During our long confinement period in Spain I considered myself very lucky to be studying Sogetsu ikebana. The use of unconventional as well as fresh materials mean that, although florists were closed and we couldn’t leave the house, I was never short of materials to create arrangements.Louise Worner
Interview with Louise Worner, Jonin Sanyo Sogetsu Ikebana teacher at Studio Yorin Ikebana, living in Madrid, Spain. Classes held weekly in her ikebana specific atelier in Madrid.
How were you introduced to Ikebana?
I started studying ikebana by accident. While working in Japan, a colleague asked if I would accompany her to ikebana classes at the Tokyo Union Church. I was extremely lucky to have stumbled into Sogetsu Ikebana classes taught by Sogetsu Headquarters Master Ikebana Instructor Yoka Hosono. After completing Book 1 of the Sogetsu curriculum, Hosono-sensei invited me to take lessons in her ikebana atelier in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo.
Why do you love Ikebana?
Ikebana has deepened my connection with nature.
Studying Ikebana has provided me with a way in which to view nature differently. I not only have a deeper appreciation of the different seasons, but also the subtle differences within each season. Each season is filled with inspiration and beauty, from the beautiful blossom filled branches of spring through to the structural forms of bare branches in winter.
What is the best advice you have received through your ikebana studies?
My first teacher Hosono-sensei always stressed the importance of negative space and creating harmony through imbalance. My current teacher Ilse Beunen always stresses the importance of proper fixation techniques.
Are there any artists who you look up to or inspire you most?
I am mainly inspired by contemporary artists, in particular by Chiharu Shiota’s intricate installations. I have had the privilege of seeing her work in Madrid and Tokyo. In terms of form and space, I admire the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly, and sculptor Ruth Asawa, as well as the use of colour by the Australian painter Kudditji Kngwarreye. Living in Spain for the past 9 years, I have developed a deep appreciation of the work of many contemporary Spanish artists. I am particularly drawn to the work of Joan Miro, Antonio Gaudi, and Eduardo Chillida. I particularly love Chillida’s series of sculptures Peine Del Viento (The Comb of the Wind) that sit precariously on a rocky outcrop, battered by the waves, overlooking the Basque town of San Sebastián (Donostia).
Where do you source your materials & containers?
I have always loved rummaging through flea markets and second-hand stores. Some of my favourite ikebana vases and kenzans have been bought from second-hand stores in different countries. Here in Spain it is difficult to find ikebana supplies, so for the past two years I have been studying ceramics and designing and making my own ikebana vases.
How would you describe your style of Ikebana?
Probably the best way to describe my work is architectural and contemporary. My most recent installations and exhibition arrangements have been heavily influenced by the work of Chiharu Shiota and Ruth Asawa.
Do you have a favourite material or season?
I enjoy the challenge and creativity of using unconventional material. During our long confinement period in Spain I considered myself very lucky to be studying Sogetsu ikebana. The use of unconventional as well as fresh materials mean that, although florists were closed and we couldn’t leave the house, I was never short of materials to create arrangements.
What is the advice you would give to someone who is studying or teaching Ikebana?
Each ikebana journey is different, some paths are straight and narrow, and others are long and winding. Ikebana journeys aren’t a competition, race or a marathon. I often compare ikebana journeys to the Camino de Santiago, there are many different routes and it is journey that shouldn’t be hurried. Don’t try to rush your ikebana journey, rather reflect upon and appreciate each slow step.
Do you have any good Ikebana secrets / tips to share?
I use a tawashi (traditional Japanese scrubbing brush) to clean my vases. The palm fibre bristles don’t damage delicate vases, but they are strong enough to clean stubborn stains from vases.
Recently I have also discovered that Wattle (Mimosa) flowers last longer if 4-5 cm of bark is peeled from the bottom of the stem before placing in water.
What is ahead in your ikebana future?
I have been invited by the Mumbai Sogetsu Ikebana Branch to present a live virtual ikebana demonstration, on the 8th of October.
In 2020/21 I will present ikebana workshops for the Azalea Study Group, Belgium and the Sogetsu Branch Française (Paris). I plan to continue writing articles on teaching ikebana to children for Ilse Beunen’s Weekly Newsletter, as well as write regular posts for my blog to inspire other ikebana teacher’s with ideas for teaching ikebana to children.
As well as continuing to teach the ikebana component of the Madrid Flower School’s Professional Floristry programme, I will also continue my ongoing trans-Atlantic collaborations with ceramicist Sam Deering of Spotted Horse Pottery and designer Akiko Tsuji.
Jonin Sanyo – Studio Yorin Ikebana
Classes held weekly in Louise’s Ikebana specific atelier in Madrid.