I love all four seasons, they are the reason I look forward to the next month on the calendar.Benedict Tsang
Interview with Benedict (from Gontadou), an ikebana student living in Hong Kong.
How were you introduced to Ikebana?
It was a complete coincidence. I lived in Kyoto at the time and was itching to try something new. I found a Sogetsu ikebana studio near my home and ended up going there a few times a week. The workshop was held in a Taisho-style dancing hall in a historical building which used to be first an ageya and then a ryokan. The atmosphere was surreal and I was hooked!
Why do you love Ikebana?
Like many other artistic pursuits, ikebana should be a journey on which we can be differently motivated at different stages. I first fell in love with ikebana due to curiosity, but the more I practice it now the more I find it a perfect resting place for my heart. It fosters our awareness of where things belong in time and space.
What is the best advice you have received through your ikebana studies?
‘Don’t just look at other people’s works. Go out and be inspired by other artforms: art, architecture, photography, dance, etc.’ Particularly true for the Sogetsu style I suppose.
Are there any artists who you look up to or inspire you most?
I take in all kinds of inspirations, especially from my sensei and different artists whom I follow on Instagram. But I remember chancing upon an album of Toshiro Kawase’s works not long after I began my journey – it certainly left a compelling impression.
Where do you source your materials & containers?
I have a penchant for tiny ordinary containers, be it glass, ceramics or metal but especially vintage. Over the years I have built a small collection: they were either purchased when I was travelling abroad, or gifts from friends around the globe. As for flowers, I simply go to my sensei or the flower market. I really like wildflowers too, but then if you live in a city you can’t always find them – they are often municipally planted.
How would you describe your style of Ikebana?
Too early to tell perhaps. I’m still learning the techniques and subject to all kinds of inspirations. But right now, I do like mini arrangements – those that can sit quietly but charmingly at a corner, and I found myself doing that at home more often. I want my works to be closely relatable to my home living, and nothing adds the warm final touch in furnishing a home like a bespoke arrangement.
Do you have a favourite material or season?
Chrysanthemums! They come in all kinds and are a beginner’s best friends. I love all four seasons, they are the reason I look forward to the next month on the calendar.
What is the advice you would give to someone who is studying or teaching Ikebana?
Don’t give up and be very patient.
Do you have any good Ikebana secrets / tips to share?
As outlandish as this might sound: don’t practice on an empty stomach…
What is ahead in your ikebana future?
My nearest goal is to attain the Teacher’s Diploma Fourth Grade! And because I love tiny vintage containers so much, I am hoping to be able to collaborate with some of those specialist shops in the future.