for it.  We saw the tree again at another show a couple of years later and it had acquired a more mature and finished look, aside from being a healthy specimen indeed.

Moving away from the demo area, I managed to grab these pics of the Pitt-boss John (and why is it all my photos of him are blurred?  Is my phone trying to tell me something?)...
and his wife Linda...
... who is my partner in hilarity at her husband's expense.  Only sometimes.  (Like at every show we meet.)  But he's a great sport.  And he gets his own back :D

And in reverse order (as this was the first photo of the day I took), let me leave you with a minute impression of one of the biggest piles of Suiseki I have ever seen in my life:
Them grey rocks in the middle of the field.  Click on the pic to blow it up.  That's right:  Stonehenge as seen from the A303.

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