If you are an observer of nature then you will have noticed how the elements of structure of the trees and plants support each other to display beautiful lines. Some say that nature has its own intelligence that appears to us in the form of art. In Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangement, the natural lines of plants, flowers and leaves are always carefully observed before used to form an arrangement.
Today I want to talk about an important aspect of Japanese aesthetic in Ikebana arrangements. It is about harmony order and disorder where each element, while retaining its own individuality, supports others in the composition. This is particularly manifest in a discipline known as Shoka. Shoka is one of Ikenobo school’s style developed in the late Edo period in Japan. The skill of Shoka is to use only up to three different materials. The discipline is to create a form in a single vase that where the arrangement appears as a living plant rooted in the soil and growing towards the sunlight.
In order to create any Ikebana compositions, one learns to observe the shapes, colours, textures, complexity and how they manifest ageing etc. This process can develop mindfulness and a sense of calm. In our apparently imperfect world Ikebana has a role not only in observing but putting forward a sense of order in disorder. For my first Shoka composition shown below I have used roses from our local supermarket in Ealing, West London and for the foliage are from a friend’s garden in West London. This year Aspidistra in my garden have grown tall and graceful, so, I was inspired to create the second arrangement. In our school of Ikebana Aspidistra is used to master the skill of Shoka discipline.