“make the arrangement look like it’s been created by magic.”– Julia Rush
Sogetsu Ikebana – Teacher’s Diploma 3rd Grade
Interview with Julia Rush, a 29 year old Sydney advertising operations manager, has been studying Sogetsu Ikebana since 2014 with Sandra Marker. Since moving to Tokyo in 2019, she attends classes at Sogetsu HQ, and Yokohama.
How were you introduced to Ikebana?
I was reading a book called ‘The Flowers of Japan and the Art of Floral Arrangement’ by Josiah Conder, a British architect and fell in love with the illustrations and the stories in the book. I decided to try a class and found my teacher Sandy Marker, from the first class I fell in love with the art and haven’t stopped since. Especially when I learnt that by becoming a teacher I would get a ‘flower name’..
For anyone who is looking for classes in Sydney, I cannot recommend Sandy enough. I still join the class virtually from Tokyo on Saturdays.
Why do you love Ikebana?
For me there are 3 things that stand out. Firstly, it’s been a way for me to relax and focus completely on the present, in a way a type of meditation. Secondly, I think it’s so interesting how you can express a feeling or an idea through ikebana, it’s so creative and when you put the same material in front of 10 different people, everyone will come up with a different arrangement. And finally, I love the transient nature of it, you can create, and then it won’t last forever, you are forever creating new pieces of living art. It’s not like ceramics or painting where you then have to keep the artwork somewhere or gift it to someone, it’s just gone back into the green recycling.
What is the best advice you have received through your ikebana studies?
Always stand by your work. Sandy has always taught me that it doesn’t matter if someone else likes your work or not, it’s more important that you can explain why you’ve done what you’ve done, and that it’s been designed intentionally. It’s about you being like, it’s the way it is because of x, y and z and sticking up for your work. In addition, it’s always better to be interesting than being pretty. Even if your work is so weird and ugly to some people, if it stands out and makes them go, wow that’s interesting, then you’ve got people thinking. And that’s really the fun of it all.
Are there any artists who you look up to or inspire you most?
Azuma Makoto – not an Ikebana artist, but a Japanese floral artist. His work is so creative, and interesting. I think he is so talented and I completely fan-girl over him.
Where do you source your materials & containers?
The thing they don’t tell you when you start ikebana is that you are about to develop a very expensive vase buying habit. But the good thing is, everyone around you also starts knowing your love for vases and you begin receiving vases as gifts. Now that I’ve recently moved to Tokyo, I’ve been going to some of the Ikebana shops to buy vases, and also second-hand stores. It’s been tricky with Covid-19, as non-essential shopping isn’t quite possible. I have my eye on a few vases at the Sogetsu School too.
For flowers, there is a cute flower van that pops up near the river of my house that I like to go to when I see it. I also have been going to a few of the local florists as well, and even some of the supermarkets have a good little selection if you need some last minute flowers. As soon as Covid-19 finishes though, I’ll be back visiting my favourite florist Farver in Nakameguro and venturing out to the flower markets. Flower markets are my favourite places in the world, and Tokyo’s got a great one.
How would you describe your style of Ikebana?
Fun, simple, bright.
Do you have a favourite material or season?
Not really. My favourite material is normally whatever is in season and looking extra delicious at the flower shop at the time I am there. In Japan, you fall in love with a new flower every day. It’s just been the rainy season and there were hydrangeas everywhere you can’t help but fall in love with them during that time.
What is the advice you would give to someone who is studying or teaching Ikebana?
Practice makes perfect. Keep trying different materials, there is so much to learn about the quality of each of the branches and flowers that you work with.
Do you have any good Ikebana secrets / tips to share?
It’s not so much a secret, but one of the ways to make your Ikebana arrangement stand out is to use your techniques and skills to literally make the arrangement look like it’s been created by magic. You don’t want flowers thrown in a vase, you want, wow how is that standing like that?
What is ahead in your ikebana future?
At the moment I am working, studying my MBA, and trying to learn Japanese. So I will think about teaching again once I’ve got a little more time on my side. Recently, I am happy studying, learning and practicing Ikebana as much as I can for now and the near future. I hope to get to make many ikebana friends in Japan this year. I’ve just started this blog to connect with ikebana people and learn even more. And I’ve started selling my second hand vases too so I can buy more vases and practise at home and at the studio I’ve been renting where there is a little more space to be creative.